This is your captain speaking - woof

Animal trainer Mark Vette, hugging his dog, Paddy, is attempting to teach man's best friend to pilot a plane. Photo / Doug Sherring
Animal trainer Mark Vette, hugging his dog, Paddy, is attempting to teach man's best friend to pilot a plane. Photo / Doug Sherring

Dogs are moving from the driver's seat to the cockpit in a new TV show tracking a Kiwi dog trainer's attempts to teach man's best friend to pilot a plane.

Animals on Q owner Mark Vette will lead a final, 10 week-long "flight school" for the three dogs who top an earlier series of problem-solving tasks assigned to 12 shortlisted dogs.

Mr Vette, who is based at Waimauku in northwest Auckland and was behind the project to train three rescue dogs to drive three years ago, could not be contacted this morning.

But the Daily Mail reported his latest project was being filmed in the United Kingdom as part of a Sky TV reality show Dogs Might Fly.

The 12 dogs chosen from the United Kingdom and Spain for the initial tests include a 2-year-old Pyrenean shepherd called Chilli, a collie-lurcher cross called Alfie and boisterous puppy named Tess. Three strays are among those who will have their cognitive skills put to the ultimate test.

Tests will take place at a mansion in Sussex, and will include seeing how the dogs respond to various stimulation tasks. They will also be taken to the top of London landmarks, and on a speedboat on the Thames to see how they react to heights and speed.

More details will be revealed when the show airs on Sky 1 next weekend.

The plane's controls will be specially modified to make it possible for four-legged aviation pioneers to press buttons and steer, the Daily Mail reported.

The show is being filmed by Oxford Scientific Films, and a spokeperson said experts and trainers would examine the dogs' skills in "communication, empathy, memory and reasoning before tasking them with some breathtaking challenges".

"The top three go forward to flight school where under the stewardship of New Zealand driving dogs star, Mark Vette, they train for a world first - could one of them really fly an aeroplane?"

However, not everyone is on board.

University of British Columbia professor of canine psychology, Stanley Coren, expressed his concerns to The Independent.

"Given that we would not expect a human 3-year-old to be able to fly a plane, I would not expect that a dog could do so either."

- NZ Herald

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