A stray dog has gone from roaming the streets to soaring high above the clouds in a history-making television experiment to teach dogs to fly.

New Zealand's leading animal behaviour expert, Mark Vette, today revealed at least one of the dozen rescue dogs plucked from council pounds throughout the United Kingdom took control of a plane and executed an acrobatic manoeuvre.

"They do fly a plane," said an ecstatic Mr Vette.



This is your captain speaking - woof

"It's been the culmination of three years of work so it's pretty rewarding I must say."

The achievement, which comes off the back of another world-first, teaching dogs to drive, will screen this Sunday on UK Sky television series Dogs Might Fly.

Reggie has won Mark Vette's heart and will be coming to live with him in New Zealand. Photo / Supplied
Reggie has won Mark Vette's heart and will be coming to live with him in New Zealand. Photo / Supplied

The hit show has followed the transformation of 12 unwanted dogs as they undergo 10 weeks of intensive training and problem-solving tests ahead of the nail-biting flying challenge.

"All I can reveal at this stage is one of the dogs has flown but when episode six comes out on Sunday night then it will be revealed whether the other two dogs fly," said Mr Vette.

"It's pretty exciting stuff. It's gone crazy over here."

He said the quintessential rescue dog - a bull terrier-cross named Shadow - is seen on the show's trailer piloting the aircraft at 3000ft and executing a figure eight stunt.

"On Sunday night the reveal will obviously come about - will they fly, how do they do it and what happens when they attempt a figure eight. That all unfolds in the episode."

He said only the most suitable three dogs were selected as potential canine pilots.

All the dogs had been tested for their comfort in flight-like scenarios and slowly acclimatised to the different sensations. Only those that responded positively to the training had progressed to the final flight challenge.

The video shows Shadow seated in the the pilot's seat, an instructor who takes off and lands beside him and a dog trainer seated in the back seat.

The trainer is shown pressing buttons prompting the dog to level the plane and alter directions.

After each manoeuvre, the dog is praised and fed a treat.

Mr Vette said a local New Zealand network had bought the series but it was unlikely he would repeat the same format here.

In the meantime one of the flying pooches, Reggie, had won his heart and would be returning to live with him in New Zealand now the show had finished.