Dog-Powered Scooter Gives Rescued Animals New Skills
(Photo courtesy of MSPCA)
Innovative toy keeps shelter pets active and agile.
The MSCPA has rolled out a new toy to keep large breed dogs fit and alert while they wait for forever homes, according to Rob Halpin, MSPCA-Angell spokesman. It’s a scooter, he said.
On training days, the dogs go out in the parking lot where Terri Bright, MSPCA trainer, hitches them up to the rigging bar and teaches them to tug. A staff members rides aboard the scooter and steers.
“It’s a regular scooter,” she said, “outfitted with a heavy-duty kick plate sidebar.” The sidebar looks like an upside-down U.
“You put the dog in a harness and clip the harness onto the sidebar,” she said.
The dogs have to learn to duck their heads under the bar and walk inside the space, and that’s the hardest part of the training, she said.
For a first lesson, Bright will have the dog duck its head under the bar “20 or 30 times,” she said.
The scooter, which retails for about $550, arrived at the Boston shelter about three weeks ago, Bright said. It was the gift of shelter volunteer, Louise Hadden and her husband Jim McIntosh, Bright said. They stepped up after Bright heard about the Dog Powered Scooter, and interviewed local people who owned one to evaluate the product’s quality in advance of acquiring a scooter for the MSPCA.
“It’s awesome fun,” Bright, a board certified behavior analyst, said, and she’s seeing evidence the dogs are stimulated after training on the new toy.
“The nice thing is, it’s a different kind of training than they’ve ever had,” she said, and the scooter gives the dogs a cure for boredom.
Take Marcus, the pit bull, she said. After teaching him to duck under the sidebar, Bright said, she watched Marcus try to apply his new skill to another situation. When he saw a cart with a handle, he ducked his head under, she said, wangling another treat.
“We gave him something new to think about,” she said.
As MSPCA training coordinator, Bright teaches 30 training classes at the MSPCA every week in obedience or agility. The organization also already owns a treadmill, which the dogs use to exercise.
The dogs enjoy the workout, she said, and they like the scooter, too.
“The dogs are practically jumping out of the car window,” she said, when they arrive at the parking lot. She uses a three-person team to train a dog on the scooter, she said, and they always start off with the animal on a leash.
But she sees progress fast. After only two weeks’ training, for example, Joi, a 10-month old pit bull, had learned to pull and could make the scooter sail across the MSPCA parking lot.
The scooter rides have turned into “awesome fun” for both the dogs and the volunteers, Rob Halpin, the MSPCA-Angell spokesman, said.
Bright, who has several teams of volunteers trained to work with the dogs on the treadmill, also hopes to develop scooter training teams, she said.
Bright has trained dogs for 10 years, starting with her own pet, Fanny, who became the U.S. top Agility bull terrier in 2005 and 2006. Fanny was a tough customer at first, Bright said, and wasn’t interested.
“I had to become a crackerjack trainer,” Bright said. “I had to be more fun than the rest of the world.”
Bright has since become the first person to earn a Master of Science degree in Applied Behavior Analysis with an animal specialty at Simmons College where she is now a doctoral candidate. An expert on answering the question “why dogs do what they do,” she also helps evaluate dogs at the shelter and designs training programs.
How to Help: Go to www.mspca.org to contribute to the MSPCA.
Have you heard about a pet-powered scooter before? What do you think of this gadget? Tell us below!
4 years ago
wow this sounds kinda dangerous but I like the idea when I open my rescue some of the pets are gonna be trained to help out like employees would and they will be adoptable but they will be working with one certain employee until they get adopted or the employee adopts them the employees will also be aloud to foster them if they want to they will get to name them and work with them and pick which one to work with outta all of the pets that are there like a dog or a cat maybe even a bird or a pig this is how my rescue will work.
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