Griffith researchers aim to save local wildlife with better-trained dogs

It’s a well-established truth that dogs are man’s best friend, but the same can’t always be said for the local wildlife who cross their path.

In fact, dog attacks are the third-most common cause of death among koalas – and given their Vulnerable status as per the International Union for Conservation of Nature, that’s a problem.

That’s one of the reasons why a team of Griffith Business School researchers are working with the Redlands City Council to implement the Leave It program, an 18-month project aimed at reducing the rate of attacks by domesticated dogs on native animals.

Leave It stems from Social Marketing @ Griffith research surveying more than 350 dog owners in the Redlands, which found that 10 per cent of the region’s beloved hounds had caught wildlife in their travels, and 9 per cent had gone on to kill their prey.

Led by project director Professor Sharyn Rundle-Thiele and managed by PhD candidate Jessica Harris, Leave It was initially piloted to great success last year under the stewardship of Dr Bo Pang and Research Fellow Patricia David, both of whom remain in the management team.

Now, Jessica says, the program is focused on making a real impact on the Redlands puppy-predator problem.

Firstly, the team will be hosting a train the trainer’s program for Redlands dog trainers and breeders hosted by renowned trainers Steve Austin and Ryan Tate, on Saturday and Sunday 15 & 16 September and 27 & 28 October respectively.

Leave It will also be running public two-hour seminars with Austin and Tate on 15 September and 27 October.

“The train the trainer’s workshops will consist of behaviour training of basic commands – such as sit, stay, heel and so on – as well as koala aversion, which will be the session’s main topic,” Jessica said.

“The two-hour seminars will be free for the public to attend to pick up some basic training tips and tricks to have better-behaved dogs at home.

“Our primary goal with the program is to have well-trained dogs in the Redlands shire to ensure they avoid wildlife and reduce their impact on the local environment.”

Jessica says that any dog trainer who attends one of Leave It’s workshops and implements the strategies canvassed on the day will receive six months free dog registration to pass onto their clients, who they would also train in the techniques.

The Saturday workshops and seminars will be held at the Cleveland Assembly Hall (46 Smith Street), while Leave It will run Sunday’s events in Alexandra Hills (131-135 Finucane Road).

For more information about Leave It, see the program’s website.