Kiwi Aversion Training School

We host regular Kiwi Aversion Training Schools

"  Dogs - Man's best friend, but a Kiwi's worst Nightmare!  "

Radar Hill, Mahinepua and Tauranga Bay catchments are home to the North Island Brown Kiwi. Northland has one of the highest Kiwi populations within New Zealand and also the lowest life expectancy, with an average lifespan of 13-15 years compared to an expected lifespan of 50 years. Dogs are the most significant contributor to this appalling figure.


Kiwi, along with other ground-nesting and flightless endemic birds’ are pretty smelly, a consequence of adapting to an environment, unlike anywhere else on Earth, free from the threats of mammalian predators.

Kiwi smell very attractive to dogs, lack a breastplate and are easily injured by crushing injuries such as being picked up in a dog’s mouth. Even a small or highly trained dog with no intention of killing can kill a kiwi.

Kiwi groups and organizations throughout New Zealand are trying to halt the decline of Kiwi numbers and increase their expected lifespan.

Please, all dog owners in Kiwi areas, even if your dog is with you, it only takes lifting a Kiwi off the ground to cause a fatal injury.

KATS (Kiwi Aversion Training Scheme), designed by Kiwi specialists and dog behaviouralists, is one tool to reduce the incidence of dogs killing Kiwis.

What does KATS involve?

Training takes place in an area where Kiwis live and breed.

The aim is for a dog to recognize and avoid the Kiwi smell before a kiwi is forced to run. A moving object or running bird is always an invitation to a dog which we do not wish to make him resist. The aim is to keep the bird in the burrow and the dog in retreat.

A track is baited with Kiwi feathers, stools, frozen or freeze-dried Kiwi and breeding material.

The dog, wearing an electric collar, is taken for a walk with the owner and trainer along the baited track.

Once the dog identifies and moves close to a kiwi smell, the trainer gives the dog a shock stimulus from the collar. The strength of the shock stimulus is less than that of an electric fence and will not harm the dog.

The dog must think it is the kiwi smell which is giving the zap, not the person. The dog, trainer and owner continue on the walk past more kiwi smell.

The dog shows a strong aversion to the next kiwi smell. Most dogs get the message the first time. If the dog still reacts to the following Kiwi smell it may require a second shock stimulus.

Once the dog has shown an aversion to the Kiwi smell, it is taken back and is free to go home.

How often do I need KATS?

Ideally every 6 – 12 months to make sure the aversion still holds.

The same KATS walks are taken, if the dog shows aversion, nothing happens for another year.

It is usual for the aversion to hold well. Not many dogs require a second shock stimulus on their check walk. With this regime, dogs and Kiwis can thrive in the neighbourhood.

KATS dogs know they should not even approach a Kiwi. It does not mean a dog will never kill one, but it protects to some degree in casual encounters.

We are lucky to live with Kiwis somewhere close by. Dog owners, does your dog ever disobey? Oh, I thought so.

KATS is usually available every three months.

Mahinepua Radar-Hill Landcare Group (MRHLG) holds KATS sessions usually in July and January.

Puketi Forest usually holds KATS sessions in October and April.

There is no charge, although a koha for travelling expenses is always appreciated. Lesley, our KATS trainer, gives her time and expertise free of charge. Thank you, to her and all dog owners with KATS dogs who help keep our Kiwi safer.

Register for KATS

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