New Zealand's Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is putting three of its rescued dogs through an intensive course — teaching them to drive.

It's part of a publicity campaign in South Auckland to raise awareness about the intelligence of man's best friend, and to encourage people to adopt rescue dogs.

The plan began with master animal trainer Mark Vette, New Zealand's TV3 reports. The students include Monty, an 18-month-old giant schnauzer, Ginny, a one-year-old whippet crossbreed, and Porter, a 10-month-old beardie crossbreed.

The dogs are being trained to steer and shift gears, media reports say, and trainers are using both a rig that can simulate automobile motion and tests with a specially adapted Mini automobile.

When the teaching is complete, the dogs are expected to demonstrate their abilities in a televised test.