Ryan and Jennifer Tate have recently moved to our area from Sydney, and they bring a wealth of animal training experience with them!
The pair met when they were working at Taronga Zoo, but soon developed their own business, working and training with some very special animals. Read on to find out about some of the amazing projects the Tate’s animal crew are involved with …
Hi guys. You met while working at Taronga Zoo … what were your roles there?
R: I supervised the marine animal department; I have a background in marine biology, so I was involved in training, research and conservation projects.
J: I worked with a wide variety of animals, including big cats, giraffes and bears, but my core interest and passion has always been for native Australian mammals.
When did you set up Tate Animal Training Enterprises – and what was the impetus behind starting your own business?
J: Ryan had been training dogs and birds on the side virtually forever, and once we realised we’d both achieved all our personal and professional goals in the zoo industry as employees, we decided to take the next step and expand the business into conservation and detection dogs more seriously.
We have never stopped working in the zoo industry; we are still consultants to a number of zoos and aquariums around Australia, and by running our own business we are able to be involved in a huge variety of conservation projects.
Why did you decide to relocate from Sydney to King Creek?
R: We work on a number of koala detection and conservation projects on the Mid North Coast and further north. During our trips up down the coast, we fell in love with Port Macquarie. The diversity of the coastline, abundance of forests, National Parks, as well as great local produce got us across the line.
Your business has many special areas of expertise. Firstly, tell us about your conservation detection dogs … what is their role in the community; have their skills been put to use in our local area?
J: We own and handle a variety of conservation dogs. These are dogs that sniff out animals and/or plants of interest. These can be threatened species like koalas or quolls that we have been helping a variety of agencies and researchers find in the area, or pest species like foxes, rabbits and feral cats.
Recently Ryan was working with the PMHC Council finding Alligator Weed with Connor. This is a weed of national significance that quickly chokes up waterways if not controlled.
You offer different types of workshops – and home consults too. What are some of the things you can teach dogs (and their people)?
J: Our workshops vary from scent detection to obedience and puppy school; at the moment most of them are running in Sydney or other major cities, where we get engaged by local businesses, dog clubs and Councils to put them on.
We do offer home consults as well, but because we can be on the road a lot, we have a team of trainers and trusted contractors we can refer to if we are unable to fit them in.
We have not started any workshops in Port, yet, but it is absolutely on the agenda for 2019! We will advertise them on our website and Facebook pages.
Ari, your Australian Shepherd, has a few claims to fame. What are some his achievements?
R: Ari is the most popular and recognised dog we have ever owned. He held the world record for the most dog tricks in under a minute for a while, and as a result of those skills appeared on many, many commercials for pet food companies, cars, banks and even in some movies.
Apart from dogs, what other animals do you work with? I’ve heard you’ve trained a very special pigeon named Alf?
J: we both have a soft spot for birds, and one of the vet clinics we do work for was handed Alfred as a chick. When they realised he was a Rock Pigeon (a feral), they could not release him. They asked us if we were interested; we took him in for a trial, and he bonded immediately with our dogs – particularly Ari. So, he stayed.
As we do with all of our animals, Alfred became very well trained. He has done many demonstrations on how birds can (and have been) used for search and rescue and delivering messages or collecting intelligence incognito. He has also appeared in commercials and helps train dogs not to chase birds!
How can you help with dangerous dogs?
Two other areas of our business include dangerous dog workshops, where we educate the public on how to avoid and handle aggression. Our dogs are trained to bite a protection sleeve on cue.
We also work with Sydney based pyschologist Anthony Berrick, who specialises in Cynophobia clients (a fear of dogs). With the help of our dogs, the transformation is amazing. Some people haven’t left their house for decades for fear of bumping into an off lead dog. By the end of the programme they are playing tug, going for walks with our dogs and even putting on the sleeve and copping a bite.
Where can we find out more about you/contact you?
R and J: For any enquiries, please head to our website www.tateanimals.com
We also give plenty of free tips and updates on our social media pages @tateanimals on Facebook and Instagram.
Thanks Ryan and Jennifer.
Interview: Jo Robinson.