Conservation Dog Trainer

Meet conservation dog trainer extraordinaire Gary Jackson and learn how you can actively protect wild animals with your canine companion!

Wildlife people are amazing: Gary Jackson

I met Gary when he was helping out training Oscar, the first koala conservation dog, on a paradisiac island off the Australian coast. I was part of the interested team that had organised the training session, and was watching every bit with great attention.

To meet Gary is to be swept away in a whirl of passion, enthousiasm and pure love-for-life! It's a pretty full-on experience, let me tell you.

This boundless energy is probably a big factor in Gary's success and many achievements.

Gary is a true groundbreaking dog trainer star, being involved in many firsts in Australia and in the world:

  • first cadaver dogs to find human remains
  • first cancer dog
  • first koala poo detection dog
  • first archaeological dog

Gary is a truly inspirational conservationist, and thanks to his talent, passion and generosity many conservation dogs are actively protecting wild animals.

In an exclusive interview for Wildhelpers, Gary shares his experience as a conservation dog trainer, the best and the worst bits of his job and how much you can achieve in this path.

Gary Jackson with the great conservation dog Angus, a black labrador that can sniff invasive red-eared slider turtles.

Interview with Gary Jackson

What do you do as a conservation dog trainer?

My job is a full time dog trainer teaching dogs to find different stuff with their nose.

I have a selection of dog programs so I am always testing dogs and then training them for very important jobs.

We have trained dogs to do many world firsts in detection including dogs to locate:

  • cane toads,
  • slider turtles,
  • koalas,
  • quolls,
  • pigmy blue tongue lizards,
  • even archaeology and cancer detection.

Oh, we also do explosives, drugs etc. 

What is the best part of being a conservation dog trainer?

The greatest part is setting up searches and working the dogs in different ways and watching the dogs succeed in locating the target odour, then going on to operational searches and finding stuff.

I love bush walking and been one with nature, I see everything as a miracle and appreciate wildlife so much.

I also love talking to experts in their field and been enriched with the awesome knowledge they share on plants, animals etc.

To me this is brilliant.

Gary Jackson with one of his detection dog in action!

Here the world very first archaelogical dog, the famous Migaloo!

What is the worst part of being a conservation dog trainer?

The most difficult part is finding the right dogs and then the problem solving to get the dog to overcome distractions and weaknesses, etc.

The boring parts can sometimes be the continual setting up of searches and racking your brain in case you missed something, you do the search put the dog away and redo the search area and start again, so there is a lot of repetitive work.

How do you become a conservation dog trainer?

I have always been a dog trainer but as the opportunity came to train environmental dogs I jumped at it.

You have to create your own opportunities so I researched and tested many types of dogs to become conservation dogs, and selected several to start training for endangered species and pests.

I rescued the dogs from death row, trained them and donated the dogs to environmental heroes who donate their time for nature and wildlife, I also train the handlers.

How much difference to wildlife conservation can a conservation dog trainer make?

I know there are hundreds if not 1000’s of animal alive today because of the environmental dogs!

As an example we have cane toad detection dogs working on cane toad free islands in Australia, if cane toads go past the dogs they will wipe out the quoll and hoping mouse population and other species.

Koalas have been saved from back burning operations as the koala detection dogs have located the individuals before the fire is started.


When your dog’s locate many pests from cane toads, foxes, slider turtles etc. and they are removed from the environment how many native species did they save?

Intelligence is not the memorising of documented known facts but Imagination to create something that never was and turn it into a reality for the benefit of mankind.

Gary Jackson


Gary is very active on the Net!

You can visit Gary and his conservation dogs on his website, or watch conservation dog videos or even follow him and his conservation dogs on facebook...

So hope you go and check the amazing things you can achieve as a conservation dog trainer...

Be inspired for wildlife!