Sunday, July 10, 2011

Rattlesnake Adversion Training

Rattlesnake avoidance training was $75 per dog.  Money very well spent. 

A safe Western rattlesnake used in training

 Bailey, Chloe and I do hundreds of miles of hiking in the hills of Northern California and other western states.  We come across rattlesnakes way too often to not having this training. 

 After the 20 minutes spent with each dog, I am MUCH MORE comfortable that Bailey and Chloe not only will avoid rattlesnakes, but warn me that one is around.

The training took place yesterday afternoon in Livermore, California in a corral at a private residence.

"We did snake aversion training with Patrick Cavanaugh (now deceased) two summers ago and it paid off immediately a few days later during a walk along the Sacramento River. I was checking my dog over for foxtails when he suddenly jumped five feet sideways...At the moment he jumped I heard a sound like rattling leaves and looked down to see a coiled rattler about five feet away.  Well worth the money!" - Janet Fullwood - editor Dogtrekker

Bailey and Chloe ready for their training run
We use a four step process that is more effective than any other form out there.

We are the only ones that use a variety of rattlesnake species, specific to the particular areas in which your dog lives. Every snake has a specific odor and pattern that your dog will recognize.
* I would also like to note that all dogs "choose" the level of intensity used with the collar during training. The level is slowly increased until the dog responds, and under most conditions will not be elevated beyond that intensity. Good timing is far more important than level of correction. We do not believe in "shutting dogs down," and believe in working within the dogs quirks and needs.

Very young snake with no rattle but a scent the dogs can pick up
Trainer getting Bailey ready for his run.  15' check cord and training collar.

Mouth banded so it can not be opened.
The first step focuses on the smell. Using a low level electronic correction collar, your dog will learn to associate the smells of the snake with a negative stimulus and thus begin the aversion process.

Rattlesnake skin on a stick that had been shed. 
This puppy below did not have a good nose like a Vizsla.  It had a very hard time picking up a scent of the snake.  Bailey and Chloe picked it up right off.
Trainer trying to get the dog to acknowledge that there is a snake there.  This pup did not have a nose!

This dog shows interest and the trainer uses the training collar for aversion training

The second step focuses on the sound of the rattle, in which the same process will be used to teach your dog about the danger associated with the sound.

This is a fake rock "cage" holding a rattlesnake that rattled as dog came close.
The third step puts it all together. Your dog will be introduced to a rattlesnake that has been safely muzzled. It is during this step you dog can use all three senses to fully recognize the danger associated with the snake.
There is a snake between the trainer and dog with the owner.  Does the dog avoiding the snake on the way to its owner?  This is a final test.

The fourth and final step is the introduction of a small juvenile rattlesnake, incapable of rattling. To further drive home the association of the danger involved with the snakes.

In April of this year, we were in the Mojave Desert and came across North America's most dangerous rattlesnake: the Mojave Green.


John Connelly said...

Very interesting Rod - if we lived in CA we'd definately have the course for Radar and Rio. We are fortunate in not having any seriously deadly snakes in UK but two (small) dogs have died this year after being bitten by the "adder" viper which is common here. We carry antihistamine to treat a bit dog until we can get to a vet and some anti-venom but I am going to see if there is a similar course here.

Cindy Mommsen said...

Great information, I will definitely be looking into this for Turbie and Remo. We are on the trails every day and between foxtails and snakes, I'm constantly on the look out.