Keeping safe from Rattlesnakes

Some dog owners assume that dogs instinctively avoid snakes. But anecdotal reports of dogs actively avoiding snakes are just that: anecdotal. Unless you have witnessed your dog going out of her way to avoid snakes, you should always assume the worst. Snake bites on dogs are potentially life-threatening emergencies and require the administration of antivenin in order to save the dog’s life. Additionally, tissue damage at the site of the bite may require follow-up treatment, and the bill can easily run into several thousand dollars.
An estimated 85 percent of all snake bites to pets happen in their own backyard. So, the most important part of teaching snake avoidance does not involve humans: the dog must learn what to do when confronted with the sight, sound, and/or smell of a snake when the human is missing.

Positive training methods can be effective for teaching dogs to avoid snakes. These methods focus on rewarding activities that are fun for dogs and handlers. Dogs learn to pay attention to their owners in addition to learning to avoid rattlesnakes through sight, scent, sound and movement. In the webminar Training Rattlesnake Avoidance Force Free and in the DVD Positive Rattlesnake Avoidance Training and Safety Program dog trainer Pamela Johnson teaches games, tricks and agility behaviors to keep your dog safe. Similarly, dog trainer Jamie Robinson in the book Snake Avoidance Without Shock provides instructions for playing one game lasting five minutes or less per day within a six-weeks training program.

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