How effective really is Rattlesnake avoidance Training?
Let’s shine a light on how it is typically conducted and how strongly it can prevent the dog from getting bit!
Typically all dog owners attending training for snake avoidance meet at a certain place that a trainer has picked for a gathering. The snake (hopefully freshly defanged) is put in a mash basket or is free on the ground. The dog has just gotten the electric collar put on him right before, in preparation to be shocked once he is brought up to the snake and hopefully smells, sees. and hears the snake rattle! Thus, after a few repetitions, he will avoid the snake.
That all looks and sounds good…..
We all know that dogs learn pictures!
He just learned this very specific picture during this session.
Picture is: Arriving at a specific location, a tight collar being put on, seeing something he has never seen before (snake), and then being shocked when presented with the new object. – that works! Right here and right now….
Unfortunately, you need the dog to generalize the response. That means that this very training would need to happen in the “picture” that we need it to function in. On the trail, in the yard, during the walk at the park…
Nevertheless, wearing the electric collar at the time of training only, might present a different picture to your dog.
I have had the opportunity to observe (test) three dogs that had just been “snake avoidance trained” two weeks prior, when we found a rattlesnake under the house. After it’s head was “secured” it was still rattling and moving, and we let the dogs (one at a time) be exposed to it.
The Labrador retriever that goes through annual snake avoidance training got four inches close to the snake and sniffed it….and then jumped back. Obviously it could have been too late for him by that time.
The two German Shepherds just walked over it!
Conclusion- the rattlesnake avoidance training could be most effective if the dog is trained in all different areas, and at all different times of the day.
That would take a tremendous effort!
To help prevent snake bites more easily and effortless:
1) Check your yard before you let your dog out.
2) Have your dog close to you during walks, so you can see what is going on on the ground level.
3) Training a reliable recall could be another helpful feature to have. Once you see your dogs behavior changing because he senses something strange, you would be able to just call him away from it instantly!
4) The snake bite vaccination has been proven to depress the symptoms after the bite tremendously- something worth considering, it is fairly inexpensive!