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Rattlesnake Avoidance Training For Dogs

OAKHURST – Kellen Rescue is sponsoring Rattlesnake Avoidance Training for your dogs on Saturday, July 11, in Oakhurst.

rattleAlthough rattlesnakes are out and about, they rarely bite unless they feel threatened or provoked. Our dogs can be naturally curious with rattlesnakes, resulting in disastrous and costly consequences but there is training available to your dog that help them avoid rattlesnakes.

What is Rattlesnake Avoidance Training?

Rattlesnake Avoidance Training has been shown to be safe and effective and can help prevent your dog from a bit by a rattlesnake. This type of training teaches your dog to avoid the sight, sound and smell of rattlesnakes.

During the training, the rattlesnake is muzzled to ensure the safety of your dog and our trainers. Your dog is led by a handler up to live rattlesnakes, and is taught aversive behavior using a low level stimulus from an “electronic collar”.

Rattlesnake avoidance training 1Last year, my dog Sally went through this training and I highly recommend the class for anyone who has a dog in rattlesnake country. I wanted to share Sally and my experience with the training, with the hope that it better explains what is involved.

There were three rounds to Sally’s training. Kelly first led Sally up near the rattlesnake and when Sally got a whiff of it, he watched how she reacted.

Sally was curious and started sniffing around on the ground for where that smell could be coming from. She was a couple feet from the cage when she saw the snake and it raised up to her.

Kelly activated the collar, yelled “Snake!” and excitedly led Sally away from the snake, getting her kind of excited about the thing that had happened, impressing upon Sally that this was a scary thing. Kelly then ran away from the snake. As you can see, Sally wanted out of that area quick. Each dog got a turn with this phase.

Rattlesnake avoidance training 2On the next round, Kelly had moved the snake and covered the cage with a towel. I led Sally in a relaxed way over to that area and I read Sally’s body language as we got closer. It was obvious that she had gotten a whiff of something but didn’t know exactly what it was. When she got that whiff, she looked at me for reassurance or as if to tell me something is up.

We kept wandering in the direction of the cage until Sally knew something was in it and she kind of wanted to take a closer look, so her collar was activated for one quick time, I yelled “Snake!” and ran Sally a short distance away, making a big deal about her, checking her over, then we ran off.

The other dogs took their turn at this and one of them didn’t want to get close to the snake, even using its body to block its owner from the snake.

The final round helped reinforce what Sally had already learned and as we got closer to the snake, Sally kept looking to me for what she should do. As we got even closer, Sally didn’t want to move any closer to the snake so that was a good thing. I yelled snake and we ran off a distance away from that snake.

The class was also educational. Kelly shared with us how to minimize snakes around our houses, how best to deal with one if you do come across one and how to treat a dog in case it is bitten, discussing the latest shots out there and the pluses and negatives to these approaches.

This year’s “guest” rattlesnake was found in a garage in Yosemite Lakes Park and rescued the next morning. They use live snakes because nothing moves, smells or sounds like a rattlesnake, but a real rattlesnake.

How much does the Rattlesnake Avoidance Training cost? The cost is $75 for one dog. If you own a second dog and bring it to the same session, it would be $50 for the second dog. Discounts are available for Search and Rescue Team members and for seniors.

100 percent of the fee from the class goes toward dog food and vet bills at Kellen Rescue. Kellen Rescue is a no-kill rescue, rehabilitation and placement organization whose mission is to partner loving lifetime homes with the dogs and cats in their foster care network.

Kelly also invites dogs (and their humans) to come to future classes at no charge for reinforcement and testing of the training.

Who do I contact about the Rattlesnake Avoidance Class? Contact Ellen at Kellen Rescue, Inc., for details such as the location and time. Email or call (209) 742-4294.

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