About Snake Avoidance

Rattlesnakes are native to the western United States and are most commonly seen during the spring and autumn when daytime temperatures are between 80-90F.   Outdoor enthusiasts that hike, fish, hunt and camp may be putting their dogs at risk of being bitten by rattlesnakes.  It is best to teach your dog to avoid rattlesnakes with simple, quick and harmless aversion training techniques. Many dogs are naturally curious when they see a rattlesnake or hear its rattle. They will walk right up and put their nose on the snake, which often results in a bite and envenomation. Treatment for rattlesnake envenomation is costly and may not be available in remote areas.

During our aversion training clinic, we teach dogs to avoid the sight, scent, and sound of nonvenomous Gopher snakes which look like and exhibit the same behavior as rattlesnakes. By using live snakes, we can safely give your dog 10 to 12 opportunities to encounter a snake scenerio in various habitats.   The snakes are loose on the ground but controlled by a Certified Snake Handler from the SRVGDC. The dogs are taught to steer clear of snakes by aversion or avoidance training, which by its nature involves fear and surprise.  We use a remote electronic collar on the dog. When the dog encounters a snake or shows curiosity to a snake, a brief (less than one second) unpleasant stimulation is applied to the dog.  The dog will associate the unpleasantness of the shock with the snake and not you or other humans.  The obstacle course takes approximately 20 minutes to complete, during which time we are conscientious in keeping the snakes comfortable and teaching your dog to avoid snakes by Sight, Scent, and Sound.

Having highly experienced dog trainers who each have aversion trained between 200 to over 1,000 dogs is the key to successful avoidance training.  Timing and the intensity of the correction is critical. All dogs react differently to the training.  For example, too little stimulation will result in a dog that does not have enough respect for snakes and may choose to investigate one again in the future.  If too much stimulation is given, the dog may become overly stressed or even panicked about the entire process and not learn to specifically avoid the snakes.  The Trainer’s ability to “read” the actions and demeanor of the dog play a key role in making these decisions.  Therefore, any rattlesnake aversion trainer should be a highly experienced professional or hobbyist dog trainer to start with in order to provide the skills necessary for successful aversion training.  Our Trainers will be one-on-one with you and will focus on your dog’s reaction and body language to the snake. Please see the “Trainers” tab for more information on our experience level. Training costs for this one day community service event are $50 per registered dog and $60 for walk-ups.