Desert Messenger

February 6, 2013

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February 6, 2013 Crowds finding deals at the Big Tent Snake proof your dog By Jim Walkington The process of training dogs to avoid rattlesnakes is known by various names: snake proofing, snake breaking, and snake training. To be accurate, if not pedantic, the process should be called rattlesnake avoidance training or rattlesnake aversion training. However, for the sake of uniformity, the term snake proofing will be used in this article. There are two main schools of thought when training dogs to avoid rattlesnakes. Put the rattlesnake out on the ground, or keep the rattlesnake confined in a cage. Both groups agree that an e-collar—a shock collar is necessary for the training process. The dog wears a collar with a small box attached that receives a signal from a transmitter that's held by the trainer. When the trainer pushes a button on the transmitter, the dog receives a brief, harmless, but attention grabbing shock. The dog associates the shock with the rattlesnakes which makes the dog think something like, those things seem pretty cranky, I don't like 'em. Snake proofing techniques Snake on the ground First and foremost, the rattlesnake has to be rendered harmless to the dog, handler, owner, and spectators. This is accomplished by pulling out the snake's fangs or taping their mouth Tour bus from Riverside visit Paul Winer snake's smell first and foremost. They maintain that rattlesnakes are not normally lying out in the open awaiting attack from predators. Rattlesnakes are usually under some type of cover; rocks, brush, cactus. After training, the dog may never see the reptile, but may smell them and avoid contact that way. shut. When this is accomplished, the snake is placed on the ground and the dog is allowed to "find" the snake. When the dog discovers the snake they are given a shock via the shock collar. Snake in a cage This method uses a live rattlesnake(s) contained in a cage, a pen, or other device where the dog cannot come into direct contact with the snake. The dog is walked up to the cage and when they indicate they understand that there's something in the cage they are corrected via the shock collar. Page 37 So, in its simplest form, snake proofing is: introduce a dog to a rattlesnake, and then shock the dog with a shock collar when they "discover" the snake. There might be other methods to snake proof a dog without using a shock collar but the process would be time consuming, cost prohibitive, and probably not as effective as the shock collar method. Some people have an unfavorable opinion of e-collars and don't want to see their dog "shocked". Unfortunately, no other safe and humane way has proven to be as effective in deterring dogs from the danger that a venomous snake can present. In addition, if you want the dog to avoid rattlesnakes you must use live rattlesnakes in the training process. Dead snakes smell different than live snakes and the dog's acute sense of smell can detect the difference. Use dead snakes in the training process, and the dog will avoid every dead rattlesnake he encounters. The Debate The snake on the ground group maintains the concept that the dog needs to see, hear and smell the snake before the shock is applied. This contingent will sometimes allow the muzzled snake to strike the dog then apply the shock. The snake in the cage folks do not dispute this concept, only the order in which the dog's senses should be engaged. They want the dog to smell, Gopher snakes, (bull snakes) are a hear, then see, the snake. This group different genius and species than ratwants the dog to react to the rattle- tlesnakes. It doesn't make sense that they would smell like a rattlesnake. It would be like someone saying that a horse and a sheep smells alike to a dog. Would you believe that? Yet, some trainers use only bull snakes to train dogs to avoid rattlesnakes. So, which group is correct in their training methods? The answer is both. Both methods work fine if done correctly. The timing of the shock is critical. It must be applied then the dog discovers the snake either on the ground or in the cage. It is up to the owner to do their homework--call trainers and ask questions, lots of questions. If you don't have a good feeling about one trainer, keep shopping. An excellent way to start the search is to use the internet. Google the following key words: rattlesnakes, dogs, (name of your state) for example: dogs, rattlesnakes, Arizona, you will be surprised at the information that pops up. Jim Walkington is the owner of Viper Voidance, a New River, Arizona, company that trains dogs to avoid rattlesnakes. He will be in Quartzsite, AZ on February 16th and 17th 2013, at the Quartzsite Football/Soccer field (East on Chandler street) Call Jim at 480-215-1776 to sign your dog up for a training time. For more information, see his website

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