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Snake avoidance training for dogs could save lives

Snake avoidance training for dogs could save lives
Posted at 10:32 PM, May 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-04 01:32:07-04

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Snake season is here and while you might not be able to smell a rattler one from a distance, your dog can.

Paul Blaushild has been training dogs for nearly 50 years. He owns ‘A-dobe Dog Training.’

“We want to save your dog. We want to save your pocketbook, and then save you too, because if you learn as we go through this. Things that we point out, signals your dog is giving, you won’t walk into the snake,” said Blaushild.

To help prevent snake bites, carver partnered up with Jeff Carver, a professional snake wrangler and an owner of ‘Arizona Animal Experts.’

Jeff uses the snakes he catches from homes, and may use them in a session before releasing them out into the wild.

The goal of the class is to teach your dog to pull away if they spot a snake. At first an owner could see this as the dog misbehaving.

However, in this case, if your dog suddenly goes in one direction, you’ll want to follow.

“You don’t know they’re there. Follow your dog,” added Blaushild when talking about the rattlesnakes.

Meantime, Carver says this training could save lives, especially now that daytime calls for rattlers is at an all time high--for ‘Arizona Animal Experts.’

“We are getting more snake calls than any other time of the year right now. The snake has decided that he wants to self quarantine under bushes, underneath patio furniture, or inside a barbecue,” Carver told KGUN9.

So the duo works together. One, handling the rattlesnakes.

The other, training the dog through the five stations.

“So the first one we actually use a rattlesnake proxy. Looks pretty real, sitting on rags kept with the live snakes. Then we’ll move one to the second station with a live snake that will be rattling and that we refer as a sound station,” said Blaushild.

All live snakes are muzzled for the safety of both the dog and their owner.

“So then we’ll move to a third station which has a snake that has taped up the rattles,” added Blaushild.

Carver says there is a reason for that.

“A wet rattle makes no noise. We learned that when we were catching snakes during monsoon season,” added the professional snake wrangler.

So for this station the goal is for the dog to see the snake, and stay away.

The fourth station is also for scent recognition.

Then the last station really tests the dogs ability to learn and retain.

“The fifth station is where we somewhat chase the dog away bringing the snake up to him,” said Blaushild.

The professional dog trainer says positive affirmation is a must throughout the training.

The dog is also given low level shocks.

“We want him to be scared thinking the snake has done that to him,” added Blaushild.

So here’s what you can expect once your dog has gone through the roughly 10 minute training session.

“They'll switch sides on you, suddenly. The other signal is, they’ll put the brakes on and they don’t want to go any further,” Blaushild told KGUN9.

If you’re out walking, remember while snakes can strike roughly two thirds their body length, Carver says the last thing they want to do is attack.

“They want to be left alone. That’s what the rattling is about. It’s not to be menacing. It’s not anything other than hey I’m here, leave me alone,” he added.

For more information on how you can get your dog trained click here.