Deadly conibear traps: can I teach this? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-17-2013, 02:39 PM Thread Starter
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Deadly conibear traps: can I teach this?

Last night the skijor club hosted a presentation on how to get dogs out of traps where members of the trapping association came and let us practice releasing leg-hold and deadly conibear traps. An example of what we learned is here- How to Release Your Dog from a Conibear Trap..

Apparently, trapping is legal pretty much anywhere in the state- traps do not need to be marked, and the wolverine size conibear sets are large enough to snap on all but the biggest of dogs- easily GSD size. I personally know two people who had dogs caught in conibears- if it doesn't kill on strike, the dog will suffocate in less than ten minutes unless you can release him/her. Which is hard to do.

So I'm wondering if I can train my dogs to stay away from a conibear set. We cruise the backcountry regularly.

The set for a conibear that would be large enough for a GSD is generally a bucket, with food in the back like stinky salmon. The conibear is a square trap which is placed in the front of the bucket. When an animal- like a curious dog- puts it's head into the bucket to smell the food, it triggers the conibear which will snap shut on the dog's neck with 90 lbs of force. Example here-

Is it possible to use one-time aversion techniques to train my dogs to avoid this type of set? I can borrow a conibear (and make sure it is NOT set during training), but I wasn't sure what aversive to use, or how to make sure the dog makes the correct connection between the trap and the aversion.

I know what to look for to know if there is a trapline in the area- generally- but this type of training could save a dog's life if I for some reason don't see the signals that there are traps around.

What do people think?

I am also curious as to how the MWD for the Vietnam War were trained to detect trip wires and snares- could I train my malinois for this and let her alert me to the presence of traps? She has started detection training generally and is well suited for the work.

Last edited by Muskeg; 01-17-2013 at 02:42 PM.
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-17-2013, 04:06 PM
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I've never heard of this but it reminds me of "rattle snake aversion" training. Maybe look into what techniques rattle snake people are using?
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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-17-2013, 04:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Liesje View Post
I've never heard of this but it reminds me of "rattle snake aversion" training. Maybe look into what techniques rattle snake people are using?
Exactly what I was thinking. There are actual classes offered down here for Rattle Snake aversion. They utilize an e-collar. Most dogs will even avoid hose on the ground after that type of training. I've been told that you should do yearly re-fresher course as well.

Some people don't take the actual course. But still use the same method of the e-collar.

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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-23-2014, 01:42 AM
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There have been a few incidents of dogs being trapped/killed in north idaho lately, nothing in the news that I have seen, we got the info word of mouth through DWs training club.
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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-23-2014, 02:23 PM
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I really wish those traps would be outlawed. :/

Anyway, yeah, I'd look to rattlesnake avoidance training as the model to follow.

The problem -- and the reason I think this approach may be a lot less effective with conibear traps -- is that a rattlesnake is a very distinctive creature that is not inherently enticing. In fact, many dogs are wary of them even before aversion training.

A conibear trap might just look like a bucket with some salmon in it, and I'd be concerned about the effectiveness of the training when the traps are variable (different setups, different people's scents on them, etc.), the baits are variable, and it's much MUCH harder for the dog to generalize that "this is the real danger, this is what I need to avoid" vs. creating a superstitious avoidance of salmon or buckets.

I don't have a better alternative to suggest and if I were in your place I would give serious consideration to doing the aversion training anyway. But truthfully I am not optimistic about its benefits, because my suspicion is that this particular danger would be quite difficult for a dog to recognize and comprehend. After all, the whole point of the trap is to lure animals in and fool them into thinking there's no danger.

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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-23-2014, 05:45 PM Thread Starter
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This is an older thread, but I tend to simply try to avoid areas that may have traps. Or keep dogs on skijor line or leash if we are in areas with trap potential. Sadly, most of the traps that pose a danger to pet dogs are set out by people doing it as a "fun" hobby. These guys are less informed and less careful about checking traps and avoiding heavy-use areas. I know someone whose skijor dog was caught and killed in a snare when the towline broke. The snare was illegal. Didn't help the dog, though.

If you watch Werner Herzog's film- "Happy People" about trappers in the Siberian wilderness, one trapper talks about how he teaches his dog to stay away from windfall-like traps. Basically, they set up a "fake" trap, and when the dog goes to raid it, let the dog hang out in the trap overnight. After that, the trapper said, the dogs never show any more interest in traps. But these are not conibears, snares, or leg-hold traps. These are "cage" type traps that don't kill or hurt the animal.

The trapper's dogs were really cool village type spitz dogs. One ran something like 100 miles next to a snowmobile in one fell swoop. Pretty awesome.
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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-24-2014, 01:27 PM
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Traps are a huge risk where I live. I have also heard about people making "dummy" traps and letting their dogs get stuck in them overnight. I've also heard people train their dogs to never go after food out in the wild. They use an e-collar and some raunchy meat to accomplish this. I haven't tried either.

I ALWAYS carry this tool with me, a leash, and c-clamps. My dog runs without a leash but I had to train her to say close. If your dog runs off too far you're not likely going to be able to find her and free her in time.

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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-24-2014, 01:39 PM
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It does sound like food aversion training would be the best bet, since they're using food to lure the animals to the traps. The thought of my dog getting caught in a trap makes me feel sick. I'd definitely be looking into that type of training if this was something we had to contend with. Ugh!! Stay safe!!
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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 03-01-2014, 03:06 PM
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There is another approach used in areas where use of conibears and leg-hold traps is common. I'll start from the basics, so hopefully folks can understand how to adapt it for any local variances.

Traps (snares are another discussion) are metal: steel, to be more precise. Steel rusts. New traps, and traps stored over the off-season, are coated with a rust-preventative of some kind. Prior to the trapping season, traps are de-greased (often in boiling water). Then they are typically boiled in something to hide the metal smell.

The traditional scent used was logwood (a particular species of wood). The logwood chips or extracts would be boiled in water, and the traps dunked in this boiling water to remove the scent, and dye them brown. (Other cover scents may be used in some areas, you might want to check and see what is used locally.)

Training the dogs to avoid the scent of logwood (or whatever is used locally to cover the scent of the steel trap) serves to teach them to avoid most common on-land trap sets. Where I grew up, I also trained my dogs to avoid a couple of commonly-used scent baits.
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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 03-01-2014, 09:51 PM
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A couple days after posting on this thread we ran into this. It's a neck snare for a wolf.

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