Rattlesnake avoidance training - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 32 (permalink) Old 08-19-2018, 05:36 PM Thread Starter
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Rattlesnake avoidance training

Does anybody have any feedback regarding rattlesnake avoidance training or taught their own pup rattlesnake avoidance? When my pup gets older, I'm going to start hiking with her and eventually she will be off the leash when hiking. An encounter with a rattlesnake is likely. I'm likely going to get her the rattlesnake vaccine, but even then my Vet said they still have to be brought in for emergency and sometimes still need antivenin. Knowing how expensive that is, I think it's worth my time and money to seek out training for avoidance.

Does anybody have any experience going to training or training their pups rattlesnake avoidance? Would using fake snakes work? Should I teach her now or should I wait until I start hiking with her? She's 15 weeks old. I probably won't start hiking with her until after a year when her hips are fully developed.

Appreciate any advice on the topic.
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post #2 of 32 (permalink) Old 08-19-2018, 05:43 PM
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Where do you live? Are there Rat Snakes where you live? Do you know someone with chickens? Sounds funny but this is how I snake proofed Inga.

Texas Rat Snakes are good sized harmless snakes, that is, they have little hooky teeth and are non venonous. The males are hot tempered. They will bite to defend themselves.
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post #3 of 32 (permalink) Old 08-19-2018, 05:48 PM
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They go into henhouses and eat chicken eggs. They are easy to catch in a henhouse. Be aware if it is a male he will try to bite you. Get him behind the head. If he bites you just wash the place with soap and water.

When he has calmed down somewhat, call you dog over and hold the snake out to her. She will come sniff the snake. The snake will then tag her right on the nose. The snake will have a snakey smell too that the dog will never forget.

Inga got tagged on the nose and now she avoids all snakes. Thats a good thing too because there are Timber Rattlers, Cottonmounths, Copperheads and Coral snakes here.

Anyone can snake proof their dog this way. The other night Inga was going around the feedshed and suddenly shot away like she was propelled by a rocket. I went and looked and it was a (harmless) Coachwhip snake.

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Last edited by Nurse Bishop; 08-19-2018 at 06:26 PM.
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post #4 of 32 (permalink) Old 08-19-2018, 05:57 PM
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Range of various Rat Snakes-
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post #5 of 32 (permalink) Old 08-19-2018, 06:10 PM
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For whatever reason last year we ran into snakes regularly, almost every hike and in some instances rattle snakes. None of my dogs ever showed any interest, zero.
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post #6 of 32 (permalink) Old 08-19-2018, 06:41 PM
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I think you need to get him trained on the rattle sound as well.
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post #7 of 32 (permalink) Old 08-19-2018, 07:05 PM
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Lots of trainers offer rattlesnake avoidance training here in Tucson. Lots of people swear by it. The classes I’m familiar with use shock collars or shocks in the target ‘snake’ to freak out and/or cause pain in the dog, the idea being that then the dog will associate pain and fear with and so avoid rattlesnakes. I don’t know about that. Besides hating the idea of causing him fear and pain on purpose, I don’t know that it’s a guarantee with a strong dog.

My girl dog had high prey drive and back east chased and caught a skunk eventually. Whew, what a stink! After that experience, she *hated* skunks, and ever after was twice as determined to kill any skunk she saw. At least once a spring she got nailed, once right in the back yard. So I figure, avoidance training could have the opposite of the intended affect. Do not want a dog who wants to kill rattlers.

I personally have relied on Beau’s very strong Leave It, and once had to use it with a rattler when he was 14 months old. So far, so good.
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post #8 of 32 (permalink) Old 08-19-2018, 08:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dutchy View Post
Does anybody have any feedback regarding rattlesnake avoidance training or taught their own pup rattlesnake avoidance? When my pup gets older, I'm going to start hiking with her and eventually she will be off the leash when hiking. An encounter with a rattlesnake is likely. I'm likely going to get her the rattlesnake vaccine, but even then my Vet said they still have to be brought in for emergency and sometimes still need antivenin. Knowing how expensive that is, I think it's worth my time and money to seek out training for avoidance.

Does anybody have any experience going to training or training their pups rattlesnake avoidance? Would using fake snakes work? Should I teach her now or should I wait until I start hiking with her? She's 15 weeks old. I probably won't start hiking with her until after a year when her hips are fully developed.

Appreciate any advice on the topic.
My one experience with a rattle snake vs GSD was at night. Me and Scout were out at night back home in North Bama when we walked up on the biggest Rattle Snake Ive ever seen in my life. He was at least 5 1/2 to 6 feet long. A pure beast. I hollard at Scout as he was walking up on him and Scout jumped back as the snake struck. The snake did not get a hit but it was awful close. It was like Scout already knew (like humans know) to stay out of the way.
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post #9 of 32 (permalink) Old 08-19-2018, 08:51 PM
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Shooter, yikes, sounds scary! And very lucky for Scout.
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post #10 of 32 (permalink) Old 08-19-2018, 09:11 PM
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There are several threads in the archives that you should read -- these classes are notorious for backfiring spectacularly with some dogs (making dogs shut down in fear or get really angry when they encounter snakes -- both of which are dangerous reactions). And you'll be paying someone to really hurt your dog, as these are not little shocks these guys are using.



Have you looked into the rattlesnake vaccine's details to get you more time (and potentially a lower dose of antivenin)? It's not a great solution, but it you are far away from vet care it might help buy time. When I last looked, it was only good for about 6 months and takes a few weeks to get peak protection. It also doesn't cover all species of pit vipers. It's a complicated decision as to whether to get it!
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Last edited by Magwart; 08-19-2018 at 09:13 PM.
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