BY MA & PAW KENNEL CANINE TRAINING SERVICES
How old does my dog need to be? It is generally recommended that dogs be at least 6 months of age at the time of the training. This is to ensure that they are developmentally mature enough to make the correct association during the training. This general rule will vary by breed and size of dogs. Smaller dogs mature sooner, while larger dogs mature slower.
How big does my dog need to be? Any size dog will benefit from this training. Any dog, that can come into contact with a rattlesnake, will benefit no matter the size. Our trainers have equipment that is suitable for all. They have trained Mastiffs and Great Danes to small Tea Cup Maltese and Chihuahuas.
When should I have my dog trained? NOW! There is not a real "snake season" in Southern California. With our mild temperatures, it is not uncommon to see snakes basking in the sun in January, late Winter and Early Spring. They are often active looking for food and potential mates. In the late Summer and early Fall, baby rattlesnakes are being born, and are then traveling to find a home of their own. All this happens near our homes, as they are drawn to rodents and water.
How long will the training take? The training process generally takes 10-15 minutes per dog, depending on the dog and the conditions of the training environment. A dog that is more sensitive to different environments or one with severe separation/ stranger anxiety, may take longer to get into a frame of mind where they are capable of engaging in their environment; therefore facilitating the learning process. EVERY dog is treated as an individual and will be given as much time as he/she needs to reach a comfortable state of mind!
How often do I need to have my dog trained? It is strongly recommend training be done once a year for three to four years in a row. Every dog is different. Most dogs retain a single experience for only about 8-18 months. Only a very small percentage of dogs will retain all aspects of the rattlesnake aversion for life, after just a single training. Most need a refresher to “remind them to remember” and build on their retention exponentially. It doesn’t hurt to train every year thereafter either but is often not crucial. Training is really only necessary once a year, but can be done twice a year to remain effective. In most cases, we don’t recommend a dog repeat training any sooner than 6 months as it can actually overdo it and cause some dogs to go into a state of learned helplessness.
My dog has a behavior issues, can he/she still be trained? Absolutely! In fact, one of the reasons I use Natural Solutions exclusively, is due to their excellent reputation, ability, and willingness to work with dogs that are shy, fearful, aggressive, unfocused, hyper-obedient, or that have separation anxiety. The Natural Solutions trainers have a special understanding of animal behavior. As mentioned above, EVERY dog is treated as an individual and will be given as much time as he/she needs to reach a comfortable state of mind!
What should I be aware of after training?
1. Other types of non-venomous snakes like gopher snakes, garter snakes and kingsnakes have a very different odor. Some dogs will generalize this training across all snakes ("A snake is a snake is a snake!) while many others may not worry about them, or they may even approach other types of snakes as they do have different odors.
2. A dead snake smells VERY different to a dog; when the blood-to-air barrier has been broken (meaning blood and other bodily fluids have been exposed) and/or decay has started to set in, it is emitting a very strong, very different and tempting odor to a carnivore. Most dogs are likely to go up to a dead rattlesnake or other snake after training.
3. When your dog has alerted you to a snake and/or is jumping back, or staying away from, or even if you aren't sure if he or she has seen it, PLAY IT UP BIG THAT YOU ARE "SCARED" OF THE SNAKE AND RETREAT AWAY FROM IT. Then PLEASE secure your dog before approaching the snake, catching/killing it or attempting to "shoo it away". Even though your dog has learned to successfully recognize and avoid rattlesnakes, a dog may still feel the need to protect its owner and its protective instincts may over power self-preservation.
4. Trying to test your dog by leading it up to or encouraging it to approach any type of snake or snake element can only weaken what they have learned. You, their most trusted leader, is now giving them permission and confidence to approach and check these things out.
5. Your dog has learned the sight, sound, and smell of rattlesnakes but please keep in mind that if they are running full-out through the brush, perhaps chasing a rabbit, and/or the wind is blowing in the wrong direction, there is still the potential that a dog may run into/over a rattlesnake before he/she has any opportunity to detect it.
Serving the following counties: Monterey, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Fresno, Ventura, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside, Kern, Orange, and San Diego.