Frequently Asked Questions
1. Why do you have to shock the dogs; doesn't that hurt them?
It better! I want to be certain that your dog knows that these snakes can kill them. If the dog only 'dislikes' the snake, it might still get within striking distance when you are out for a hike, and that is unacceptable.
2. I already train my dog with a shock collar; will this cause confusion?
Great question. The answer is no. In fact, we believe that the training collar is much more effective for this type of training (association with smell), than basic command training. Your dog has a huge portion of its brain dedicated to processing and analyzing smells. Connecting a sharp pain with the specific smell of a rattlesnake is easy for a dog's brain to do; and it will be remembered forever, because this is how a dog's brain is wired.
Using a training collar for basic commands or field training is a little harder, because it is reinforcing a cognitive process, such as I am supposed to lay down when my master says 'down'. This process occurs in another part of the dogs brain.
3. What about rattlesnake vaccine?
I believe the vaccine to be a positive thing; if your dog is bitten, it slows down the damaging affect of the venom in your dog. This buys you time to get to the vet. It doesn't cure the dog if it is bitten, and it doesn't prevent the bite.
4. After the training how do I know it worked?
At the end of class we 'proof' the dogs by having them approach the rattlesnake when there is no visual cue. In the photo below, the snake cannot be seen in the orange pile, but the dog has caught the scent. Your dog will stop or give you a visual cue that there is DANGER ahead and they don't want to go there. This dog has stopped and is about to put his ears flat back.