Frequently Asked Questions

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.

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.

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.

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.

What kind of rattlesnakes are in the Pacific Northwest?

The Northern Pacific Rattlesnake is the dominant species of rattler in Northern California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho and B.C. The coloring and markings will vary, but this is generally the only species you will encounter in our region. In the class I will cover the common habits of the snake to help you discern when you might be in snake habitat.

What does a snake bite look like?

Close up of rattlesnake bite on a dog
What you are looking at are two fang marks from a rattlesnake bite that occurred near Cashmere. You can see from the size, this was a big one. Fortunately, the dog lived, and then took my class to prevent future encounters.

What if my dog has just been bitten?

The main thing is to keep the dog as calm as possible and get to a veterinarian.

If you are out in the field, carry your dog back to your vehicle to avoid excessive blood circulation. Do not attempt to suck out the venom.

If it is a weekend, you may have to call around to find a vet that is open or on call. Many vet clinics on their recorded message will list emergency or after-hours contact numbers.
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