According to the Animal Medical Center of Southern California, dogs are about 20 times more likely to be bitten by a rattlesnake than a human – and about 25 times more likely to die from a rattlesnake bite. What’s more is that rattlesnakes can be almost anywhere in California – in your yard, at the park, on the trail, etc. – and being that there are nine species of rattlesnakes in the state (Western Diamondback, Southern Pacific, Northern Pacific, Red Diamond, Mojave, Mojave Sidewinder, Southwestern Speckled, Panamint and Great Basin) training your dog to avoid these deadly creatures can potentially save on costly vet bills to treat bites – or even your animal’s life.

Here’s a look at some tips to help your animal avoid being bitten:

  • Keep your dog leashed: Being in control of your dog – particularly when you’re in overgrown, damp, rocky or wooded areas where rattlesnakes are more common – can go a long way toward preventing bites, as they are less prone to sniff bushes and other creatures when you have control of them.Southern Pacific Rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis helleri).
  • Aversion training: While keeping your animal on a leash helps, it’s not a 100 percent fix. One way to further prevent a rattlesnake encounter is to train your dog to avoid the sounds, sight and smell of the species of rattlesnakes common in your area. You can do this through rattlesnake aversion training, where live young and adult muzzled rattlers are brought in and the dog is taught – usually through correctional training – not to mess with them. It’s a safe and humane procedure, both for the dog and the rattlesnake, and training is usually monitored by animal trainers and naturalists to ensure the safety of all parties involved. Aversion training is also very effective. Dogs can usually pick up on the training in about a half hour. However, it is recommended that dogs re-train every year, for three to four years.
  • Snake-proof your yard: Rattlers can get underneath fences in many cases. But yards can be snake-proofed. You’ll need to dig a trench at the base of your fence and then purchase hardware cloth to attach to it – a chore that is both expensive and laborious – but it has proven effective in keeping yards snake-free.

Because of a dog’s curiosity, rattlesnakes are a serious threat. For more information on aversion training – and how to better avoid a potential bite – contact our office today.

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