Snake Proof Your Pooch

Not long ago I came across an alarming and tragic statistic. Each year rattlesnakes bite over 15,000 dogs in the United States. Many die, others fall terribly ill from the poison. If you are lucky enough to care for a pooch who survives, it can cost you anywhere between $1,500 and $10,000 dollars to restore them to full health. Anyway you look at it that is one awful bite.

How might we better protect our dogs and ourselves? One way is to be extremely vigilant regarding the back yard and park spaces where we let our pets play. The more open the areas, the better.  Look for well-landscaped spaces where you can see clearly what you four-legged friend is up to in their explorations. Blind patches of deep grass and canyon brush are understandably dangerous. Rattlesnakes are shy creatures and they are not intimidated by the spread of homes into the high hills. They hunt for mice and other small creatures, and can slip deep into our neighborhoods when we’re not looking.

The best protection is to make a partner of your pet in this effort and train them to avoid rattlesnakes. Such training is readily available here in southern California through an organization called “High On Kennels.”

The method is simple and effective. A “neutralized” snake – alive, but surgically deprived of its venom – is placed in a field with your dog. The dogs will wear an electronic collar and be subject to warning prompts as it investigates the creature and becomes familiar with its distinctive sight, sound, and particularly its odor. (Rattlers have a scent, which for dogs, particularly sets it apart from any other snake.) An hour of training works wonders, though it is advised you repeat this training every year, the better to keep your beloved pet on his or her toes.

The cost for such a session is on average $70 dollars, and worth it.

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