Methow Valley Veterinary Hospital hosts an rattlesnake aversion clinic run by Natural Solutions, an experienced training company based out of California. Check out their process:
Sight. Introduce your dog to a small, live, muzzled, juvenile rattlesnake, native to the area. This allows your dog to make the proper association of the danger involved with the rattlesnakes in a non-threatening or intimidating introduction to the process. This facilitates more curiosity and less initial concern of the "new" animal in their environment, putting your dog in a better psychological state for learning during the training process. Using a low-level electronic correction collar we are able to convince your dog that these animals are uncomfortable to be near, therefore beginning the aversion process.
Smell. The next step further focuses on the scent of the local rattlesnakes. Using a fresh shed skin of a local species of rattlesnake, we will help your dog identify scent-based aspects of rattlesnakes apart from seeing the animal in the environment. The same process used to teach your dog about the danger associated as with the juvenile rattlesnake will again be used with the shed skin.
Sound. We then introduce your dog to the sound of the rattlesnake's warning rattle, again, independent of seeing the rattlesnake. A live, muzzled rattlesnake is kept in a natural looking blind. Your dog will not be able to see the snake, but the snake will be able to identify your dog and alert with its warning rattle. When your dog exhibits interest in the sound, a low-level electronic correction will be given. This convinces your dog that the sound itself can cause discomfort, teaching your dog to make a safe retreat without having to identify the rattlesnake with any of his/her other senses.
Put It All Together. During the final test, your dog will be introduced to an adult rattlesnake that has been safely muzzled. It is during this step your dog can use all three senses to fully recognize and identify the rattlesnake! The rattlesnake will be placed in as natural a setting as possible and encouraged to behave "naturally." During this part of the process our trainers will try to lead the dog towards the adult rattlesnake. When your dog identifies and recognizes the danger associated with the rattlesnake and avoids it accordingly, he/she has passed the training. If your dog at this point is distracted or otherwise neglects to identify the rattlesnake another learning opportunity will be taken advantage of and a low level electronic correction will be applied as needed.
There is no inhumane treatment of dogs or snakes throughout this process!!
From out of town? The Virginian Resort (509-996-2535) is a pet friendly riverfront accommodation adjoining the Methow Valley Veterinary Hospital.