Just Kidding!  But we have seen our first snake of the season.  I was walking toward the barn and am glad that I looked down to see a four-foot gopher snake.  Yikes!  Seizing the opportunity to train the dogs about snakes, Decker was about to get his first lesson.

I caught the big snake, and called the dogs over to me.  Kate learned the lesson long ago, and would come near me as I held the snake.  Tam took one look and backed off.  Just the response that I am looking for.  

Last year, Tam came running toward the snake.  "Oh, what is that great thing that you have, is it a rope to play with?"  Tam's training last year was crucial for her mere survival.

Having Rattlesnakes around the area and having my old dog, Bonnie, almost bitten from one, while she lay in the cool garage, I was not wanting a repeat of history.  

Decker apparently had never had a snake lesson.  So, there I was, training another dog to keep their distance and respect snakes.  In order to accomplish this, Decker needed to smell the snake.  So as I held it, he came over to investigate it and give it a big smell.  After the brief smelling session, I scared him away from the snake, trying to leave a large impression on him, that he is to stay away from this smell.  So he was yelled at, and chased, among other words, to ensure that he got the message to leave them alone.

A much more effective training method would have been to have a Rattle snake rattle with me and also have him associate the rattle noise with the smell, sight, and me chasing and yelling at him.  But these scenarios are very hard to set up.  First of all, one has to have a caged snake.  I no longer catch snakes and make them pets, as I did when I was a child.  I don't have that desire.   Keeping a snake rattle is usually not in my attire also.  So preparation has to be made in order to have a more effective lesson.

Occasionally snake classes are held in our area to "teach" dogs to keep clear of snakes.  Most of the snake fear classes use different techniques for establishing this "snake fear"; from cages of snakes, to rattle cans, to shock collars.  All of which have a degree of effectiveness.  But unfortunately, not all dogs learn the same way and have different motivators.

So my suggestion to teaching snake fear in dogs is see what works, and then if possible test it, to make sure.  Better safe than sorry.  For Decker, I don't know yet if he learned the lesson.  I hope that I can catch another snake and "proof" him, to see.


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