Rattlesnake Avoidance Training
Early in the year, Debby Forry had contacted me about possibly putting on a Rattlesnake Avoidance Training program at our National Specialty that was going to be held in Loveland, Colorado in June. Logistically I knew it would be possible for me & the Get Rattled Team to be there since the following weekend we were going to be putting on my businesses' annual training in Lyons, Colorado just forty five minutes down the road. All that was needed was to iron out the details.
My business - Stone Canyon Kennels - and Get Rattled have been doing this for five years now and I have been very impressed with their professionalism, handling of the dogs and owners, and yes - care of the rattlesnakes. I have always been one that did not care for snakes. I work with dogs professionally in an area where rattlesnakes are common, so it is a battle of constant vigilance to keep Sir Winston and my customer's canines safe. Before I met John Potash, owner of Get Rattled I never really thought much about them except to avoid them at all costs and admittedly I would kill them when I found them in the dog park or on my property.
John owns and cares for many rattlesnakes and other reptiles, and is one of the truest animal lovers I've ever met. He has taught me so much about them (they give live birth, not eggs!) and shared his knowledge of many different animals and reptiles as well! Although I would stop short of saying that I'm now a rattlesnake lover, John has shown me the need for education and respect of them, especially the ones that he has domesticated and are being used to help train and keep our dogs safe. What a contrast to some of the other training I've attended that were put on by others. The rattlesnakes have their fangs ripped or cut out and they are fortunate to survive the day. They are treated as a tool and discarded at the end of the training.
So with that background we set forth to provide a unique and innovative Rattlesnake Avoidance Training program at this year's National. I was hopeful that five or maybe even ten or so dogs would sign up... when the Get Rattled team put on the Rattlesnake Seminar beforehand, it was well attended and very informative. Many rattlesnake myths were put to bed by John & Natalie! We thank them for putting on the classroom component of the training as well! Afterwards we ended up putting 18 dogs through our training in Loveland and had wonderful reactions from the dogs - and also from the owners of the dogs!
Our course consisted of three stations:
Station One was Houdini, the live, venomoid rattlesnake out in the ground. We used this station to obtain indications on the sight, scent and/or sound of a rattlesnake.
Station Two was the scent tube, a 4ft section of pipe loaded with fresh, shed snake skins with a positive pressure fan on one end and a 90° elbow on the other, disguised to simulate a hole with a nice bouquet of scent erupting from it. We sought scent only indications on this station.
Station Three was Broom Hilda, a Prairie Rattlesnake that was captured on my property. She was in a double-wired cage that would not allow contact but would allow scent signatures. We use her as an intact rattlesnake just in case there's a different smell to the snakes that have/have not been through the ductectomy surgical procedure. Not only scent, but we also can indicate off of the sound of a muted rattle (hers were wetted to drastically reduce the sound of the rattling, as not all rattlesnakes in the wild are aggressive or definitive with their rattling).
Stations 4 & 5 were just "dummy stations", a bush or the base of a tree that we could lead the dog to and allow them to sniff around without any corrections being made. Spinoni as we know are highly intelligent and cautious, so this step is used to put them at ease and also let them realize that stimulation doesn't happen everywhere we go.
On behalf of myself and the Get Rattled team, thank you to all that trusted us to put your dogs through this innovative but necessary training! We got a lot of very positive feedback and hope that you found the training informative and helpful. Get Rattled and I would be interested in putting on our Rattlesnake Avoidance Training program at other Sporting Dog Nationals, if anyone hears of an opportunity please forward the information to John Potash at Get Rattled [email protected]
Stone Canyon Kennels
1121 Stone Canyon Rd
Longmont, CO 80503-7319