Rattlesnake Avoidance Training
through Positive Reinforcement
Look no further to help keep your dog safe from snakes!
Snake Avoidance without shock is not only possible, it is more effective.
Eileen Koval, CDBC, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA, MSc developed a unique program to help both trainers and dog owners use positive reinforcement techniques to teach their dogs to independently avoid rattlesnakes and to ignore any indications/temptations to move toward a rattlesnake. She wanted to develop a completely independent dog who could work in the outdoors away from the owner and know how to detect and avoid both visible and hidden venomous snakes.
Confident Canine's program is being utilized by trainers and dog owners in the US, Canada, Australia, Africa, and Europe. We want to help you develop an independent dog who knows how to detect a rattlesnake and knows to offer avoidance behaviors, whether you are present or not. It is simple enough to train our dogs to "leave it", but what if your dog encounters a rattlesnake when you are far behind them on a hiking trail, or while they are roaming your property? Eileen's training methodology guides you through techniques to train your dog respond to both your cues/commands, and to recognize the visual profile, scent, and sound of a rattlesnake as cues for them to offer trained avoidance behaviors. She teaches several avoidance behaviors that your dog can offer on his own in different varying situations in which he may encounter a rattlesnake. This course also teaches intelligent disobedience, in which we train our dogs to ignore any cues we give to move forward toward a snake that we do not realize is there. Our dogs detect the presence of snakes through olfaction (smell) long before we realize they are there. Dogs may ignore snakes in some situations and be interested in them in other situations, so this course will help you teach your dog exactly what you would like him to do in those scenarios.
The majority of rattlesnake avoidance classes use aversive pain-based methods such as shock collars to teach dogs to fear the snake. While this may work for some dogs, it does not work for others, and may seriously backfire.
Why is this?
The shock that the dog receives upon sight and scent of the snake teaches a dog to fear snakes, but it does not teach him which behaviors we want to see. Fearful situations induce fight/freeze/flight responses. With shock collars, people are *hoping* that the dog chooses a flight response, but it is not unusual to hear about dogs that attack rattlesnakes instead of avoiding them after such training. They want to make the scary thing go away, so they use aggression to try to make it go away! Also, when pairing a negative experience to a particular stimulus such as a rattlesnake, people want the dog to fear the snake. However, other stimuli are also present during such training, including the dog's leash, harness, the owner, other people and their dogs, etc. It is common for dogs to associate the owner, the leash, and other things present during the training with the shock that they felt. It is common to hear of dogs becoming very anxious around their owners or the presence of their leash after this type of training.
Why not teach the exact behaviors that we want the dog to perform?
The techniques utilized in this program are relationship-building and focused on obedience and reliability. They are fun for you and your dog, and help develop a dog who WANTS to work for you!
This course can be used to teach your dog to avoid copperheads, cobras, or a different type of venomous snake in your local area.
The three video modules total about 2 hours in lectures and demonstrations. This would normally be a six week class if done in person. This course is designed for trainers to be able to replicate the material as an in-person course in their area (please do not plagiarize but give express credit to Eileen Koval/Confident Canines LLC) and pet parents with basic training skills who want to keep their dogs safe.
Access to the course material/videos/demos is $55. If desired, you can supplement your training with Zoom training appointments with Eileen.
CCPDT: 2 (CPDT-KA)
Watch Eileen's recent interview with Bob Wells (from the movie Nomadland) from the two part series "Rattlesnake Dog Training with Confident Canines"
Watch the presentation from the International Dog Trainers' Winter Summit to learn more about Eileen's program and why positive reinforcement-based training (snake avoidance without shock) is the best way to obtain reliable avoidance behaviors from your dog around rattlesnakes.
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