Reno-Based Company Teaches Dogs to Avoid Rattlesnakes

ELK GROVE -- When most people hear the rattle of a rattlesnake, they know what comes next.

Dogs, on the other hand, typically don't have the same reaction.

"The rattlesnake is kind of the perfect dog toy," John Potash, of Get Rattled avoidance training, told FOX40. "They look interesting because of the way they move, they sound super interesting because of their rattle, they smell really good to them. So dogs, if they catch any one of those, are going to want to investigate."

Teaching dogs to not do that is the focus behind rattlesnake avoidance training. Potash's Reno-based company is one of several that travel and offer the service.

"Ultimately what we’re doing is we're exposing the dog to different aspects of the rattlesnake," Potash said.

The training uses small, electrical shocks as dogs approach a snake with large rattles but no venom.

"Essentially, the goal is to scare the dogs," Potash said.

The dogs then move to a secure box with a venomous snake and snake skins inside to train for smell, and a pipe with skins inside to warn dogs away from investigating rattlesnake scents.

The goal by the end is having the dogs not want to go anywhere near the traces of a snake.

The training and Get Rattled company are a favorite of Dr. Mike Saksen with VCA Bradshaw in Elk Grove. He says he's seen over 400 snake bites in his decade long career.

"Even with aggressive treatment, it is life-threatening," Saksen said.

He says rattlesnakes bites require anti-venom and typically hospital stays, so treatment bills cost pet owners thousands of dollars. Aversion training costs about $85.

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