May 20, 2009 at 2:25 pm #1236448
I just wanted to share this experience with you dog owning backpackers:
We, Loki and I, hike and overnight through the hills of So Cal, the Central Coast, Sierras (where we can), Nor Cal, pretty well anywhere allowed (or ignored). She's does great off-leash and is responsive to commands, but with the onset of Summer rattlesnake danger is higher than ever, so I decided to followup where I could to hedge our bet on the trail.
Patrick Callaghan comes up often as the authority for rattlesnake avoidance classes, been doing it for 20 years. Well, we got on a class this last Sunday up in Sonoma… what a freakin' traumatic experience. But, probably, a necessary evil considering the alternative waiting in the bush.
He sets up three scenarios with three live, de-fanged rattlesnakes and uses a shock collar on the dog. All the snakes are under buckets to calm them between sessions. The first had its rattle sheathed while the dog is slowly introduced to the snake's smell and tame, coiled posture and as she gets closer.. WHAM goes the shock collar. Loki leaped into the air and screamed and went ape shiet in ways I've never seen or imagined from my dog. After calming her (not an easy task) and me (not easily done either), she's introduced to the next snake, with its rattle fully exposed while rearing back in an upright strike position. Let me say, I've never seen a rattlesnake like this firsthand. This was an Indiana Jones rattle snake. A, "there's a rattlesnake blocking the trail, roll initiative", rattlesnake. My hair was on end from 25' away. So, the dog handler (now two handlers with two leashes) eases her toward the snake while Patrick uses a wand to bring the snake toward her. And, as she begins to sniff and closely approach, the snake strikes without connecting and she gets.. WHAM, another shock. OK, if I haven't mentioned this yet, I'm rigid and bringing on a severe headache. The shock collar torture is.. torturous.
Well, finally, Loki and I are positioned at opposite ends of the yard with a rattlesnake between us. She's expected to come to me and avoid the snake in the process. Through all the pain and fear, BIG fear, she catches my command and, with her eyes locked on the snake, she cautiously circumnavigates its position to get to me and to get the hell out of there. From what I'm told, and observed, that was the sign of success. 15 minutes, two shocks, three snakes. Rinse and repeat once a year.
All I can say is, Holy hell that was rough. But, I think ultimately, it's going to help us both, cause she's definitely got puppy curiosity and hunting blood and we're regularly in the thick of it.
And here's pictures of my girl for anyone interested:
May 20, 2009 at 6:07 pm #1502574
@iwillchopyouhotmail-comLocale: Lake Tahoe
This is very interesting. I've always been intrigued with shock collars, but like you I have always been wary of electricuting my dog.
I wonder if their are similar ways to do this with coyotes. My dog is a giant wimp, but she gets real tough whenever she see a coyote. Just this morning there were 3 in my backyard, and if I didn't already have her leashed (nursing an injury on her hind leg) she would have tore off after them and maybe become a tasty morsel.
Can you think of any way to teach avoidance with coyotes without a shock collar? She seems to ignore me when coyotes are around–like she's in the zone or something. She's real timid as she's a rescue dog, so I try to use positive reinforcement training with her to boost her confidence. I'm afraid that scaring the holy hell out of her might be detrimental to her progress thus far.May 20, 2009 at 7:03 pm #1502597
I'm not a dog owner, but had a chance to witness some training done by a horsepacking guide whose dog ran with us (unleashed) all day as we rode. We stopped at a rocky overlook in Northern PA and there were two rattlers sunning themselves on some of the rocks.
The guide grabbed Tucker's collar and walked him towards the snakes. When he was certain that the snakes had the dog's attention he simply said "No" several times while pointing to the snakes.
I remember being astounded with the process. It seemed too simple. He said he grew up there and has always had dogs and that this method always worked for him. He's in a profession that sees rattlesnakes several times a week either accidentally or intentionally (for the paying clients). His dog, Tucker, was certainly one of the best behaved dogs I've ever met and this was how he trained him.
He did say that he would repeat this process at least once more that summer (it was Tucker's first season) and then once again the following year.
Ugh…I hate snakes!May 20, 2009 at 7:54 pm #1502608
@jbaile38Locale: Rocky Mountains
My dog is regularly hiking with me in rattlesnake country. She is a hunter so I've had the vet administer rattlesnake toxin vaccine, which is shown to work very well. Link follows.
JustinMay 20, 2009 at 8:43 pm #1502623
We have used shock collars on our dogs for boundary training. Before we decided to use collars I got one and zapped myself on a bare leg. It wasn't fun but it didn't leave burn marks or any lasting effects.
Most shock collars can be tuned. Some dogs need a firmer 'hand' than others. Some dogs, when surprised – out of the blue – will yep. (I don't blame them.) So maybe some solid pain delivered, in a surprising fashion.
I'm not in any way trying to minimize your, or Loki's, experience. Just sharing a few observations. All in all, it sounds like great training, even if it was hard on both of you.May 20, 2009 at 10:23 pm #1502647
All the guys I know with quail dogs have them de-snaked (or whatever you call it), and they do the de-fanged snake / shock collar trick. Cheap, fast, and effective. I wanted to try it on the children, but the wife said no.May 21, 2009 at 9:16 am #1502739
@ngatelLocale: Southern California
"I wanted to try it on the children, but the wife said no."
LOL.May 21, 2009 at 11:32 am #1502768
LOL. I've said something similar since the event.
Greg, I noticed your mention of shock collar training to reign in the dogs off-leash. And I'd wondered about the range of settings. I don't know if Loki was being issues a firmer hand with the shock settings, I mean, maybe it was just surprise but it seemed like a dramatic reaction, though perhaps not entirely out of pain. Patrick's wife was by my side the whole time and she spoke of muscle reactions induced by the shock.
It was just traumatic, but I do ultimately recommend the training. Although I am curious about the horseback rider's methods. I think I really just wanted to get some quick, effective training for a dog that I've only had since Feb this year, still has puppy qualities and definite prey instincts.
…oh, and I did do the vaccine; kinda new with controversial results, but the general consensus is that it buys more time.
I think I'm suffering from new papa syndrome.
-michaelMay 21, 2009 at 12:03 pm #1502778
@melixLocale: Bay Area
Thank you SO much for sharing this – I have taken my dogs backpacking for years and am always nervous – the one time I've gone fastpacking I was trotting midway down the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne when I almost stepped on one – I actually don't have a clue what to do if I am bitten (slice it open and suck out the venom seems a bit outdated….). I've yet to see anyone mention a bite kit on their gear list – what do you do?? Anyone?
Also, I've been reluctant to take my dogs fastpacking b/c of the weight of the food, even if they carry most of it – have you found any doggie UL solutions?
MelMay 21, 2009 at 2:47 pm #1502838
I'm new to backpacking with a dog but check this out, dehydrated raw food. Definitely as close as you'll get to UL, shy of having them hunt their own grub.
You can buy something similar in pet stores, called Stella & Chewy's. They're a raw food purveyor that makes frozen and dehydrated patties, and I just feed it without rehydrating. It's more expensive than the Embark but I haven't placed an order for that yet.
Try doing a search in the forum for snake bite advice.
-MichaelMay 23, 2009 at 8:22 pm #1503181
@kentLocale: High Sierra
I have had a dog and used an elec. collar for many years. You will find that normal, professional trainers use an adjustable transmitter and will set it to vibrate or the lowest possible stimulation setting. This is the best method for training.
You & Loki, however, can't afford the mistakes that are inevitably a part of normal training. The first mistake with a snake would probably be her only one. As such, your trainer used a very high setting to purposely make the experience traumatic enough that she'll NEVER forget it.
It's tough to watch/take, but but far superior and, ultimately, less traumatic than the alternative – watching your dog die in your arms from a snake bite.
You did the right thing for her in getting her trained.
Happy Trails for both of you! :-)May 26, 2009 at 12:25 pm #1503658
I have trained dogs professionally for a few years in everything from beginning OB to agilitiy and protection work. I will tell you that I have used electricty to train my dog but and it can be very effective. It can also be very traumatic.
Someone a few posts up said it was uncomfortable but didn't leave any lasting effects. This may also be true if done correctly on dogs but converslly, with bad timing or innappropriate force it can leave long lasting and severe pschological trauma. I think most people would be surprised how much damage one missapplied punishment can do.
That said a well timed and well used remote collar can be a god send in the right hands with an already trained dog.May 26, 2009 at 3:34 pm #1503717
@owareLocale: Steptoe Butte
What he said. My emphasis.
"That said a well timed and well used remote collar can be a god send in the right hands with an ALREADY TRAINED dog."
I posted on another thread on e collars.May 26, 2009 at 6:26 pm #1503754
I live in rattlesnake country. The first year I was here, I saw over twenty within a 100' radius of my house (not all at the same time). Because of this, All of our dogs have had snake avoidance training and have it renewed annually. One of our near neighbors had his dog bitten by a western diamondback. The vet bill ran over $3000. Because of the potential expense and because of the dog's potential pain and suffering after a bite, I really recommend the procedure. But, be sure the people doing the training have experience.Jul 24, 2009 at 1:45 pm #1516273
Can anyone reccomend a trainer in WA state? Preferably on the Seattle side?
We do some trips in to Eastern WA and have come across a few rattlers. I didn't know there was a class… Very cool!Jul 25, 2009 at 12:37 am #1516381
@socalpackerLocale: Southern California
I've seen it advertised on the sides of some dog trainer's SUVs, but I'd prefer a referral. Do you know of anyone in the Los Angeles area who is reputable that I could call?
Thank youJul 25, 2009 at 12:52 am #1516383
@socalpackerLocale: Southern California
Thanks for the posting. Nevermind the referral. I just checked his website and he's going to be in Calabasas at the very end of August. He's also not that expensive!
PS I've got 2 very curious labs. :-)Jul 25, 2009 at 8:53 pm #1516547
steve irwin would not approve of 'defanging' rattlers as described in the initial post
the best way to keep your dogs from being bitten is to keep them on a leash, like you're supposed to do as responsible pet owners anywayJul 25, 2009 at 11:20 pm #1516564
A, "there's a rattlesnake blocking the trail, roll initiative", rattlesnake.
LOL. I think this comment probably went over the head of anyone who's never played Dungeons and Dragons… but it gave me a laugh. =-)Jul 26, 2009 at 8:06 am #1516581
Josh, I suspect that you don't have a dog or you don't live in rattlesnake country or both. A leashed dog that is curious about a rattlesnake is probably going to get bitten. Conditioning can prevent this. If a person lives where they can let their dog run loose on their fenced property in snake country, the dog should be conditioned; otherwise it is likely to be bitten. I would hardly consider an entertainer such as the late Steve Irwin to be an authority on snake aversion training for dogs. You should confine your commentary to subjects about which you know something.Jul 26, 2009 at 2:55 pm #1516649
i'm pretty much in the heart of rattlesnake country located halfway between duncannon and port clinton along the AT. my gf is a vet and i take her beagle for quite a few # of hikes. i'm pretty sure i'm qualified to speak on the subject
steve irwin was far from a simple 'entertainer'. his global work towards conservation was rivalled by none. defanging snakes is done in 3rd world countries by snake charmers. the snakes will likely die prematurely and never be able to hunt again. at the very least it is painful for the snakes and isn't acceptable in my eyes. let alone to help owners 'train' their dogs to stay away from snakes.
again. good, responsible owners keep their dogs on leashes. a habit practiced by few on the trail, unfortunatelyJul 27, 2009 at 1:14 pm #1516839
You know, Josh, you make a good point about the de-fanging, it is controversial. But, honestly, your approach is so ill-mannered and, frankly, rude, that your good points are obscured. What was your subject line? Oh, yeah "DUMB". Nice. And I notice a pattern of that in your posting history.
So, I'm not really going to argue your dubious qualifications or your free-speculation and opinion. Seems the thread was informative and useful as it was. Like I said, though, I did look into the de-fanging. Thanks.
Kendall, curious about your experience, let us know how that goes. I assume it's Patrick you are meeting.
ps, glad someone caught the d&d reference… I thought it was damned funny.Jul 27, 2009 at 5:14 pm #1516882
I was walking on the Dusty Lake trail with my dog on a leash and right along the trail I heard a rattler in the shrub. The rattler only rattled when my heeling dog passed within about foot of it.
He was curious and wanted to see what it was… I was able to pull him away and keep moving.
Had I not shortened his leash to about 1.5 feet while walking with him and let him out on a bit more he'd probably would have stuck his nose in that bush.
Let's be honest here I don't care about the snakes as much as I care about my dog. If a few of them have to be defanged BFD. I'm sure 1000s of more die to be turned in to boots and knife holsters.Jul 29, 2009 at 7:23 pm #1517485
glad you could see by my 'rudeness' to get to what really matters. the other example you probably refer to is my little arguement w/ someone about dog hypothermia. i only chose the word 'dumb' b/c that's what i thought of this idea.
dumb: from the online free dictionary. adjective #6 conspicuously unintelligent
defanging a snake and teaching your dog to 'heel' when off a leash (which is irresponsible for a dozen different reasons) fits the definition of that word for me. please remember dog owners, while some people may like your dog, others may not, regardless of how well behaved it is.
thanks for allowing me my opinionJul 30, 2009 at 6:30 am #1517554
You are certainly entitled to your own opinion, you are not entitled to your own facts. It is perfectly responsible to allow a dog off leash in ones own fenced yard. If there is the potential for snakes to come into your yard, as it is around here, then it makes perfect sense to have your dog trained to avoid snakes. To me, a $2000-$4000 vet bill for anti venom treatments is not an intelligent option to a $50 class; even one that may be hard on snakes.
Incidentally, around here, they do not use defanged snakes for aversion training, at least the trainers I use don't.
Just because people hold opinions different from yours does not mean that they are dumb. Try being a little less confrontational in the future; we'll all benefit. And, if only a few "really" understand your posts, you might want to look at the writer rather than the reader as being the problem.
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