Santa Paula Times

Dogs to be trained to avoid rattlesnakes

March 04, 2011
Santa Paula News

Rattlesnake Avoidance Training for Dogs, March 27th 8a.m.-7p.m., Arroyo Verde Park in Ventura, Ca.; $80 per dog; reservations required.  Space is limited; early registration strongly recommended. To register: Call Gina Gables at 523-3432.

A course on rattlesnake avoidance training for dogs - featuring live rattlesnakes that have been disabled from biting - will take place March 27th 2011 at Arroyo Verde Park in Ventura, Ca. The course will be led by Gina Gables, a professional dog trainer for more than 20 years, and Kent Beaman, who has more than 20 years of experience studying the behavior and ecology of rattlesnakes.

“Rattlesnakes in Southern California can be active any time of the year. Warm daytime temperatures may cause snakes to be surface active during the winter months and could present problems for dogs and their owners,” said Beaman, a research associate in herpetology at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and at Loma Linda University. He also teaches biology courses at Riverside Community College and Chaffey College, and recently served as editor of and contributor to the book “The Biology of Rattlesnakes.”

During the daylong training session, Beaman and Gables will use live rattlesnakes that have had their mouths banded shut to prevent them from biting.

“Our first priority is the comfort and safety of all involved.  This includes your dog and the snakes as well as the humans,” said Gables of Simi Valley. As the owner of Ma & Paw Kennel -Canine Training Services since 1991, she specializes in obedience training and problem-behavior modification with dogs.  Gina’s experience and sensitivity allows the dogs to be humanely treated during the training process.  Gina personally trains every dog to recognize and avoid the scent, sound and sight of rattlesnakes it becomes aware of.

On March 27th, the training will take place in a controlled environment, using a remote training collar system adjusted to each dogs’ individual temperament, personality and physical response characteristics, Gables said, explaining that the device “delivers an uncomfortable stimulation to the dog when the dog has been alerted to the presence of the snake, whether it be the smell or the sound or the sight. We do this so the dog will be able to avoid any of these clues to a rattlesnake’s presence individually even if the other clues aren’t present.”  For instance, “your dog may be downwind of the rattlesnake and can smell it but is not able to see it; and the snake - not being aware of the dog’s presence - may not be giving a warning rattle,” Gables explained. “The dog, by avoiding just the smell, would avoid the rattlesnake. If the owner is observant of the dog’s behavior, he or she can possibly prevent themselves or others from being bitten as well.”

Individual training sessions will be given to each pooch. We hope that by taking part in this training, the dog as well as the owner will be spared the pain and distress (as well as the expense) caused by the dog becoming a victim of a rattlesnake bite.