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Training Dogs To Avoid Rattlesnakes

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SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Cody Will’s idol may be the reason his coworker isn’t what you would expect.

“Steve Irwin was my hero growing up,” Will said. “This is Zeva.”

Zeva’s a Northern Pacific rattlesnake.

“I have never been bit and i don’t plan on it,” Will said.

This muzzled reptile is his training tool to keeping dogs safe this summer.

“Dogs have no clue rattlesnakes are dangerous. They see [the snakes] moving around and just assume it’s a toy or friend,” Will said.

In a controlled environment, the trainer leaves the snake slithering in the open, with Emma the Boxer wearing a low intensity shock collar.

“The shock is taking the place of the bite and so the dog is associating the pain with the snake and realizing it’s something not to mess with,” Will said.

Within seconds, Emma inches towards the snake and quickly moves away when Will gives her a little shock.

“I was impressed at how quick it worked,” said Wesley Henderson, Emma’s owner.

Will also trains dogs to know the snake’s smell and sound.

This summer, especially in the drought, Will says snakes will be lurking near water.

“Anyone living near ponds or rivers, there’s a pretty good chance they’re going to encounter more this year,” Will said.

As for Emma’s owner, the training gives him peace of mind.

“I’m not worried about her seeing a snake and going up to it,” Henderson said.

What to look for if your dog is bitten by a rattlesnake is facial swelling, fang marks – and if your dog is whimpering, experts say you need to go to the vet immediately because every second counts.

For more information on snake aversion training, head to Will’s Skillz Professional Services website.

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