- Where the safety of your dog comes first
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  • So how does snake proofing work.

  • What exactly happens?

  • How does the dog learn

  • Can I handle my own dog

Firstly some background:

Snake proofing, also known as avoidance training, is based on the principle:

  • Introduce the dog to something
  • Wait for him to have recognition
  • Introduce a stimuli
  • Which creates a negative association

If all goes according to plan, then the next time the dog encounters this "something"
he or she will recall the association and avoid the contact.

Sounds simple?

Well yes and no.

If your dog is focused, and if your dog is not nervous, insecure, dreaming, running around, etc, then they could "miss" the association, and the deal is off.

Or is your dog is not using his nose at the instant it crosses the scent cone,
then he has no idea what you are stimulating him for.

Or if the handler is distracting the dog, or assisting the dog, or petting the dog,
then he has no idea what he is receiving the stimuli's for.

So there are multiple reasons a dog could fail.

When I say, training should be left to professionals with years of experience, there is a valid reason.

IF you train the incorrect association, then someone has to fix it.

Or if you interfere with your dog during training, then he has no idea how to behave when you are not around.

There are trainers that require (allow) the owners to handle their dogs.

This is not advisable, for four reasons:

  • You may unintentionally cue the dog as to the proximity of the snake.
  • You may have personal issues with snakes, which your dog will sense, and which will dilute the effectiveness of the association.
  • And you may also get your dog or yourself injured if your dog suddenly bolts and runs.
  • Finally, your dog may have a sense of trust in you, which is false, as you cannot protect them from a snake bite.

So lets look at how this works:

First, a trainer will ask you some questions:

  1. How old is your dog?
  2. Does your dog have any medical issues?
  3. Have they ever been on an electronic collar before?
  4. Have they been snake proofed before and by whom?

These all play a part in the training.

When your dog is being trained, age plays a part, as the ability of a puppy to achieve recognition differs from an adult.

Likewise, if there are medical issues such as leg injuries, seizures, hip or back problems, etc, we need to know.

If they have been on an electronic collar before, we need to know where, what kind and what the purpose was.

And lastly, if they were snakeproofed before, then this is important, as we may adjust the training to make it an evaluation session, in which we test the dogs response. This test will then determine how we approach their training. (There is no additional cost for this test)

IF the dog passes the test, there is no need to reintroduce the training routine.

If the dog fails the test, then we want to know why, and will then approach the training in a way that achieves better results.

What happens then?

The trainer will place a custom made slip collar on your dog, and then an electronic collar.

We only use professional TriTronics equipment, not the consumer grade you buy at a pet store.

These collars are tough and work EVERY time, unlike the consumer grade collars.

The dog is then led along a specially built path that screens other distractions, and then up to the first snake area.

We generally have a number of snakes in this area to create a concentrated scent in this area.

As soon as the dog identifies the scent, he receives a gentle"nick" from the collar.

The dog is then led away, so that they learn flight response.

Does the training hurt the dog?

The collar does not hurt, rather it gives the dog a fright.

In more than 10,000 dogs trained this way, no dog has ever been hurt by the e-collar.

It is safer than ANY other effective technique.

What then?

The procedure is repeated a number of times so that scent and sound are introduced to the dog.

IN addition we try and teach them to leave the area, through a principle called "flight".

Some learn this, some don't.


The dog is tested in another area where we hide additional snakes.

This may also include a desert trail we have constructed specifically to snake proof dogs that hike in the desert.


I am sure you still have some.

Many times we adjust training to specific circumstances,

We have trained more dogs than any other school and this experience has taught us to evaluate and adapt training on a case by case basis.

But if you have any questions, feel free to ask.
 - Where the safety of your dog comes first
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Images and Text are the property of Leighton Oosthuisen. All Rights Reserved 2009.