Trainers teach dogs to avoid rattlesnakes on trails

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DENVER — As temperatures warm up, rattlesnakes will begin to come out and people hiking with their dogs should take heed.

Every year, dozens of dogs are taken to veterinarians after being bit.

There are classes that dogs can go through to teach them to avoid snakes. The classes teach dogs to avoid the sight, sound and smell of a rattlesnake.

The rattlesnake aversion training has dogs meet live snakes and get a mild shock if they try to approach to smell them.

Trainers say classes are about 90 minutes and one class usually is all it takes.

Rattlesnakes are the only venomous snake in the state and trainers say the reason dogs are at risk is because of their curiosity.

“Usually, they are not aggressive,” said Sammi Mann with Gentle Persuasions Dog Training. “Usually people are bit and dogs are bit because they mess with the snakes.

“So, unless it’s a really cold day, a snake is going to try and warn you off. Because they don’t want to waste energy injecting you with prey venom.”

Dogs leave the class knowing how to sense if a rattlesnake is nearby and to avoid it. Their reactions can warn owners to be on the lookout.

Aside from classes, trainers say to keep dogs on a leash while on trails. And teach dogs the “leave it” command, meaning to avoid something entirely, instead of dropping it.

“Avoid by see, sight and smell,” Mann said. “Even if they don’t see it, they hear that rattle, they know to avoid that area entirely.”

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