Today, Kora and I went to snake aversion training with Natural Solutions. They hold training sessions all throughout California. It cost $75 and took about 15 minutes. Personally, I think it was well worth it.
The trainers seemed very knowledgeable and were good with the dogs. The dogs go one at time through the snake circuit. The snakes are all muzzled so they can’t hurt the dog. There are 4 snake stations. The first is a baby rattlesnake. The handler has the dog on a long lead and gives correction, if needed – for as many times as needed until the dog stays away from the snake. The correction is not an electric shock that goes through the dog. It is more like a pinch to the neck. It is a “low-level electronic correction collar.” They have different levels depending on the reaction to the snake.
Kora needed three corrections at the first station. Kora went right up to the baby snake. The handler said she would have been bit. I have no doubt, which is why I was so motivated to take her. Kora is very inquisitive and sticks her nose everywhere. And, we go off-leash on the trails often. The handler said he had to give her correction level 4 before she responded. She then had no desire to go near the snake.
Station 2 had fresh shed skin for the scent. Kora needed one correction here and then wanted to get away from it. Station 3 was a noisy adult rattler in a rock. Kora needed no correction here and kept away from it. For the final test, they put an adult rattler in between me and Kora, a distance apart. As I call her to come to me, they want to see if she will go around the snake to get to me (versus going right over it). She does. She has no desire to go near it. Success!
I saw the effect with my own eyes and I know that without the training, Kora would have gone right up to a snake on first encounter. Now I believe that she will think twice. The handler said that Border Collie mixes typically learn pretty quickly. Kora went to the training with her boyfriend, Oscar. Oscar, a Cuvac, only needed a level 2 correction and picked it up very quickly. Now Christy (Oscar’s mom) and I can do our off-leash hikes with less worry!
The trainers recommend doing the training once a year for 3 to 4 years in a row. They say the memory lasts 8 months to 18 months. I plan to go again next year.