Spring has hit the Valley of the Sun – flowers are blooming, birds are nesting and, unfortunately, the snakes are out. When the snakes come out of hibernation they are very thirsty and hungry. Once those needs are satisfied, their minds turn to mating. The single-minded snakes go looking for love and sometimes end up in all the wrong places. I have seen them crawl under and into golf carts while the unsuspecting players are on the green. Like humans, they seem to loose a lot of their natural inhibitions and common sense when love is in the air!
Now that snake season is back, please watch your pets closely. Keep them away from rock piles, washes and other “snakey” places. Check your yard before allowing your pet to explore on their own. If you live in a more natural area like I do, consider adding several feet of hardware cloth or fine screen to an existing fence. Don’t forget to address the gates and drainage holes in the fence too.
Snake avoidance training is another option for protecting your dog. For those of you who might be unfamiliar with this, a shock collar is used to teach the dog to avoid snakes. Rattlesnakes, especially the Western Diamondback who is the most common rattlesnake in our area, have a strong musky smell. When the dog smells the snake and approaches its cage, the handler delivers a small shock. If the dog retreats, the shocks are over. If the dog still advances, the intensity of the shock is increased.
Please consider your dog’s temperament carefully before subjecting your pet to snake avoidance training! It is not good for every dog. In my experience, timid dogs do not do well with this type of training. They feel the shock and freak-out without associating it with the snake. Also, make sure you work with a reputable trainer who knows what they are doing. Check multiple references and observe them in action before allowing them to handle your dog. The extra time and effort is well worth it.