Rio Grande Valley volunteers came out in full force in September to put on TDHA’s first snake avoidance training for bird dogs led by professional trainer, Julian Weslow. Julian has successfully trained over 8,000 dogs in the past 21 years. The training was held behind Frost Bank in McAllen and people brought their dogs from all over the valley. Fifty-three dogs were trained using diamond back rattlesnakes that had been milked and de-fanged.
De-snaking is a program that teaches dogs to recognize and avoid snakes. Because most dogs have a natural curiosity about snakes they need to be trained to avoid them. Whether in your backyard or on your hunting lease, dogs can encounter snakes. A venomous bite can kill or injure your dog for life and also result in large vet bills.
The clinic uses electric stimulation dog collars for the negative response in teaching the dog that the discomfort comes from the snake. The electric collar has been proven as a very safe method of training. The dog is run through three scenarios. The best response is to get the dog to use its natural senses and to know where the snake is, what the snake sounds like & what the snake smells like. If the dog responds to each of the scenarios by leaving the vicinity, no negative response will be given, but if the dog is still curious, he will receive a negative e-collar response. The course takes about 10 minutes to train your dog.
Many thanks to Rovin Jo and Gabe Espinoza of Mission Veterinary Hospital who worked tirelessly as dog handlers running the dogs through each step of training, to TDHA volunteers, Dr. David Heflin and wife, Laura, Roy Duncan, Jim Masterson, Josh Sheeran, Brent Mangum, Greg Grossman, Clayton and Michelle Martin and to the Ag Mag for contributing photos. More snake avoidance trainings will be scheduled around the state in 2016. Continue to check the calendar on the front page of texasdovehunters.com for dates and locations.