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Snake avoidance for dogs
Be mindful of where you walk your dog
Keep your dog away or under control near potential snake shelters and hang-outs. These can be rocks, logs, hollow trees, long grass, rabbit and wombat hollows, culverts and rubbish piles etc. Be extra cautious anywhere near waterways. If you take your dog for a swim, seek out areas of flat open ground that offer fewer hiding spots for snakes. Be aware, for example, that Tiger snakes prefer wet areas and enjoy eating frogs, while Brown snakes prefer drier environments and are attracted by mice and lizards.
Red-bellied Black snake
Walk in the morning
Walk your dog in the morning, rather than in the afternoon. Snakes need to warm up after a cold night, so are more sluggish in the early morning. Stay alert, regardless! All snakes will react if stepped or confronted, no matter the time of day.
Walk your dog on pathways or roads or in mown or grazed paddocks during the warmer months when snakes are active.Make sure you have a good view of the ground ahead. As an added bonus this will help prevent problems with grass seeds in your dogs ears and coat.
Don't provide snake habitat near your home
Avoid providing shelter or food for snakes. Keep the areas surrounding your home clear and clutter free, this will discourage snakes from taking up residence.
Watch out around the chook yard
In the warmer months keep your dog close to you when you go to the chook yard or out-buildings. Snakes love chook yards and out-buildings on farms. Chickens, along with their chicken feed, attract rats and mice — tempting morsels for snakes. Feed your chooks just as much as they will eat in about 10 minutes and avoid having scraps lying around. This helps keep your mouse and rat populations under control.
Don't allow your dog to harass reptiles
Dogs frequently get bitten because they harass or attack snakes. Do not allow dogs to chase and harm lizards, skinks or turtles. One thing can lead to another!
Don't harm reptiles
If your dog sees you kill a snake, you will increase the chance that your dog will take on the next snake by themself, because dogs often learn from observation, just like many other animals.
Practice snake avoidance
Should you meet a snake with your dog, take your dog away as quickly as you can. You want him/her to learn that snakes are something to avoid. So, practice snake avoidance with your dog. Otherwise you might be up for an expensive trip to the vet, or worse!
If we move around our environment with care, understanding and respect, we can reduce the chances of an unpleasant confrontation with one of our scaly friends.
1. Caplin finds a snake
2. Nicola pretends to be very frightened
3. Nicola reassures Caplin
4. Caplin will no longer go near snakes
Heike Hahner is a dog trainer and a dog behaviour consultant. If you have any further queries about how to teach your dog to avoid snakes call:
Dog Training & Behaviour Consulting
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