Out-of-state company visits to train dogs on staying clear of rattlesnakes

VALE, S.D. (KEVN) - "The majority of dogs that we work with are pretty curious about them. They see them moving or whatever, they think they're interesting so they want to go over there and put their nose on it and that's typically what's going to get them bitten," said J.J. Belcher, owner of Sublime K-9 Dog Training. He has has been traveling around the country for 16 years teaching dogs to stay clear of the buzz.

"Really it's more about trying to teach the dogs what a rattlesnake is, what they look like, smell like, sound like, so ideally if the dog encounters one in the future it'll stay away versus wanting to run over there and play with it," he continued.

In his rattlesnake avoidance training, Belcher tests the dog's ability to first recognize the snake in addition to sniffing out its scent. He then switches out rattlesnakes helping the dog realize it's not the environment that's the problem.

Sharon Kirkpatrick-Sanchez brought her two-year-old German Shepard "Fed" to the training who has already attacked and killed several garter snakes on her own property so for his own safety, this particular training was essential.

''If he'll do it to a garner stake I'm sure he'll do it to a rattlesnake and we do have rattlesnakes on our property so I thought it was necessary to get the training for his own safety," she said.

Kirkpatrick says she was happy about Fed's results and that Belcher's training is good for generalization.

"He brought two different snakes, and he put them in two different locations and he brought some snake sheds with him and placed that over there and had all the dogs approach just the shed skin to see if they've learned from the live snake to avoid the odor and he jumped back from the sack full of snake skin so apparently it worked.

Belcher says as an animal lover, is indeed about protecting the dogs, but also helping those rattlesnakes survive as well.

''I want to teach a dog to stay away from them so hopefully it'll keep the dog safe and um also help keep the owner safe as well but I also like to educate people a little bit about rattlesnakes too so that hopefully you know if you find one in your yard, you'll remove it re-locate it to a better environment versus uh killing it," he said.

If you have any questions about rattlesnake avoidance or would like to learn more, visit www.sublimek9.com or connect with them on social media.