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How to teach your dog to stay away from rattlesnakes

Posted at 9:57 PM, Jun 11, 2023

PARK CITY, Utah — Having your dog accompany you during outdoor activities is one of the best parts of summer.

Yana Salwan and her three-year-old furry best friend, Tyson, agree. Salwan is originally from Ohio but comes to Park City each summer.

READ: 6-year-old boy dies from rattlesnake bite

"I just want to be able to enjoy the summers and outdoor activities without anything else happening," Salwan said.

So, when Tyson was just a puppy, Salwan enrolled him in Get Rattled's rattlesnake training program at Active K9.

"This is our third year," Salwan said. "I just do it because it's important we spend a lot of time outside and hiking the trails and I just want him to be safe."

Samantha Bednar, owner of Active K9, says the rattlesnake avoidance workshop is hosted annually to help teach dogs to stay clear of the venomous snakes.

READ: What to do if you encounter a rattlesnake in Utah

"They're coming out and learning both sight, scent, sound of the snake and to stay away from all three of those," Bednar said.

Through a series of exercises, Bednar and other professional handlers expose dogs to a real rattlesnake.

"The last little session we do on this exercise is to make sure they're not going to go over the snake to get to their owner, but around, so it's pure avoidance, stay away from that thing," Bednar said.

Bednar says the key to a successful rattlesnake training is catching a dog's curiosity moment.

"If we can catch them here with this being the first time, they get to see it and get the lesson ‘nope don't touch it,’ it's so much better than them running into it on the trail," Bednar said.

For dog-owners like Salwan, the sense of comfort they get from the yearly training is everything.

"I'm scared of snakes, they just disgust me and the fact that he can just ignore them, keeps going and he doesn't get freaked out, he doesn't get freaked out by me," Salwan said. "I think it's important as a responsible dog owner that individuals take the training just for their peace of mind."

If you are interested in rattlesnake training for your dog, Get Rattled travels to multiple locations from Nevada to Utah all the way up to Oregon. There are also several other places that do rattlesnake training for dogs across the Wasatch Front.