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Aversion training helps dogs stay safe near rattlesnakes

NEW RIVER, Ariz. — When monsoons storms hit, the rain could force rattlesnake from their holes. That not only puts humans at risk, but also their dogs.

With that in mind, many Phoenix-area pet owners head to New River for a valuable lesson.

On Jim Walkington’s dirt driveway, five rattlesnakes slither in two cages.

“An untrained dog that hears that, it piques their curiosity,” said Walkington, owner of Viper Voidance. “They think, ‘a new dog toy, I’m going to go up there and sniff that.’ ”

But it’s no laughing matter. Rattlesnakes bite about 15,000 dogs and cats every year in the U.S.
Most of those are fatal. It’s why uses Walkington uses a shock collar to train dogs.

“When the dog comes up here and finds the snake, then they got shocked,” said Walkington.

Some might think it’s a harsh method, but it can save a dog’s life.

“That’s how they make the association that these things are dangerous and I don’t want to go up to them.”

Walkington’s trained over 100 breeds of dogs to avoid rattlesnakes. He said most of them learn after the first lesson to stay away.