So, it's most important that you keep yourself and your doggos away from snakes. But, you're just one person, and try as you might, you don't have the acute senses to stay aware of snakes at all times. Your dog though, with his or her amazing sense of smell and hearing, has the awareness to help sense snakes, and because of this, it's possible that they'll keep snakes away.
Additionally, snakes don't typically like to be around big things moving about and making noise - usually, they like to snack on things their own size or smaller. That being said, though, a snake won't necessarily always be afraid of your dog. Simply by sensing a snake, your pup can help you stay aware and keep away from snakes. How though? We've got the information you need here!
Signs Your Dog is Trying to Keep a Snake Away
If your dog senses a snake, they'll likely let their nose do the talking. Look at their snoots for twitching, excessive sniffing, and pointing in the air. This is the first sign they can detect something.
There are other signs, too, like paws up pointing, a stiff tail, and a nose in the direction of the scent. It's also possible your dog hears a snake in the distance, which they'll make obvious by moving their ears about and rotating them like antennae. If your dog is aiming to keep you and themselves away from snakes, they might howl, bark, whimper, or whine, as well as try to keep you from moving in a certain direction.
- Back hair on edge
- Tail tucking
- Paw raised
- Ears up
- Nose wrinkled
- Stiff tail
- Howling or barking
- Bouncing or jumping
- Growling or nipping
- Blocking your path
- Herding you or others away from an area
The History of Snake Sensing
Because dogs have such great hearing and sniffing abilities, they've been used throughout the years to sniff out bombs, guns, weapons, drugs, cancers, and other illnesses or diseases. But dogs have also been trained to help sniff out dangerous snakes, too. According to Time magazine, trainers at Auburn University have been teaching Labradors to sniff out and help hunt down Burmese Pythons in the Everglades in Florida.
Some breeds are exceptionally good at snake sniffing, like Beagles, Basset Hounds, Jack Russel Terriers, and Bloodhounds.
The Science Behind Dogs Sensing Snakes
Snakes have cloacal glands situated on their tails, and when they open these glands and vent them, they're able to manufacture a pretty smelly smell. This happens when snakes are bothered, threatened, or scared - all emotions they can feel from a dog's presence. Snakes will rub this scent off on their enemies or surrounding areas, giving your pup opportunity to sense snakes and keep you, and themselves, away from them.
Training Your Dog to Keep Snakes Away
For starters, train your dog to recognize the scent of snakes and to alert you to the smell. Try working with an expert to capture a snake, rub the snake scent on coffee filters or a similar object, and then teach your dog to sniff out that particular scent. Reward them with treats, love, affection, and a specific toy for playing.
Teach your dog to detect this smell, but not to approach it, a method called fringe training. Basic commands will be a lifesaver here - if you notice your dog headed toward a snake or getting too close for comfort, a simple "no," "drop it," or "stay" can work wonders for your pup's safety.
How to Keep Your Dog Safe from Snakes:
Teach your dog to fringe hunt snakes.
Keep your pup on-leash when you're near snakes.
Do not let your dog bite a snake - even if they're not dangerous, they could carry nasty diseases that are!
Learn about the poisonous snakes in your area and make an effort to keep your dog's away from them.