While hiking in the desert with her owner, little terrier Roxy is happily bounding down the trail when a movement in the rocks by the trail attracts her attention. Being the good little rat dog that she is, this intrepid terrier immediately lunges over to the rocks to investigate, her natural instinct being that of a hunting breed, bred to go after rodents and evens snakes! Fortunately,the rattlesnake hidden in the rocks is a reclusive animal, with a warning device, and as it coils and rattles its warning to stay away, Roxy’s owners notices and calls Roxy back. Also fortunately, Roxy is obedient and responds to her owner's recall, narrowly missing a deadly bite from a venomous snake with more than enough venom to kill little Roxy! If you live in an area with lots of rattlesnakes you will want to make your dog snake smart, and train your dog to stay away from the venomous rattlers. Even if you do not live in an area with rattlesnakes, teaching your dog off-leash, 'leave it' commands is useful in case you are ever in an area with venomous snakes, and leave it commands can be used to keep your dog away from other dangerous critters and hazards too.
If you enjoy hiking in areas where rattlesnakes can be present, teaching your dog to be aware of rattlesnakes and stay away from them can be a life-preserving skill. A dog can be injured and even killed by a rattlesnake bite. Teaching your dog off-leash recall and 'leave it' commands are useful for calling your dog away from a snake, but additional training to identify and stay away from the snake without input from the handler may be necessary if your dog is liable to encounter rattlesnakes without you present, such as may happen with rural dogs or if your dog ranges far ahead of you or in the bush while hiking.
Treats to reinforce commands to stay away from a snake will be required for training. A rattlesnake toy or model will be helpful in training your dog to stay away from rattlesnakes. Noisemakers that sound like rattlesnakes are also available to help train your dog to identify and avoid the sound of a rattler. Such noises can even be simulated on a smartphone.