Jump to section
You live in an area where large and sometimes terrifying snakes can appear out of nowhere. You do the sensible thing and keep your distance, but your canine pal has an inquisitive streak in him. He’s developed a habit of going over and investigating. Now, this would be fine if snakes were always harmless, but unfortunately, where you live they aren’t. If he isn’t on the receiving end of a nasty bite, there’s always poison to worry about. Both bites and poison come with hefty vet bills that you definitely don’t need on your plate right now.
Training your dog to stay away from snakes could not only save you those bills, it could also save him from serious injury or even death. This training could also help you teach him to keep clear of other slippery problems.
Thankfully, training your dog to stay away from snakes is relatively straightforward. You need to motivate him to stay clear using a variety of tasty treats. You also need to find suitable ways to distract him and keep a close reign on him. The most challenging part will be staying vigilant until training is complete. If he’s a puppy then he should be eager to please and quick to respond to training. You may need just a few days to cut out this bad habit. If he’s older and been a snake enthusiast for many years then you have more of an uphill battle on your hands. It could take up to three weeks to finally stem his interest.
Training him to stay away from snakes though, will save you considerable stress when you see him bound towards a slithering reptile. This training will also help drill some discipline into him, making teaching him other commands easier too.
Before you can get to work you’ll need to get your hands on a few things. A decent stock pile of treats or his favorite food will be needed. These will be used to tempt him away and reward good behavior.
A variety of deterrence measures are also needed for one of the methods below. You’ll also need a secure leash and possibly a body harness if he’s strong and likes to pull. The other main component you need is time. You need to be on lookout during walks and spend a few minutes each day training.
With all of those boxes ticked you’re ready to get started!
The Habitat Control Method
When you’re on walks, keep him on a short leash. That way you can quickly pull him away from snakes until training is complete. If the leash is short you can also keep him firmly on the path and away from discreet snake hotspots.
If he runs into snakes when he’s playing in the yard, keep him tethered until the habit is under control. He’s unlikely to encounter trouble if he can’t get near any dark or hidden crevices where they may be hiding.
Any piles of wood in your yard will be a snake hotspot. Remove this temptation and snakes may skip your yard and move onto the next, preventing any canine confrontations.
If the yard is where a lot of encounters take place, then take steps to make it less snake friendly. You can have special fences to keep them at bay. You can also get chemical repellants that will deter them from breaching your perimeter.
Set aside a morning to going around your house and looking for any cracks. These will allows snakes entry into your dog’s environment and may cause trouble. Any cracks you find you need to seal. Follow all of the steps above and your dog won’t come into contact with snakes and will soon lose any interest.
The ‘Here’ Method
Get his attention
Hold a treat in front of his nose to make sure you’ve got his undivided attention. You’re going to teach him to come to you as soon as you call him, so you can quickly draw him away from any snakes.
Give the command in a clear but friendly voice. You can use any word or phrase you like. If he thinks it’s a game he’s more likely to want to play, so smile as you do it and hold the treat so he only has to move a tiny bit to get to it. As soon as he comes to you to get the treat, give it to him.
Increase the distance
Now move slightly farther away and call him over again using the command. Again give him the treat and praise as soon as he comes to you. Keep practicing this for a few minutes each day and increase the distance each time until you can call him over from far away.
Keep practicing the ‘here’ command, but now do it outside on walks and when other people and pets are around. When you can call him over without problems, even when there are plenty of distractions around, then you can slowly cut out the tasty treats at the end.
Now use the command whenever you see him approach any snakes. Make sure you stay upbeat and he’ll quickly come back to you. If you do this every time he sees a snake he’ll soon give up going near them altogether. You can also use this command to keep him away from other distractions.
The Response Method
If you do see him head towards a snake, quickly pull him in the opposite direction. Don’t hurt him, but make sure he knows you mean business. If you react every time, he’ll eventually give up going for them in the first place.
When you yank on the leash, also show your displeasure orally. Again, don’t go overboard, but make sure your tone is clear and to the point. Any upbeat talking will send the wrong message completely.
Whenever he makes any movement away from a snake, be quick to reward him. Give him a treat and shower him with praise. If he’s always rewarded for coming away, then he’ll soon decide the promise of guaranteed food is worth ignoring the snake.
Give him plenty of exercise each day. A tired dog is a lazy dog, and lazy dogs don’t go and bother snakes. If he’s too busy lying in his bed he won’t care about investigating the slippery reptiles. A second walk or playing fetch will give you the knackered dog you need.
Keep his energy focused elsewhere. Give him food puzzles and plenty of toys that are much more interesting than snakes. Food puzzles can keep him adequately occupied for hours each day. If you can keep snakes bottom of the list then he’ll soon lose interest and stay away.
Written by James Barra
Veterinary reviewed by:
Published: 11/16/2017, edited: 01/08/2021