SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) - A select group of people in Salt Lake put their dogs face to face with a rattlesnake Sunday afternoon to teach the dogs a valuable lesson. They participated in a unique training program that uses a powerful shock collar to teach the dogs to avoid rattlesnakes for the rest of their lives.
The rattlesnake used in the training was de-fanged for the dogs' safety. It was brought to a parking lot at 9th and 9th by reptile expert Jim Dix.
Web Parton, with Snake Safe Training from Arizona, was responsible for training the dogs. He said when dogs encounter rattlesnakes in the wild, they are very curious.
"They see this funny thing, hear this sound," said Parton. "They go put their nose on it to see what it is, and then you're on your way to the vet's office."
Parton's training is designed to break that impulse. The first step was to get the dogs acquainted with the rattler. The dogs spent several minutes sniffing the snake and walking around it.
The second step was not nearly as pleasant. Parton waited for the dogs to get close to the rattlesnake then shocked them with a collar. It made the dogs feel like they had been bitten in the neck.
"They will remember it the rest of their life," said Parton.
That is the whole point of the training. After getting shocked, the dogs completely avoided getting close to the snake. Some of them even barked when they were brought too close.
The training may seem harsh, but experts say, consider the alternative.
"We were down here yesterday doing a class, and a lady's dog just got bit three days earlier," said Dix. "It was about $1,875 (to treat)."
Rattlesnake bites can also be fatal to dogs and humans.
Parton charges $110 per dog for the rattlesnake training.
Dix said he has received several reports this summer of rattlesnakes on mountain trails and even in backyards. He said the snakes like to come out early in the morning and early evening when it is cooler.
The training classes continue at 9th and 9th until Sunday, August 5 at 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.