The Green Horse section provides practical information on managing environmentally sustainable horse properties, readers stories and tips, as well as advice and articles from equestrian experts in their fields.
Vol 38 No 3
In this issue of The Green Horse you will find the following articles:
Information Exchange - Road bumps and coordinator wanted.
Snake Training for dogs
Hot Topics in Feed Production by Andrea Carmody
Natural Mosquito control 40 by Wendy Elks
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SNAKE TRAINING FOR DOGS
Australia is home to some of the most venomous snakes in the world, with an estimated 60,000 dogs bitten by snakes across Australia each year. With so many horse owners also owning dogs it is These frightening statistics motivated expert dog trainer Seth Pywell to develop a unique training program that teaches dogs to avoid snakes.
By addressing the laws of canine learning and implementing his deep understanding of canine psychology, Seth successfully rectified the fundamental flaws found in the traditional (American) training methods and added a scent detection component to better protect dogs from unseen snakes. Originally provided to specialised working dogs, this training system was refined and field-tested in the Australian bush for over 15 years.
In 2014 the training was modified to suit Search & Rescue dogs, and within months of the first course reports of dogs successfully avoiding snakes in the field were being received.
By 2015 Canine Snake Avoidance International (CSAI) adopted this training system and went on to make training available to the general public, providing pet dogs with lifesaving snake education for the very first time.
A year after their first public graduates, CSAI’s recently held refresher course stands testament to the long-term reliability of this training program, as every single dog re-tested went on to successfully avoid the snakes a year after completing the original course.
Courses are run in small groups of 5-7 dogs over two separate sessions, which are held in different locations a minimum of two weeks apart. This segmented training is done to avoid contextual learning and location sensitivity weaknesses that are consistently created from ‘single location training’.
All dogs are individually handled by CSAI Certified Trainers and permitted to approach a number of snakes and lizards. The dog’s behavior directly influences the outcome, with good decisions being generously rewarded, while bad decisions receive a low-level remote collar consequence.
A wide variety of snakes and lizards are used to generalize the training across all snakes, regardless of the species, age or sex. This generalized training enables locally trained dogs to travel interstate and successfully avoid unfamiliar snake species indigenous to other regions.
CSAI now has certified trainers in both WA and Queensland to provide Australia’s best snake avoidance training to the general public.