Rattlesnake Avoidance Training vs. Rattlesnake Vaccine
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This post includes contributions by our partners from Animalia Herpetofauna. While the company itself is newer, the people behind it are experts in rattlesnake avoidance training. Carl Person is a herpetologist and geneticist with a Ph.D. in the speciation of rattlesnakes. Carl has personally trained my dogs and many of my client’s dogs to avoid rattlesnakes. I highly recommend you consider rattlesnake avoidance training for your dog! It can save its life. As you will read below, rattlesnake vaccines have many limits and risks. They also don’t protect your dog from venom like you normally expect from vaccines. They only buy you some additional time. However, that can be accomplished in a much safer and better manner. In the long run, training your dog to avoid rattlesnakes is a lot better and cheaper.
Rattlesnake vaccines don’t protect a dog from the poison of a rattlesnake. They slow down its distribution in the body. It can give you more time to get to a vet before it’s too late. Unfortunately, that doesn’t work as well as you would hope. A recent study tested the effectiveness of rattlesnake vaccines (CAT vaccines). The test included venoms from the Western Diamondback, Northern Pacific, and Southern Pacific Rattlesnake species. These are the most common rattlesnake species in Southern California. The study found improved survival rates and survival time after challenge exposure to Western Diamondback Rattlesnake venom. However, it may only offer limited protection against Northern Pacific Rattlesnake venom. It provided no significant benefit with Southern Pacific Rattlesnake venom. Read the comparative study on the effectiveness of rattlesnake vaccines for different species of rattlesnakes in the American Journal of Veterinary Research, March 2015, Volume 76, Number 3, Pages 272-279.
According to this study, there is no help for a snake bite by a Southern Pacific Rattlesnake. It makes sense. If you are bitten on Mount San Jacinto, you are affected by a powerful presynaptic neurotoxin. It prevents the cells in your brain from functioning. That’s a problem. If you are bitten in Wrightwood, you get hellerase, which causes miniature blood clots. Also, not good. Or perhaps your blood may turn into water if you are bitten elsewhere. Southern Pacific Rattlesnakes are extremely dangerous. NO antivenom can protect you from their bite. Rattlesnake avoidance training for your dog gives you much better chances of avoiding them.
Rattlesnake Vaccines are Mostly Useless
Veterinarians keep pushing rattlesnake vaccines, including their office staff. Some veterinarian office managers told Carl they could see the difference after the vaccination. They told a herpetologist and geneticist they could read a blood titer by looking at a dog. A blood titer shows how many antibodies are in the blood. It is impossible to know that by just looking. Only a blood test tells you the number of antibodies in your dog’s blood. So to claim a rattlesnake vaccine helped by looking at a dog is silly. You can’t make this stuff up. Interestingly, 99% of veterinarians rely on rattlesnake avoidance training for their dogs. They reject the rattlesnake vaccine for their personal pets. They know the side effects it can have and how useless it is.
Further, it is impossible to know how much venom was injected during a rattlesnake bite. It varies widely. In addition, the venom composition of the rattlesnake population in Southern California is VERY diverse. You won’t know what you got. But even if you did, it wouldn’t help much. So don’t try catching the rattlesnake!
The available antivenom helps with bites by all rattlesnake species. The rattlesnake vaccine is useless. Check out Animalia Herpetofauna’s website for studies on rattlesnake venom and vaccines. EVERY rattlesnake bite is different and complicated by the victim’s age, health and weight.
If the rattlesnake vaccine worked, why don’t we have it for humans? We don’t because it doesn’t.
Rattlesnake Avoidance Training
Rattlesnake avoidance training is a far superior option. Of course, nothing is 100% guaranteed. However, Carl’s team tries to engage the dog’s amazing vomeronasal system. This produces the best results possible. Consequently, Carl and his team have saved lives.
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We can help you, regardless of your dog's challenges or training goals. Being a professional dog trainer means having experience, knowledge, and skill. Further, we developed a highly effective training program to specifically help fearful dogs gain more confidence and become the best possible version of themselves. Building Confidence is our second most popular training program.
Last but not least, we are experts in dealing with all types of aggression in dogs and are often the trainers of last resort after many other programs have failed. Most of our aggressive dog clients previously spent significant money on half-baked solutions without much improvement. This is different from us. We will give you an honest assessment of what goals are realistic for your dog. We will tell you what can be resolved reliably and what likely needs to be managed before we start.
Happy Dog Training is the pet dog training business of Ralf Weber and Sarah Gill. We are certified professional dog trainers in Southern California. We are specialized in advanced obedience training, all forms or behavioral challenges and service dog training. For behavioral training, we are known for our work with aggressive and fearful dogs. Our service dogs, through Total K9 Focus, have a nationwide reputation for their reliability, longevity and performance.
Ralf Weber, MS, TWC CPDT, IACP CDT, CDTA
Certified Professional Dog Trainer Ralf Weber is lead pet dog trainer of Happy Dog Training. Ralf is a long-time dog owner of German Shepherds. During his career, Ralf has worked with over a 1500 dogs of many different breeds. Moreover, Ralf has a thorough understanding of all aspects of canine training. This includes evolutionary psychology, ethology, and, most importantly, learning science. Ralf is specialized in resolving dog behavior challenges—especially fear and aggression. Apart from this, Ralf trains dogs in basic and advanced obedience, service dog tasks, and GRC Dog Sports. Ralf is further certified in a broad range of other canine training areas. Last but not least, Ralf is the author of the behavioral book If Your Dog Could Talk: Understand Your Dog Like Never Before.
Ralf loves helping people have a better relationship with their dogs. He is a certified professional dog trainer in the Training without Conflict™ methodology by Ivan Balabanov (TWC CPDT). Ralf is also a member of the International Association of Canine Professionals and also holds their basic and advanced dog trainer certifications (IACP CDT, CDTA). In addition, Ralf is an AKC-approved evaluator for the AKC Puppy Star, CGC, and Advanced CGC programs and is also certified in canine first aid by the Red Cross.
Sarah Gill, Certified Professional Master Trainer
Sarah Gill, is a professional service dog trainer and handler. Sarah entered the world of professional service dog training after a car accident. As a result, she had to use a wheelchair for almost two years, trying to maneuver in a house not designed for it. No one expected Sarah would walk again. This opened her eyes and became a driving force behind pushing herself to defy the odds. When she regained some stability, Sarah attended a dog training school and learned how to train service dogs. Sarah completed her Master Trainer Certification and gained further experience by training new trainers. However, the school wasn’t accommodating to those with physical difficulties and PTSD. Hence, Sarah moved home to Dallas. In 2019, Sarah teamed up with Ralf and moved to California.
Sarah started this journey because she had a trained dog to mitigate her disabilities. But Sarah needed additional tasking for a new diagnosis. The only option she could find was getting a second dog for the new diagnosis. She knew there had to be a different way to address this. Sarah's passion is changing the ways of the service dog training industry.