EP 16: The Lasting Impact of Rattlesnake Aversion Training in Denver, CO

Don't be afraid to go hiking with your dog

What you’ll learn in this episode:

  • Rattlesnake aversion training, done correctly, lasts a lifetime.
  • How and why dogs can’t see a rattlesnake because of their vision and height.
  • How being exposed to and learning the scent of a rattlesnake protects your dog (and you).
  • The evolution of aversion training and current effective practices
  • What to do when you encounter a rattlesnake on a trail with your aversion-trained dog

Welcome to another episode of Free Range Dogs

In this episode, Web talks with Colorado resident, Pete Loebach, about his experience hiking with his Vizsla/Pointer mix, Adobo.  Adobo is a graduate of a Snake Safe rattlesnake aversion training done by Web in Salt Lake City, UT in 2015. At the time of the original training, Adobo had demonstrated an obvious reaction to avoiding a rattlesnake at the end of the session.

In 2022, Pete and Adobo had an encounter with a rattlesnake on a trail in Colorado which “rattled” him and he gave Web a call to inquire about the need for a “re-check” or refresher training on rattlesnake avoidance. What happened was that Adobo was running out in front when Pete saw the rattlesnake lying across the trail. He became very worried for Adobo and yelled for him to return and then was confused and concerned with Adobo’s reaction to the snake.  Both Pete and Adobo survived the encounter without any trouble, but Pete was left shaken.

As Web will frequently receive similar calls, he used this as an opportunity to share his own education and development doing aversion work and to reassure Pete by exploring the incident and offering possible explanations of what had happened.  He explained that dogs only see in grayscale so unless the snake is moving, it just looks like a bump in the road. Additionally, since dogs are closer to the ground than people are, they are not able to see on the ground at a distance.  Aversion training utilizes layers of experiences to introduce dogs to the danger of rattlesnakes, with scent being the most important for recognition.  

Ultimately, Adobo did “see” the rattlesnake as it became agitated and coiled and rattled. He did not demonstrate the obvious “aversion” that he had at the training, but he did avoid it and did not approach it other than to apparently try to catch its scent.  Additionally, Adobo may have been concerned and confused by Pete’s reaction which was very serious alarm and yelling. 

The multi-layered training done by Web is designed to last for the dog’s lifetime. That said, it isn’t 100% and circumstances can occur where a dog will still get bit. However, it does provide a great deal of protection for both the dog and his family and allows you to go outside and enjoy hiking with your best friend with mostly peace of mind. 


Pete Loebach and his dog, Adobo

Web Parton and Snake Safe Training