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Idaho Chukar Foundation hosts snake avoidance course for dogs

Posted at 3:57 PM, May 18, 2024

BOISE, Idaho — Snakes, porcupines and skunks can all pose serious problems for dogs and their owners in the outdoors. So for the last 26-years the Idaho Chukar Foundation has put together an avoidance course.

The goal is for dogs to recognize these dangers and run away, alerting their human of the danger present. During the training, dogs avoid real snakes and when they make a run for it they get praised by their owner.

This training features real snakes

"We use gopher snakes because they are non-poisonous, but they imitate a rattlesnake with the way they strike, coil and hiss," said Drew Whalin of the Idaho Chukar Foundation. "It’s incredible, some dogs pick it up in just a few stations."

Most of the dogs didn't even notice the snake on the first station, but by the end they learned to avoid snakes, porcupines and skunks. Karen Cercione brought her dog, Ice, because she lives south of town where she worries about snakes.

Karen & Ice

"The training was great. It really made him aware to look where he is going and to react," said Cercione. "I think that the handlers are great, they give you good direction and you feel safe around the snakes."

Every dog owner receives a reference guide for post training. This guide features information on what to do if your dog gets bit, quilled or sprayed by a skunk. It also shares where and when dog owners can expect to run into these creatures.

Discovering a skunk

"We give them the ecology of snakes, porcupines and skunks so they know where they are most active," said Whalin, who looks forward to this training all-year. "Oh gosh, seeing all these dogs, are you kidding me? This is dog heaven, what is heaven? That is where you go to meet all your dogs."

The Idaho Chukar Foundation will host one more training this summer at Julia Davis Park on Saturday, June 1. For more information on the times and how to get signed up click here.