With snake breeding season being well and truly in full swing, dog owners are being urged to take extra precaution.
According to dog trainer Debi Coleman, the best type of protection is complete avoidance - which is, of course, easier said than done when it comes to dogs. It's why she is running a course to help owners teach dogs exactly that.
"It's not only teaching the dogs to avoid the snake but to come to you as soon as they're called ... and to not interact with the snake in the first place," she explained.
"It's a five week course where we start with just getting people to understand why dogs behave [the way they do]... and how to get a good recall."
Developing a "good recall" with a dog so that he or she immediately responds to their owner in an emergency is something that has to "layered" and built up over time, Ms Coleman explained.
"You can't just suddenly expect a dog who doesn't have a good recall to come back to you anyway, so you're not going to [get them] to come back [when] there's a snake around.
"So it's building all that stuff up.... Teaching a good recall [involves the dog learning that if they encounter] the sight, movement and smell of a snake, to come back to you or to [go to] a safe allocated place."
To do this, Ms Coleman's training involves toy snakes, snake skin and even dead snakes.
With these props and dedicated repetition consisting of lots of positive reinforcement from food or a favourite toy, dogs learn to respond to owners even when the stimuli of a snake or rabbit presents itself.
And contrary to popular belief, Ms Coleman says avoidance training can be taught to dogs at any age.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:
HAVE YOUR SAY
- Send us a letter to the editor using the form below ...