Frequently Asked Questions...and answers!!!
1) How are you different than others in the business?

Each company that provides this training differs in what they have to offer. I do my absolute best to give clients the most effective, realistic version of the training available. See below some of the benefits unique to my training:

  • I use live, muzzled rattlesnakes ( NOT caged) of varying sizes for maximum understanding and realism.
  • I use the endemic species of the region (C. o. oreganus for NorCal and Southern Oregon, C. atrox for Arizona)
  • I offer a complete approach (multiple steps that include sight, sound, and smell - all together, as well as individually)
  • I can train dogs on or OFF LEASH in private lessons (this allows the dog to feel more "free" and are therefore less likely to suspect their human has anything to do with the lesson!)
  • Your dog(s) will be avoiding the rattlesnakes by the end of the lesson or I do not charge.
  • I am known for conservative e-collar use. I start the collars at a very low level and gradually increase to higher intensity as the dog responds. This allows me to find the "sweet spot" for each individual dog, and allows successful training for even the most sensitive dogs.
  • I offer discounted follow up lessons to make sure your dog(s) really did learn the lesson the first time and are maintaining the avoidance behavior throughout their life.
  • I offer multiple options for training. If you want it in your yard where it will be most comfortable for you and your dog, I come to you. If you want it where you hike, camp, etc. we can probably go there too. If you want to come to me and save a few bucks, you can do that as well at a clinic. I am also willing to travel just about anywhere there is need.
  • I operate full time. Training is availabe all season long in Arizona and during most of the "season" in CA (March-October) - weekdays and weekends.
  • My expertise is not limited to just dogs or just snakes, I know both.
  • Your dog won't be dragged off by a stranger. I allow the owner to not only watch but be involved in the training (of course, you don't have to touch the snakes!)
  • I understand that each dog is different and strive to meet their individual needs, taking proper time and measures to ensure effective training. After setup/paperwork, training typically takes about 30 minutes per dog though I am happy to go longer if they need it (such as giving sensitive dogs breaks between steps).
  • If you have 2 to 3 dogs who are always together and want them trained as a duo or trio, no problem!
  • The snakes are always handled professionally and respectfully. My snakes are incredibly well-cared for.
  • My snakes are not overworked, abused animals! I don't clip their fangs, their venom glands have NOT been removed. They are in their natural state, and are well cared for. I legally have multiple snakes which allows me to rotate individuals during the busiest months. I use a surgical tape muzzle made for skin which stays on tight during training and comes off easily afterwards - no harm done to the snakes.
  • I offer cheap safety inspections for your property with the private lesson training, and remove any snakes I find.
  • I love dogs, snakes, and people - call me anytime if you have questions!

2) What dogs should get this training?

If there is ever a point where your dog could be exposed to a rattlesnake, I highly recommend you do this training. Regardless of how "smart" they seem, 99% of dogs ranging from the not-so-bright to the extremely sharp are more than happy to bury their nose right into a rattlesnake. This is simply because the dog is fascinated and has no clue it is a venomous threat that could potentially kill them with a single strike. Just like we must educate our developing children on what is safe or not safe to touch, inform your dog of the danger of rattlesnakes through this training before their optimistic innocence makes them a victim. 

3) How old does my dog have to be for the training?

I recommend that dogs be at least 6 months old to undergo this training. Dogs under 6 months don't typically have the developmental maturity to effectively learn the lesson as well as maintain the understanding long term. We also don't want to leave any marks on their emotional development and understanding of the world at too young of an age. Of course, some of this depends on the individual. Some 5 month old small breeds may learn the lesson perfectly while a 7 month old large breed might still need some time. If your dog is near this cut off, give me a call and we can discuss what is best for your dog and situation.

4) My dog is extremely sensitive to any negative experience, can he/she be trained?

Yes, more than likely this will not be a problem. Sensitive dogs may require more creativity and take longer to work with, but they often are the ones that get the lesson down the first time and maintain the understanding for years post training. I take extra precautions to make discomfort minimal, without sacrificing effectiveness of the training - for ALL dogs. I recommend that sensitve dogs avoid the clinics and undergo a private lesson if possible. For more on dog sensitivity/shock collar use, see question #11.

5) How long does the training take?

Due to paperwork, setup, and explanation of the process, private lessons take about an hour for the first  dog, and 30 minutes for each additional. That said, time actually spent training is about 30 minutes per dog. As for weekend clinics, my clinics are designed to be as efficient as possible and typically take 30 minutes per dog as long as you show up a few minutes early to knock out paperwork before your slot.

6) How long will my dog remember the lesson?

This varies by individual, and like any other training there's no guarantee that your dog will remember the lesson the very next day. I only say that to be safe, though! I have trained many dogs and 3+ years later they still remember the lesson perfectly even without a follow up in between, in some cases. I recommend that your dogs undergo a follow up annually just to diminish any chances of "forgetting" about rattlesnakes. Regardless of whatever your dog's capacity is to remember the lesson long term, you will more than likely be very surprised at how effectively this "sticks" despite being such a short, one-time lesson.

7) My dog has had no prior training of any kind, is this a problem?

Nope! Not at all. In fact, dogs with zero training are often easier to work with. This is because very trained dogs are often glued to their owner's leg and won't take their eyes off of them. A dog with zero training will be running around burying their nose in everything - which means they will run right into the snakes, scented items, and other props more quickly and have no clue that their owner had anything to do with it. These, however, are the dogs that are also the most likely to get bit in the first place!

8) My dog has been bitten by a rattlesnake before. Do you think he/she still needs the training?

Yes! Unfortunately, most dogs do not learn from a real bite. This is because when a rattlesnake first strikes a dog, the initial pain is relatively tolerable, until the venom begins to take effect seconds later. Within minutes (and the dog has probably left the snake by this point) the pain and swelling worsen to the point it is almost completely debilitating. Because of this delay between the most intense side effects of the bite and the actual bite, dogs more than likely do not associate the painful event with the snake at all. Many people have come to me with dogs who have been bitten once, twice, and even four times at different points of their life and somehow survived - only to have them trained in one hour and never approach a rattlesnake again!

9) Will my dog avoid other snakes after this training?

Possibly. This varies for different dogs. Typically, the more sensitive and cautious dogs will avoid all snakes as well as ocassional garden hoses, extension cords, etc and anything else that looks, smells or sounds like a snake! Others, such as the highly prey-driven dogs, will avoid rattlesnakes but still go after things like lizards, garter snakes and even gopher snakes. This is EXACTLY why this training requires the use of real, live rattlesnakes. If I could train the dog with a garden hose or a garter snake, believe me, I would! Rattlesnakes are unique enough that most dogs can tell the difference, especially with their incredibly sensitive noses.

10) My dog has prior (or no) e-collar experience, will this effect the training?

Nope! Dogs with zero, some, and lots of shock collar experience alike all do very well with the training normally.

11) Can you train the dogs without the use of shock collars?

As of right now, the answer is no for several reasons. It would take a customized plan of multiple lessons and the dogs would more than likely not truly ever understand the "why" behind avoiding rattlesnakes other than to simply please you. Therefore, it would be difficult to help them develop a very strong, instinctive reaction to avoiding snakes especially when they encounter one alone. You want a fast instinctive reaction to ANY rattlesnake cue. A rattlesnake strike speed is approximately 7 feet per second, therefore immediate response to a snake-stimuli is crucial! You simply cannot get that with positive methods, period. For now, there is a reason that shock collars are the standard tool used for this training - they teach the dog in a single lesson and in a way that lasts years. However, I am not like others who use the collars harshly and have give the training a bad name. I do NOT start the collars at high levels. In fact, I start at ZERO and work upward until the dog responds appropriately. It is completely unneccesarry to shock a dog with a level 120 when they learn the lesson perfectly with a 20-40. I take no pleasure in harming any animal. What I do love to see is dogs learning to avoid rattlesnakes - especially since it is such a potentially life saving lesson. Lastly, please keep in mind that NO level of shock these collars can produce is even close to the real bite of a ticked off rattlesnake! 

12) Can you train small dogs?

YES, I have trained hundreds of dogs under 20lbs. So far, the smallest dog I have worked with was a 2.5lbs Yorkie.

13) Can you train in the rain?

Generally, yes. I definitely have no problem training in light rain. However, because the entire session is outdoors, it can be extremely uncomfortable for everyone if it is in heavy rain and I will usually ask to reschedule (assuming you don't ask first!) In cold (<60F) , wet weather, the snakes become extremely sluggish, dogs lose focus, etc. Additionally, heavy rain complicates things such as how I go about the scented items and making sure they don't get drenched, keeping sound equipment protected, etc. For training when there is wet weather on the forecast, please be flexible with scheduling!

14) How hot is too hot to train?

When the sun is out in the middle of the sky and the temperature is 90+ degrees F, it's too hot for training. We'd be rushing the training because of the discomfort, the dogs will get too warm if not overheat and begin to lose focus, and combining that with the added pressure due to the nature of the training it is just not an ideal scenario. Not to mention the many saftey-related reasons for not training in extreme heat. The ground is warm which can be dangerous for a dog's paws as well as my snakes. Both the snakes and dogs can overheat very quickly - neither of them sweat like we can! Not to mention it's uncomfortable or even dangerous for people, too. When the weather gets hot after spring, I generally shift my scheduling to early morning hours and end the day earlier. Occasionally I can do later in the evenings as well.

15) When is the best time to train?

In Arizona, the best time to train is in winter - which seems counterintuitive to most. This is because Arizona winter weather is fantastic for training. Dogs are comfortable and focused, and don't wear out as quickly compared to a hot day. This is true for the snakes as well since it's still plenty warm enough for them to function during the day but not so warm I have to constantly check on them and limit the training to shaded areas. Additionally, this is the time of year when the snakes aren't as active in nature. Most people wait until the heat hits and snakes are everywhere, and suddenly I go from a few scattered appointments to having to push people back 2-3 weeks. Remember, this is a 1-time training! Lastly, vets have cared for snake-bite every single month of the year in Arizona. The rattlesnakes do NOT truly hibernate in Arizona and therefore there is a year-round threat in the valley. In northern California, it would be ideal to train in March/April since the weather is a bit too cold prior.

16) I am camping in the mountains where other types of rattlesnakes are, will the training still work there?

Though dogs seem to know the difference between other snakes and rattlesnakes, most seem to group all rattlesnakes together. Though they vary in appearance slightly and arguably in smell - to a dog they look generally the same, have some aspects of their smell in common due to similar physiologies, and definitely all make the same noise. We keep a wide variety of snakes and if you are concerned and want to eliminate any guess work, we do have no problem using one of our Pairie, Speckleds, etc. 

17) Do you have references?

I certainly do. Please check out the testimonials  section of this website to see reviews about me in various forms, my business in the news, etc. Take a look at my Facebook page and read comments/reviews from people posting there. If you are still not satisfied, I would be happy to send you a list of some personal references. For vet offices, I can put you in touch with other vet offices who have and continue to host me for classes at their clinics.


18) What does your wife think of what you do?

My beautiful wife, Kate Will, is certainly not a fan of snakes - though she tolerates them very well. (That's all I can ask for!) She helps with the non-snake-related parts of the business. I was already doing this business before meeting her, too - so she has no excuses!


19) Can I get some of your information to display at my vet office, pet store, kennel, etc?


Absolutely! Give me a call, text, or e-mail and I'd be happy to deliver a small display of brochures to you free of charge. Of course, this is assuming you are within my general territory. I can also e-mail a PDF version of my brochure upon request.


20) I live a good 100+ miles away and can't find anyone else to train my dog in snake aversion, what can I do?

If you can round up some more dogs (friends, neighbors, etc) I would be happy to make the trip for you! You may also come to me if you're willing to travel a bit. If you just can't get either of those to work out, cover my travel in excess and I'll make a special trip for you.

21) What is your opinion on the rattlesnake vaccine?

Despite a lot of controversy over the effectiveness of these,  I say get it - but do your research. Understand that in no way does this vaccine make your dog completely immune to a rattlesnake bite. With or without it, it's going to be a painful, expensive event for your dog. Don't let the shot give you a false sense of security! They are designed to "boost" their immune system and buy you more time should a bite occur. For those reasons and because I have heard enough vets swear by them, combined with the fact they aren't that expensive nor complicated, I am all for them. Obviously, I would put priority on the training - since it should prevent the problem in the first place. Get the vaccine as an added back up plan!

22) What is the rattlesnake season?

In California and Arizona, there is no real rattlesnake season. Generally speaking, snakes become active in early spring and then begin to brumate in late fall. This is typically March-October. However, a rattlesnake could be found on a sunny day in the middle of January if the weather is right, and therefore there is no guarantee you won't see one November-February. This is especially true in Arizona in areas like Phoenix, Tucson, and all sonoran desert valley. Snakes can warm up easily and quickly in the sun, even if the weather is 66 degrees (which is the Phoenix average high in December). Vets have treated dogs for snake bite every single month of the year in Arizona.

23) Are smaller rattlesnakes the most dangerous?

I don't know where this started, but it has not been proven to be true at all. It has been said that baby rattlesnakes can't control their venom and are therefore the most dangerous. The reality is, baby rattlesnakes are tiny and terrified. Any threat is probably going to get their full dose of venom, and with their smaller size they are harder to spot. However, the venom glands of a baby snake are only a fraction of the size of an adult snake. So in reality if a mature, adult rattlesnake was to be angry enough to inject all of their venom, it would do A LOT more damage than any baby rattlesnake could possibly do. Either way, both babies and adults are extremely dangerous animals. Avoid both just the same!

24) What do I do if I get bit by a rattlesnake?

Get to a hospital, YESTERDAY! The best and only thing you can really do is get to a hospital as soon as possible and let the emergency doctors handle the situation. I am frequently asked this question and am expected to give some sort of secret tip - but there's just nothing else you can do. Time is tissue!

25) Do rattlesnakes attack humans?

Nope, and if your friend told you a story about being chased down by a rattlesnake, they are lying. Rattlesnakes are very shy animals that want to be left alone. They rattle out of fear and defense, not aggression. They will never go out of their way to attack. If you step on one, intentionally mess with it, etc - they have no choice but to strike since you didn't heed their warning. Honestly, their rattle is a huge blessing!

I will be regularly adding to this list of Q&A