Livestock Guarding Dogs

Snake Aversion Training For Dogs Saving Cats

  • by Cheetah Conservation Fund Canada July 4, 2024
Snake Aversion Training For Dogs Saving Cats

Research and innovation are key components of CCF holistic approach to conservation. By investing in innovative initiatives that benefit both wildlife and local communities.

Over the years, CCF observed that snake bites were the leading cause of dog losses in the livestock guarding dog program, particularly bites from black mambas, puff adders, and zebra cobras.  Something had to be done to prevent further losses. Last month, CCF launched a new Snake Aversion Training, furthering the promotion of coexistence between humans, livestock, and wildlife.

With this new training initiative, CCF is taking proactive steps to ensure the safety and well-being of the livestock guarding dogs – while minimizing conflicts with wildlife, including the predators sometimes found beneath our feet.

Namibia is a hotspot for reptiles, and is home to 81 different types of snakes – including 11 venomous species identified as being potentially life-threatening to humans and dogs.

These snakes have a dormant period often referred to as “brumation” in reptiles, is similar to hibernation in mammals. During this time, snakes become less active and may seek out sheltered locations to wait out colder or drier periods when food availability might be limited. In Namibia, where temperatures can vary considerably across different regions, snakes may enter dormancy during colder months or during times of extreme heat and dryness to conserve energy and reduce metabolic activity. However, it’s important to note that even during dormancy, snakes can still be capable of defending themselves with their venom if threatened or disturbed.

So, what is Snake Aversion Training exactly?

The training process involves exposing dogs to the sight and smell of snakes in a controlled environment. By familiarizing our dogs with these cues, we’re teaching them to recognize and avoid potentially harmful encounters with snakes in the wild.

This training is especially important for the continued success of livestock guarding dogs protecting the livestock from predation. Encountering a venomous snake can be life-threatening, and it has been the number one cause for dog losses, particularly bites from black mambas, puff adders, and zebra cobras.

By equipping our dogs with the skills to identify and steer clear of snakes, we’re reducing the risk of snake bite incidents and ensuring the long-term effectiveness of our conservation efforts.

snake prop

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