My chocolate lab has taken to snake hunting

Discussion in 'Labrador behaviour' started by threedogmom, Sep 30, 2020.

  1. threedogmom

    threedogmom Registered Users

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    I don't know if anyone has had issues with their lab exhibiting a strong predatory drive, but my ordinarily mellow and friendly chocolate, Daisy, has suddenly started killing snakes. This past summer there have been a surprisingly large number of rattlesnakes all over my usual hiking trails. Rattlers are usually extremely rare where I live because it doesn't get or stay hot enough for them. So, off leash romping has always been safe and most of the trails allow dogs off leash. Earlier this summer, we encountered a rattlesnake on an overgrown trail. I heard the rattle and managed to grab two of my dogs, but my chocolate took off after it before I could stop her. I couldn't go get her without endangering my other two dogs and all voice recall was lost once she saw that snake. Another hiker approached from the other direction and in a flash, Daisy grabbed the snake by neck and shook it to death right in front of us. I had to chase her down because she was running around with the snake in her mouth. We rushed back to the car and to the vet and after a thorough examination it was determined she had not been bitten. Since then I have avoided the narrow, overgrown trails and tried to hike in the cooler parts of the day and I've been keeping her on leash. Yesterday, we encountered another rattlesnake on a wide, heavily trafficked trail. It had rattled at two people coming the other direction and Daisy pulled out of her collar, cornered the snake and had killed it practically before I could even think. Another rush to the vet, no bite. These were definitely rattlesnakes-I saw the rattle and heard it. She has never done anything like this; she's 8years old and I've had her since she was 8 weeks old. I am concerned she has developed a taste for killing rattlesnakes--it seems she's protecting me and possibly other hikers, but this is a highly dangerous activity. Has anyone experienced a late-onset taste for the kill in their labs? Is it too late for rattlesnake training?
     
  2. sarah@forumHQ

    sarah@forumHQ Moderator

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    Hi threedogmom, welcome to the forum :)

    I'm in the UK, so I can't pretend to have any experience of dealing with rattlesnakes. I can imagine you must be feeling pretty taken aback by this new development though!

    My suggestion is teaching Daisy to associate the rattle sound with a really amazing treat. Use audio clips from YouTube or similar, and give her something irresistibly brilliant to eat at the same time, such as still-warm steak or roast chicken. If she's clicker trained, you could mark the rattle sound with your clicker. Hopefully then when she hears a rattle in the wild, she'll turn to you in expectation of a treat, for long enough that you can secure her.

    I'd be fascinated to know if this is something our other members have dealt with as well!
     
  3. threedogmom

    threedogmom Registered Users

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    Thanks That is a great idea--the clicker training. I am going to try it! I know there is rattlesnake training but it is based on the same idea.
     
  4. BongoMum

    BongoMum Registered Users

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    Oh my goodness...how frightening for you! I'd hope my Boy would instinctively avoid a snake if he came across one...he ignores Cane Toads but maybe he tried to pick one up once & learnt the hard way . I'd love some advice to try & train avoidance, we come across snakes from time to time at home here in Australia.
    We get some big lizards that we love to chase. Chased one into the pool once, my boy stayed out of the water but bent down to sniff only for the bold lizard to lunge out of the water, croc style & bite him on the nose! We needed lots of cuddles after that shock encounter! Doesn't stop the chase though...
     

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