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Rattlesnake avoidance course for dogs to be offered in Las Cruces

Rattlesnakes are out of hibernation now and that can mean serious trouble for dog owners who fail to take precaution while out hiking or walking on trails with their pets.

A rattlesnake avoidance training course is coming to Las Cruces this weekend to help dog owners and their canines know what to do during potential encounters with snakes.

During the training, live snakes will be used in a controlled environment.

Tucson dog trainer Roger Nelson places a shock collar on dogs and directs the dog owner to lead their leashed pet through a series of interactions with muzzled Western Diamondbacks.

The dogs are taught how to react when they encounter the poisonous snake via sight, scent and sound.

Dog owner Heather Oinos has enrolled her two dogs, Jack and Jasper, in rattlesnake avoidance courses multiple times near her desert home in the Wilcox, Arizona area.

Jack has suffered a snake bite, but that doesn’t stop the dog owner from doing everything possible to help her dogs avoid snakes.

“We have a lot of exposure to snakes on our land. It (the rattlesnake avoidance course) is not guaranteed, but we want to give the dogs the best shot for their safety,” Oinos told ABC-7.

Trainers said many dogs perform so well during training that, by the conclusion of their training, they shield their owners from the snakes.

“Rattlesnakes are a defensive creature. Their first defense is their camouflage. Their second is rattling. They don’t want to attack,” said Tucson snake handler James Stokoe.

The snakes will bite if they feel threatened and the range of a snake’s bite is typically two-thirds of the snake’s body length.

Anyone interested in the rattlesnake avoidance course can email Taylor Sanchez at

The course is offered at scheduled times throughout Saturday, April 27th. The location will be Aggie Storage at 960 Sand Castle near I-25 and Highway 70.

The initial training cost is $80 with a lifetime retraining price of $40. The trainers are from Green Valley Canine near Tucson. They only make one trip to Southern New Mexico each spring.

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