Padfoot head trainer James Davis monitors a dog’s behaviour while she is introduced to Angus the python by Padfoot senior trainer Courtney Cosgriff. Picture: Kim Daley
Padfoot head trainer James Davis monitors a dog’s behaviour while she is introduced to Angus the python by Padfoot senior trainer Courtney Cosgriff. Picture: Kim Daley

Eastern brown snakes slither into Coast dog school

Sunshine Coast dog owners are braving encounters with some of country's most venomous snakes in the hope it could one day save their dogs's life.

Padfoot founder and animal behaviourist James Davis launched snake avoidance training this month after spotting a gap in the market.

 

Padfoot head trainer James Davis monitors the dog's behaviour while she is introduced to Angus the python by Padfoot senior trainer Courtney Cosgriff. Picture: Kim Daley
Padfoot head trainer James Davis monitors the dog's behaviour while she is introduced to Angus the python by Padfoot senior trainer Courtney Cosgriff. Picture: Kim Daley

While courses with similar end goals began popping up in Australia in recent years, Mr Davis said his recent research with the University of Queensland led him away from commonly overused high-stimulation shock collars.

"That can sometimes trigger a fight response in dogs with high prey drives rather than a flight response," Mr Davis said.

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His four-week courses, held at the Buderim Mountain State School, begin by introducing dogs to the smell of a snakeskin and verbally discouraging them from approaching it.

A low-stimulation electric collar is then introduced as the dogs encounter a real python.

Snake handlers bring eastern brown and red-bellied black snakes onto the oval in the fourth week when it's hoped the scent training has paid off.

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Mr Davis said he used last year to focus on his postgraduate studies in animal science on the theory of snake avoidance training.

 

Padfoot Head Trainer James Davis. Picture: Kim Daley
Padfoot Head Trainer James Davis. Picture: Kim Daley

 

"Putting in practise has really shown the different prey-drives in certain dogs," he said.

"Some breeds, such as terriers, can get really excited when they first encounter a snake while others could let a python slither between their legs without issue.

"But the training is for all breeds."

Mr Davis said he aimed to reduce snake-dog incidents resulting in vet bills up to $20,000 for antivenene or deaths.

Padfoot is now taking bookings for its next snake and cane toad avoidance course scheduled for autumn.


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