Andy Andrews is An Expert in Rattlesnake Aversion Training
Andy Andrews is a dog trainer with more than thirty-five years of experience. He’s got a gritty, yet caring voice and within five minutes of speaking with him he’ll proclaim his love of dogs. And while the master trainer has decades of tips and tricks under his belt, they go far beyond the typical “sit,” “stay,” and “come” commands. What’s so special about Andy’s form of education? He trains dogs in the life saving skill of rattlesnake aversion. This integral training has taken Andy from a “dog whisperer” to a “dog hiss-perer.”
Andy grew up in the high desert where his father, a game warden, would take him along when wild animals like bears would wander into the city and surrounding neighborhoods. The father-son team would take along well-trained hounds, and after many of their beloved dogs were bitten rattlesnakes, they began to formulate a training process to circumvent reptile run-ins.
Honing his craft since the 50’s, Andy is confident that his method is effective –and his clients tend to agree. Not only has Andy received phone calls of gratitude for dogs successfully running away from rattlesnakes, he’s heard testimonials from owners who credit their dog’s body language and barking to alerting little ones to the presence of a rattlesnake.On right: Andy Anderson
It’s A Dog’s World K-9 Academy and Vinjon’s Kennel will be hosting one of Andy’s rattlesnake aversion clinics on Sunday, June 14. The class begins at 9 a.m. for $65, with 30-minute time slots filling up quickly. We invite you and your dog to come out and meet the one and only Andy Anderson, and give your dog the gift of rattlesnake awareness. Keep scrolling to read our interview with Andy.
IADW: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us today, Andy. Why did you become involved with rattlesnake aversion training?
Andy: I’m a dog lover, and never met a dog I didn’t like. We had to come up with some kind of way to keep these dangerous snakes and dogs apart. Anyhow we tried several different things and some were more effective than others. I’ve been in and around it for years and I’ve tried to improve upon it ever since, that was in the early 50’s. I’ve really gotten to know the process, I’m just a tick away from 75 now.
IADW: How does a dog communicate that they’re nervous about a snake?
Andy: Like I said I’m a dog lover and can read them very well, and when it comes this training, it’s important for the owners to understand how to read them too. You have to understand what their body language is telling you. We go through that quite a bit.
IADW: What’s the general process?
Andy: I have always felt that the best way to train the dogs is to do it with as little distraction as possible. We’ll put square cages low to the ground, and put the snakes inside. The whole idea is to introduce the sight, small, and sounds of the snake. It’s vital that the E-collars are on properly, and I lead the dogs around and let dog pretty much do what he wants to do –I let him find out what’s going on. Then the dog will recognize a scent they’ve never smelled before, because rattlesnakes have a very strong scent.
IADW: So at this point, you’re still reading the dog?
Andy: Once the dog and snake see each other, I’ll read the dog’s posture. Then you start the training, and lead the dog in the direction of another cage. All of the cages are made up to look like they’re in a natural environment, that’s important. After going by a couple of cages the dog becomes apprehensive and this when he begins to understand that these snakes aren’t something they want to be around. I work with them and the owner and we learn the dog’s postures and behaviors, and the dog understands that the rattlesnake scent means danger.
IADW: So the snakes are always in the cage?
Andy: Once we’ve done some training altogether, I take the snake out into an open space so the dog can see it without a cage. As soon as the snakes out on the ground, more often than not, the dog will show curiosity. After that we stimulate the dog, and then the light bulb goes off. Then they get it.
IADW: Do you feel rewarded by your work?
Andy: Rewarded, well, I feel glad that I’m helping these dogs and their owners understand how to be aware of rattlesnakes. I’ve seen rattlesnake bites, and they aren’t fun for the dog at all. Through this training they don’t have to experience that.