Travelling WA outfit Carnarvon K9 Training Solution, offers a range of dog-training services, including a popular snake awareness course using real snakes. 

Story Ken Eastwood   Photo courtesy K9 Training Solutions

Nine years ago, Carnarvon snake catcher, reptile lover and high-level dog trainer Rob Newman decided to combine many of his interests in a business that specialises in teaching snake awareness to dogs. “We’re aware many dogs get bitten by snakes here and die,” he says. “Western browns, northern browns, whip snakes and mulga snakes – you name it, it’s up here.”

In two 45-minute sessions held over a weekend, Rob imprints the dogs with snakes. At first he used some pretend snakes, but now only uses the real thing, so the dogs learn how snakes move and smell. An e-collar is used to give the dogs a negative stimulation if they get too close to the snake – usually an unpleasant vibration, or, if necessary, a small shock. “It’s a bit uncomfortable for the dog, but not so uncomfortable that they fear the collar rather than the stimulation,” he says.

Working with his partner Camille Williams, Rob trained about 280 dogs in snake awareness last year in Carnarvon and further afield. “We travel for many kilometres – to Karratha, Tom Price, Geraldton, Shark Bay. We try to cover a lot of the Mid-West and the Pilbara as well,” he says. The training costs $250–$300, depending on location.

This story excerpt is from Issue #140

Outback Magazine: December/January 2022