There's a way to turn your family dog from potential snake bite victim into a snake saviour, according to one canine expert.
And with our slithery friends out in ever-increasing numbers already, the founder and director of Wollongong K9 Academy (WK9A), believes the time is now.
Dog trainer extraordinaire Ewa Mantaj is not alone.
Customers can expect doors to
Illawarra Snake Catcher Glen Peacock, who has been particularly busy over the past few weeks, agreed that dogs are a great first line of defence.
Only on Sunday Mr Peacock was called to a child's birthday party at Shell Cove - where he removed a young red-bellied black snake.
"Snake avoidance training is 100 per cent important," Mr Peacock said.
"Dogs can smell snakes, they should be trained to protect themselves when they sense danger."
The training, Ms Mantaj explained, is simple enough after some basics skills have been established.
"Everyone's got a snake story. I have," she said before detailing an incident about 10 years ago in her own Wollongong backyard.
But because her dogs were well-trained, she called them away from the angry snake and they responded.
"We called the snake catcher and he caught it. It was riddled with teeth holes, like a stapler went through it.
"So my dogs did what dogs do - and they attacked," she explained.
That does not always end well.
Just recently the Mercury reported on Blade, a six-year-old Labrador-Border Collie, that paid the ultimate sacrifice protecting his humans.
And only last week a dog was taken to a vet surgery chewing on a red-bellied black snake.
Yet a simple 12-week online course could save all that heartache.
"We're doing this in partnership with a trainer in Perth where they are far more experienced in snake avoidance training," Ms Mantaj said.
"But everyone has a snake story so it is more relevant here than ever before."
As well as live weekly Q&A workshops, a year's access to the online program content, and Snake Kit (including fake snake, and scent from two species of venomous snake likely to be encountered in the Illawarra), participants also are checked to ensure their dog has the requisite skills to get the most from the course.
"This could be a life-saving course - not just for your dog, but your family, too," Ms Mantaj said.
The course costs $525 and is significantly cheaper than the antivenom serum used to treat dogs, which is estimated at $3000.
It's not just dogs, Mr Peacock wants to be alert to the danger posed by snakes.
People attempting to kill snakes rather than seeking help causes more damage than good, Mr Peacock said.
He rekcons about "85% of snake bites occur when someone's trying to kill a snakes, or attempting to catch it in the wrong way".
Signing your dog up to an avoidance course might reduce the possibility, too. Contact Wollongong K9 Academy for more details.
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