LA QUINTA, Calif. -

"Our previous dog, she got zapped by a rattlesnake in the desert and nearly died," Jay Conley said.

Snake season hit the desert quickly.

"We had a mild winter and it warmed up early. It's a temperature thing. As soon as they can, they're gonna come out and start hunting," Loma Linda herpetologist Carl Person said.

One local pet store, Ambrosia Pet Deli, even posted signs all over warning pet owners to be on the lookout for snakes. We talked to experts about what you need to know. 

"If you see one, back up a couple steps, go around. The snake is not going to chase you," Person said.

Also, always stay on trails.
 
We talked to animal training specialist Karen Singleton,  a few days before her snake avoidance clinic in La Quinta. She says the best thing to do is listen to your dog.
 
"At least five times a day during a clinic, I'm brought to tears because the dog is cutting the owner off, saying don't walk any further, jumping on the owner's backside, lying down," she said.

Animals can tell when snakes are near, Singleton told us.

"Their senses are unbelievable. They can smell one part urine to a billion parts water. They can smell from a mile's distance, some scientists say five miles depending on the wind," Singleton said.
 
Another option to learn snake avoidance is an an electric collar.
 
"An E-collar allows me to stimulate the dog from afar. The dog doesn't associate it with the handler or the bush," Singleton said.

Singleton will teach snake avoidance at 60800 Trilogy Parkway in La Quinta on Saturday, March 22.  It runs from 9 a.m. to 6:30 and costs $75 per dog. Dogs must be four months or older. Walk-ins are welcome, but to make your appointment, call 909-464-0393.

For more information on the clinic, go to www.sradt.com.

Here are some other tips to keep your pet safe from the ASPCA:
-Keep your yard tidy by clearing away undergrowth, toys and tools that make great hiding places for snakes.
-Keep walkways clear of brush, flowers and shrubs.
-Clean up any spilled food, fruit or bird seed, which can attract rodents-and therefore snakes-to your yard.
-When walking your pet, keep him on a leash.
-Steer your pet clear of long grasses, bushes and rocks.
-Snakes can strike across a distance equal to about half their body length. If you see a snake, head back the way you came.
-Familiarize yourself with snakes who are common in your area. In the event of a bite, identifying the type of snake may help with your pet's treatment.