You have a flashlight and batteries. You’ve stocked up water and food in your pantry. You know where to find safety.
But is your dog ready? And have your trained your dog so s/he know these important emergency commands before disaster strikes?
Will You Ever Face A Disaster?
Before I share the emergency commands I’ve taught Honey to help in a disaster, I need to reach out to you lucky ducks who stay disaster-free.
Sure, you were smart enough to be born in or move to a place that doesn’t suffer from wildfires, tornadoes, earthquakes, blizzards, or hurricanes.
But that doesn’t mean your dog doesn’t need to learn these cues. After all, they will help if you ever need to move, visit family with your pup, escape a house fire, or admit your dog for surgery at the vet.
What To Teach Your Dog Before Disaster
How many of these does your dog know?
Honey probably does not know that her name is Honey.
But when I say “Honey,” she snaps to attention.
Honey knows that when I call her name, she needs to listen up to hear what I have to say next. It’s a valuable attention-getter.
Yes, many dogs do not know their names.
You’ve seen it. People walking in the park yelling, “Buster, Buuuuuuster, Buster” while their out-of-control dog ignores them.
Does your dog know her name? Wait until she’s calm in the house with no major distractions and call her using a calm voice. What does she do?
If you get no response, it’s time to teach your dog her name.
To Relax While Being Carried
When Honey was a puppy, I laughed when my husband bench-pressed her.
It looked ridiculous.
But it turned out to be surprisingly useful.
On the boat, we have to lift Honey onto the bed and up the cockpit stairs. Sometimes at low tide or in strong winds, Mike will lift Honey onto a short finger pier to keep her safe.
Fortunately, Honey is totally relaxed. She never struggles. At most, she’ll daintily point her toe as we near the bed.
I hope we’ll never have to carry Honey through rushing flood waters. But if we do, she’ll be calm in our arms.
Will your dog?
To Come When She’s Called
There’s no skill we practice more than recall.
Partly because it’s so important for safety. And partly because it’s the skill we ruin the most through our bad behavior.
I regularly practice calling Honey to me when I have pizza, a ball, or something else she’s particularly fond of. Hopefully if we’re ever struggling not to take the cyclone express to Oz and have left Honey’s leash behind in the rush, all those hours of recall practice will pay off.
How likely is your dog able to come when you call? And what if there’s a squirrel or some stinky goose poop in the other direction?
To Rest In A Crate
More hotels and emergency shelters are allowing pets all the time. But only if you bring a crate.
You may not need a crate at home. But you don’t want to wait until your dog needs to be crated before you start training.
Is your dog able to relax in a crate? Or will you need to sit in one with him to keep him relaxed at the vet’s office or a disaster shelter?
To Potty On Different Substrates
If you’ve followed our failure to get Honey to “go” on the boat, you know I’m the last person to advise you on this.
Actually, our experience has only helped me realize how helpful it might be to have a pup who will potty anywhere in an emergency.
If you have to leave your home in a disaster, you’ll be happy to know your pup is willing to use concrete, gravel, oyster shells, or strange grass for their “potty.”
Honey is strictly a grass or gravel girl. But if your dog has this emergency skill, let us know how you trained it.
Ready For A Disaster That Never Comes
What’s the worse thing that happens if you train your dog and the disaster never comes?
You end up with a tighter bond than ever and a well-trained dog.
If I had my choice, I’d much rather have a dog whose training prepares her for a nonexistent disaster than have a disaster with a poorly trained dog.
If your only emergency is watching disaster porn on the news, get off the couch. Grab some treats. Call your dog (if she knows her name; if she doesn’t you know what you need to do).
And start teaching these important cues before disaster strikes.
Your Turn: Have you done any special training to help your dog cope with an emergency? What?
We are pleased to be joining the Positive Pet Training blog hop with Wag ‘n Woof Pets, Tenacious Little Terrier and Travels with Barley. The hop remains open through Sunday. This month’s theme is “September is National Disaster Preparedness Month – how do you use training to prepare your dog for disasters?”, however, you may share any positive pet training story, whether it’s on our theme or not!