There are two kinds of people in this world: people who think nothing bad will ever happen and people like me.
You know, waiting for a disaster to occur any minute.
Luckily, I’ve taught my dog Honey the emergency word every dog needs to learn. Just in case.
A Cue For An Emergency
If Honey were a collie, I might have taught her the cue: “Go to the sheriff’s office and tell them we have a fire.”
Or perhaps, “Someone has fallen overboard. Go below and bark for help on the radio.”
But since Honey is not Lassie, I taught her a one word emergency cue: “Wait.”
I’ve never had to use the cue in an actual emergency. But I have used it in less desperate situations. And I feel confident Honey will listen to it if I really need her to.
Teaching A Dog To Wait
I’m a stinky trainer.
I just make stuff up as I go along. And thank the universe that I have a smart dog who can learn despite having a rotten teacher.
But here’s how I taught Honey the cue, “wait.”
We walked Honey in a small city with sidewalks every day. Honey never had to walk beside me unless I asked her to. So she’d arrive at the curb ahead of me.
If I sensed from her body language that she was going to continue walking into the street, I’d make the turn instead.
It didn’t take long before Honey started slowing down and looking at me when we approached a curb.
When she looked at me, I said “wait” and put my hand flat in front of her nose. When I was ready to move forward, I used the release word “okay.”
Now that we travel by boat and walk Honey in many different places, “wait” has become even more important.
It’s the cue I rely on when we’re trying to cross a multi-lane highway and have to pause briefly in the center suicide lane while we’re waiting for a break in the traffic.
What Does “Wait” Mean
You might be asking yourself how telling Honey to wait is different from asking her to sit or lie down and stay. After all, Honey knows those cues as well, right?
Well, yes. For me, “wait” means don’t move forward until I give you another cue.
I don’t expect her to sit (although she often does) or lie down. I just expect her to wait until I give her more directions.
I also don’t expect Honey to wait for long.
If I need her to sit for a long time until I can do something else, I ask her to sit and stay.
“Wait” is a cue that says I need her to pause for just a moment.
Wait At The Dog Park
Dog parks are not a good fit for every dog. But Honey plays well with other dogs and likes time to run safely off leash.
At the dog park, “wait” is a great cue to have.
I tell Honey to wait while I’m taking off her harness. I don’t want her dashing off with it dangling so it can tangle her up with another dog.
I also ask Honey to wait when I see new dogs entering a dog park.
Nothing will lead to disaster faster than a bunch of dogs rushing a new dog in the tight area around a gate.
Telling Honey to wait while a new dog gets inside keeps her (and other dogs) more safe.
Teaching Your Dog To Wait
My method for teaching Honey to wait worked because of her nature, which is to look to me when she is uncertain.
It would not have worked with my dog Shadow who led with her nose.
So I went looking for videos and instructions about teaching a dog to wait. I didn’t like what I saw.
If you taught your dog to wait by another method, please share in the comments.
Because “wait” is an important cue. And every dog should know it. Because you never know when you’ll need it in an emergency.
Don’t Wait To Vote For Charleston
It’s the final round of the Best City For Pet Travelers brackets at Go Pet Friendly. Update: Charleston beat Colorado City as the 2016 Best City For Pet Travelers.
Why should you vote for Charleston over Colorado City?
Well, what kind of place do you want to vacation with your pet?
A mellow Southern town with friendly people and warm weather?
Or a hard-driving city filled with Type-A Olympic competitors? A city that is below freezing several months of the year. And a city that refuses to allow marijuana to be sold in its borders despite the state legalizing it for recreational use (now we know where the uptight Coloradans live).
Yeah, I thought so.
Give me a sunny spot to dig my toes in my sand, toss a toy to Honey, and a nice restaurant to end the day and I’m happy.
Give me Charleston, any time.
So join me and our new Charleston friends, the Groovy Goldendoodles, in supporting our new favorite town.
This post is part of the Positive Pet Training Blog Hop, hosted by Cascadian Nomads,Tenacious Little Terrier and Rubicon Days. This month’s theme is training for safety/emergencies for National Pet First Aid Awareness Month. The hop happens on the first Monday of every month, and is open for a full week – please join us in spreading the word about the rewards of positive training!
Your Turn: What emergency cue have you taught your dogs?