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Editors Note: Dogs offer so much in the way of security and companionship that I would advocate seriously considering adopting one for your own family if you have the temperament and lifestyle that would support a dog. In a survival situation having a dog could be a great advantage, but a fully trained and obedient dog is critical. The article below from Cari Schofield covers some important training considerations.
There are millions of people out there who would never leave their dogs behind in any emergency situation if they can help it. That is wonderful and that sort of love and loyalty is to be commended. So I ask, why not take it one step further and train your dog to benefit you in a survival situation?
Dogs have natural survival instincts already in them so there are some things you do not have to worry about. It has been my experience that the majority of dogs can assess a dangerous situation and let the owners know by barking at the threat. Teaching your dog to speak, or to be quiet, is not as hard as you think and can mean the difference between life and death in a survival situation. If you do not want someone to know your location then being able to keep your dog quiet on command is of the utmost importance. If you are in a situation where you need to be found then having a dog that can alert others on command is very important.
No matter what you are training your animal to do you must always remain patient when training. Dogs can sense aggravation and may become scared or timid. This is not what you want. You want training time to be fun. Most dogs live to make their owners happy and are more responsive and willing to do what is asked with positive reinforcement training.
In order to teach your dog to be quiet, you must also teach your dog to speak. The two commands go hand in hand. For this reason we begin by teaching the dog to speak. Practice these steps 1-2 times a day for about 5-10 minutes. Anything longer than that usually results in boredom and then is no longer fun for your dog.
Whenever possible, your dog will try to get away with as much as possible. If you start to slack off with obedience practice, your dog will soon forget all the commands you’ve taught him. It is better to practice five minutes a day than to randomly do it every few weeks. When your dog behaves perfectly on a consistent basis, then you can start to get a little lazy. But if you notice a bit of attitude or stubbornness, get right back into a routine of practicing obedience before things go too far and are harder to fix later. Here are a few tips on how to practice obedience with your dog.
- Don’t repeat commands more than twice.
- Use his name first, then the command.
- Take your time. Most dogs, especially young ones, are already in an excited state. Teach them to relax and slow down.
- Do obedience with the dog on your left side, not in front or behind you. By having him in a consistent position, you can be more aware if he’s creeping ahead or lagging behind. It’s also easier to correct a dog that is at your side, rather than being slightly ahead or behind you.
- Praise your dog when he is in the correct position, even if you had to physically help him into the position.
- Use a low, firm tone of voice.
- Pick a release command, such as “Okay!” to let him know when he is done with a command.
There should be a clear separation between giving a command and giving a correction. Give the command. Wait three seconds. Then correct him, if necessary. If your dog waits until you start to give a correction before doing the command, follow through with the correction anyway. Otherwise you will continually have to start to correct before the dog performs the command, rather than the dog automatically performing the behavior when he hears the command.
There are training tools you can use to help you in your journey to having a well trained dog. I have listed some examples below.
When there is a natural disaster hitting such as a tornado or hurricane the last thing you want to be doing is calling/searching for your dog. Obedience training can eliminate this so that your dog stays with you unless told otherwise. I encourage all pet owners to think about what all your dog is capable of learning that can benefit your safety and theirs.
Note: Here is an amazingly affordable dog back pack that will help lighten your load by allowing them to carry their one dog supplies.