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.
- Invoke a situation that will get your dog to bark, such as knocking on the door. When someone knocks and the dog barks say in a firm commanding voice, “Speak,” and when he/she barks immediately give him/her one treat and lots of praise such as, “Good girl” in an excited voice.
- Repeat this process until you can gradually stop using the door knocking to get your dog to bark. Once the dog has mastered the speak command then he/she is ready to learn the “Quiet” command.
- Place your dog on a leash and give him/her the command to bark. When he/she does, then give the dog one treat.
- Do this several times in a row.
- After 4-5 times of barking, quickly tug on the leash and give the command “Quiet” or “Hush.” When the dog stops barking quickly give him/her three treats in a row. By giving the dog three treats the dog learns that being “quiet” has a higher treat value than bark does.
- Repeat these steps 4-5 times in a row and then take a break making sure to praise and reward the dog for good behavior. Toss around a ball or his/her favorite toy.
- Do this until the dog no longer needs the leash corrections to follow the Quiet command.
- As the dog progresses, stop giving treats for the speak command and give one treat for the quiet command.
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.
- Prong collar: This collar looks mean but I assure you it is safe and will not hurt the dog. It is designed to simulate how a mother dog would correct her pup if she didn’t want the dog doing something by grabbing the fur around the neck and pulling back by the loose skin. A safe and effective alternative to choker collars, it puts even pressure around the neck, about every half inch, pinching the skin in a band. This collar does not apply direct pressure to the trachea so you can train your dog with little or no tugging, jerking, or pulling. (Note: We have and train pit bulls to the best of our ability and this collar has been very effective in teaching them how to not pull us when on the lead and due to their massive size, it is needed.)
- Vibration collars: These collars give momentary burst of pre-measured stimulation to get your dogs attention if he is distracted; it gives electrical stimulation for as long as you hold the button down, up to eight seconds; and page causes the collar to vibrate for non-electrical stimulation. There is often a shock feature on these types of collars as well.
- No- Pull Dog Harness: Self explanatory.
- Basket Style Muzzle: There are some dogs out there that can be unpredictable around strange people so for their safety and your dog’s safety you may consider owning one of these. This high ventilation quality muzzle can be very useful in many situations and everyday use – visits to a vet, traveling, off-leash walks, preventing eating off the ground, yet allow for panting and drinking, providing the ultimate in comfort and safety for both the dog and owner or trainer. Well-fitting, light weight, soft and comfortable yet strong and durable. Safe and non-toxic. The straps are adjustable and won’t stretch. Please measure snout circumference and length for fit.
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.