I've always been a dog person. We had dogs growing up, and now I've got my own. He comes with me almost everywhere I go, and I'd seriously recommend all survivalists consider adopting a dog of their own. Not only are they a great second set of eyes and ears, but they provide companionship and a loyal friend, who will stick by you no matter what.
Trouble is, they need to be trained correctly if you want to get the most out of your dog.
I know that in an emergency, I would never leave my dog behind, and I'm guessing for the vast majority of families out there, they feel the same. But in our article today, I'm going to cover the techniques you can use to train your dog to become an asset when the SHTF.
Because dog's have pretty good instincts. They know when a situation is a little off, or if someone presents a threat. Naturally, they'll bark at intruders, and you'll read story after story about a dog protecting their family members from all sorts of threats.
But barking can also be a danger. Especially if you're trying to stay off the radar or hide, you want your dog to be able to stay quiet on command. The first technique you need to teach is how to speak. Then we'll move on to staying silent.
When training your dog, the key is to practice multiple times a day, for just a few minutes at a time. Any longer than 10 minutes is going to get boring for your dog, and the quality of the training will drop. Start with one technique at a time, and once your dog's mastering each, move on to the next.
The stay command
I'm assuming your dog already knows how to sit, it's one of the most basic commands they should have been taught as a puppy. From here, stay is a simple next step. Once they've successfully "sat," tell them to "STAY" and after they've held the position for a second or two, reward them with a treat. Repeat until they're able to successfully stay in place for as long as required.
The speak command
There isn't really any real trick to this. Start by acting out a scenario that your dog usually barks at. Like a neighbor coming to your front door. Have a friend knock, and as your dog starts barking, say "SPEAK" in a firm and commanding voice. After your dog barks, give them one treat, and congratulate them in your most excited voice. Repeat until you're able to get your dog to bark without having to knock. Once you're done, it's time to master the knock command.
The quiet command
Start this session using the speak command you've taught previously. Giving out one treat for each successful bark. Once you've done this four or five times, say "QUIET" and give a quick tug on their leash. Your dog should stop in a little bit of confusion. Now quickly give three treats, and get very excited. This is to start teaching your dog that being quiet has a much higher treat value than barking does. Continue practicing between speak and quiet until you no longer need the leash. As your dog improves, you can stop giving treats altogether for the speak command, and reward only on quiet.
The ability to carry
This is especially important if you've got a larger dog, by teaching them to carry their own pack they can help contribute to a successful bug-out by carrying some of the families supplies. Just be careful. Even a couple of extra pounds will wear them out fast, so start adding their carry bags when you take them on their daily walks so they get used to both the bag and any additional weight. The more comfortable they are with this whole process, the easier your bug-out is going to be.
To refuse food from strangers
I shouldn't have to remind you that there will be plenty of dangerous people out there once the SHTF. But they've got to get past your dog first, and the most likely way they'll do that is to poison their food. To combat this, you need to teach your dog to only eat from their food bowl, or your hand. It's a long process, and you've got to continually have your friends try to offer your dog food while you dissuade them. Be strict, and use a leash with a sharp "NO" correction until your dog knows the only safe place to eat from is the food you provide.
To attack strangers
This last piece of training is the attack. With the right training, your dog can be an asset to you if you're confronted or attacked. Of course, most dog owners today probably don't need this level of aggression in their dogs, but I believe it's money and time well spent. First you want your dog to be able to speak on command. Wearing an attack glove, tap your dog repeatedly on the nose until they get frustrated and bite to glove. As they do, say "ATTACK" and praise them thoroughly with a treat. Repeat until your dog is able to remember that ATTACK means bite the glove. Then step back, and repeat the command, until your dog will charge and bit the glove on command. The next step is to repeat the command, but without the glove. Instead, use a dummy or a large doll, saying "ATTACK" and pointing to the dummy. Your dog will be confused initially, but soon realize to attack the dummy to get the treats. The final step is to get a neighbor to wear the glove and act as an intruder, where you shout "ATTACK." I'd also recommend practicing the stay command throughout the training, as there may be situations where you want to call your dog off, before they attack.
Of course, training your dog is no easy feat. You'll need a dedicated effort and a patient hand over weeks and months to get them ready to be a real asset for survival. In my opinion, it's worth it. The added value of another pair of ears and eyes can help you sleep far safer at night, and they'll be one companion you can always rely on. Start training your dog to be your survival wingman today.