Do you have dogs? Have they learned much beyond the basic commands like sit, stay, and lie down? If not, they’re more of a liability in a survival situation than a help. Ideally, every family will teach their canine companions the following training commands for dogs, to ensure they are an asset in any survival situation.
Even small dogs can be helpful if you are stuck in a survival situation, but the larger dogs will be even better. Bigger breeds are more threatening, visually, and can carry their own bug out bags. You can also take advantage of their noses, no matter what size.
What survival commands should your dog know? Here are some of the best choices:
1. Watch Me
Teach your dog to keep his eyes on you and pay attention. You should be making good eye contact with this one. It’s a fairly simple command, just hold a treat up toward your face and when the dog looks at you in the eyes, say, “Watch me.” This command is useful in a survival situation because it will get your dog to pay attention and focus on you. Once he’s looking, you can begin to give more commands.
You never know when you might need your dog to bark for you. It can come in handy in a number of situations. For example, if you are trapped somewhere, or lost, having your dog bark can help rescuers find you.
In many situations, it will be helpful to have a quiet dog with you. If you are hiding from hostiles, for example, you definitely want your dog to shut up, rather than alert to where you are. This command is actually very helpful in regular life, too. Who wants a dog that barks nonstop at everything? Teach your pup to shut up and you’ll benefit if things go south.
Dangerous situations occur all the time in a disaster and you need to know that your dog will stay put if you tell him to. This command should be in every dog’s memory bank and should be so ingrained that it will be an automatic response if you tell him to stay.
To teach your dog to stay, try this training resource from Purina.
If things are bad around you, it’s essential to have a dog that won’t run off, even without a leash. Train your canine pal now to stick close with the heel command and you’ll ensure he will follow you through thick or thin. This is a pretty basic command, much like stay, but a very important one. Here’s how to teach the command:
We’ve all seen those videos where dogs will sit patiently with a plate of steak in front of them and not touch it. Ever wonder how that was done? By teaching your dog the command wait. It ensures your pet will leave something alone when you use it. The command also helps prevent animals from running through doors or into houses and streets that may not be safe. It’s not the same as stay, since you are just telling them to hold off for a minute.
Here’s a good resource for training your dog to wait.
7. Settle Down
Need your dog to calm down and curl up in his bed or on the ground? This is the command for it. It’s a good one for when you’re bugging out with your pets and need to camp for the night. Telling your dog to settle down can also be useful when you’re welcoming someone new to the camp or home.
To teach your dog this command, just reward him when he settles down on his own. Give a treat after saying, “settle down” when you see him curl up in bed. Most dogs will quickly pick up the meaning and will start to do this in order to please you and get the treat.
This may seem like a pretty basic command, but it can be so much more. Teach your dog to bring you things and you’ll find that they are so much more helpful in a disaster situation. Imagine telling your dog to bring you a bottle of water if you’re stuck under something? It could save your life. Here’s how to teach that.
Search dogs need specialty training, but it’s actually something you can do right from home. The better your dog is at searching, the more helpful he’ll be in a disaster situation. Imagine your family gets separated for some reason and your child is off somewhere. Having a dog that can quickly sniff out where your little one has wandered off to could save a life.
This is an excellent resource to learn how to teach dogs to track and search.
Other Survival Skills Your Dog Should Learn
Some of the skills I’m not including here because they tend to require very careful handling and training. For example, teaching a dog to bite or attack on command is very useful in some situations, but if you mess it up, you could end up with an aggressive dog.
You may also want to teach:
- Hand signals (for silent commands)
- Follow (get the dog to follow without heeling)
- Guard (guard a specific thing or person)
- Carrying items
- Hauling a sled or wagon
What training commands for dogs do you consider essential for a SHTF scenario?