Family-Disaster-Dog-Lessons

Friday, March 16, 2012

Lesson 27: Alert to Danger-Part 2


Alert to Danger
Fire,Earthquake,Tornado
Dig up or Wake a Person
Part 2 of 2

Teaching your dog to Alert You to danger


The hidden person pretends to be asleep or unconscious which encourages the dog to wake them or get them to move because to the dog, the person is not acting normal either.

Once your dog learns to associate alerting you when the scene looks abnormal or the warning siren sounds your dog will use its natural instincts and love for you as a member of the pack when they feel danger coming or find you and others in a bad position.

To make a mock earthquake or mudslide, house moving situation alert, the surface your dog stands on must move. To make this happen, one person can hide behind a large chair while the other person pretends to sleep on a bed or in the chair, under a blanket with a toy or treat the dog will want.

When the warning systems sounds the person under the blanket makes a noise with the toy to get the dog’s attention and make the dog dig or try to wake them to get at the toy.

At the same time the other person shakes the chair or table like an earthquake would, this might at first scare the dog so be aware of how hard you move the chair until you see how the dog reacts. It is best to startle the dog slightly so they notice the pretend earthquake.

If you have training courses indoors or outside with space, you can hang a piece of 4 x 8 plywood by chains on each corner to make a floating floor a few inches off the ground. The dog stands on this and a person can move it slightly to give the dog motion.

Be careful using a floating floor because by doing this to much the dog learns how to balance and stand on surfaces that move in usual ways. This is meant to teach a dog to balance and shift its weight but we can use it as a mock earthquake with a little planning.

The floating floor is excellent for agility and rubble working dogs to know but in training them to alert to an earthquake or ground shaking we have to make sure it feels like an earthquake or danger instead of something they are accustom to. 

A little suspense and drama added to the session creates urgency like a real life danger but in a safe way. 

Once the training session is set up you will place your dog in another room where you go to act normal for a few minutes.

When the warning system sounds or you are ready then walk out with your dog loose off leash.

As preplanned, when you and the dog walk out together the person who is hidden squeaks the dog’s toy or calls the dog’s name which gets the dog looking for them as soon as the warning system sounds. Or, when the dog hears its toy or name then can not see the person they realize something is different.

At first let your dog find the person who is under the blankets without you telling the dog a command. You can see by the photo below Willie takes off to look for his toy he heard make noise.


  And he finds the Blankets with a person hidden in the photo below.

Willie asking me what to do next?





Your dog will start looking for the toy or where its name came from, encourage your dog to find the person and get the toy or treat when they reach the hidden person under the blanket. Praise your dog but do not have the person speak to your dog, they should be pretending to be unconscious.


Willie gets his Toy


After your dog “wakes” them up and finds them then they can praise your dog.


Daisy crawls under the covers to the person




Repeating this weekly for a month and then practicing monthly would teach your dog to alert you when they feel danger coming. Always go with your dog to the injured person then your dog learns to take you.


To reinforce your dog's actions to get you and wake you can pretend to be sleeping at the start of a few sessions to allow your dog to wake you. 


Open the door of the room and let your dog out, then lay down like you are sleeping or fell. Let your dog go to the noise of its toy or name to the other person.


When your dog realizes you are not with them like before, and the person they find is not giving them the toy or moving, they will come back to get you. 


Depending on the dog, the person might tell the dog to go get you first and then act injured or sleep again. 


Give your dog a reason to wonder what is going on and they will come back to get you to find out. When they come back to you then get up like they saved you and go save the other person, praise your dog for doing such a great job!


Job well Done!  Daisy gets the Blankets!


Remember the person who is playing injured or under cover makes noise to get the dog to investigate to get a toy or treat but hold back on giving the toy or treat until the dog accomplishes rutting under the covers, digging or alerting to the hidden person.


When your dog digs or paws at the person use a command such as, “dig them out” so if you or another is ever buried in real life you can tell your dog to dig them or you out.


Use different material and locations each time to make a rubble scene or disaster area to train in or your dog will get bored with this game. 


When your dog comes to get you or when you walk out to find the person with your dog ask your dog to “Show You”, get them to bark or paw, nudge or get you up out of bed so they alert you to the danger ahead. 


Always use the commands to associate which action you want. Get your dog to alert you by pretending to sleep and making a toy noise or call their name but do not move until the dog makes you by barking or waking you up. Then say “Good dog, Show me” give them a bit of treat or shake the toy as the warning system goes off or the other hidden person makes a noise. 


Using “Show me” as the command and follow your dog to the other person. Once found then ask your dog to “alert or to dig them out”. 


They can alert when you are awake by sitting down when they take you to a buried person but if you are not with the dog then they will return to you as explained above.


Use the person’s name and hide several people or family members at once to find at the same time. Take your dog to each person and repeat the lesson as you get everybody in the house to wake up and get out.


By using each person in the family’s name your dog learns to go between you and them. You can send your dog from one person to another by name and the dog gets rewarded every time motivating them to act if this happens when you are asleep.


Make this a fun game for the whole family, children can hide in great places that often look like a disaster hit. Take advantage of the opportunity to play hide and seek with your dog and children then in a real emergency the whole family knows what to do.


Teaching your dog to alert to fire and other dangerous odors is done by having the dog come to you when a fire or odor is happening. The fire can be in a large tin can on the patio where you show the dog the fire and have the dog go to another family member when you show them the fire.  You can ask your dog to bark or paw, or sit when they see and smell the fire or any other odor you want to be alerted to.


Again, use every opportunity when there is a fire or the odor present to ask your dog to show you or go get another person. Think up safe ways to have the situation present for mock fire drills or tornado type drills so your dog can associate the two incidents and warn you when they feel danger coming.


Always trust your dog.

Missing Persons