Basic Emergency Training & Life Saving Lessons For Your Dog - Part 1
Teaching our dogs to have good manners, basic good behavior and responding to certain commands is something we almost take for granted; we do it without having to question why it’s important or exactly how important it is. It just is.
But -- there are some lessons that are more important than manners, that can have farther reaching impact than making life more pleasant, that could, one day, possibly save your dog’s life:
- Watch Me!
- Leave it!
- Emergency Recall
How can a simple “Sit” save the day?
Imagine you’re going out the front door. It’s a normal day, you’ve got your hands full, maybe carrying out the garbage, Rocky’s looking out of the window, watching the neighborhood, keeping an eye out for the cat from across the road. You’re in a hurry, it’s time to leave for work and traffic is already picking up.
You feel something brush by your legs and what you see is Rocky dashing past you, headed for the street, focused entirely on the cat that’s been teasing him for the last three months. You call, “Rocky, COME HERE, NOW!” Nope.
Good thing you and Rocky have worked on a hard, fast SIT, proofed it and re-proof it over and over again to the point that it’s automatic. His brain hears SIT and his butt hits the ground.
Rocky’s butt hits the ground just before he gets to the street. Cars whiz past. You can pick up the trash bags you dropped after you’ve got him back in the house -- and you’ve quit shaking. “Sit” saves the day.
“Watch me” is your go-to to head off potential trouble.
You and your three year old Belgian, Bitsy, are going for your evening walk to burn off some of that Malinois energy that’s built up while you were at work, along with that Chinese buffet you had at lunch. The neighbor kid is outside, hanging around on the sidewalk. You know him; you keep your eye on him because he’s the one who throws stuff at Bitsy when he thinks you aren’t watching (like you’d ever leave her in the yard and NOT keep a close eye on her), barks at her from the other side of the fence, and generally torments her whenever he sees a chance. Naturally, Bitsy hates him with all of her Malinois soul. You’ve spoken to his parents about it, and they not only blew you off but started telling the other neighbors that Bitsy’s a dangerous, uncontrollable dog who wants to eat their innocent lamb and everyone in the neighborhood is in danger until she’s seized by animal control and put down. You found out when the couple next to them -- the ones with the little red Pitbull mix that the kid also tries to torment -- warned you. They’ve already put up a six foot privacy fence. Two, actually. The first one was wood and it mysteriously caught fire one night. The new one’s plastic. You can feel Bitsy tense up on the leash as you turn the corner and she sees him.
“Bitsy, WATCH ME.”
She looks up at you, breaking the focus. You shorten the leash, and walk on, reminding her to “WATCH ME” anytime you feel her wanting to focus back on the little jerk. A couple of the other neighbors are barbecuing and see you and Bitsy walk past without so much as a bark, let alone any “dangerous” behavior. She’s focused on you, watching you instead. The neighbors wave at you; one of them walks toward you and your “dangerous” dog and invites you to come sit down on the porch and have a beer. Bitsy gets a hamburger. Medium rare.
If it hasn’t happened yet, consider yourself lucky. Maybe it never will, but chances are you’re going to be out with your dog -- or it could happen in your own yard -- and Chae finds something you’d rather he didn’t, whether it’s an act of nature (something dead from unknown causes or the raccoons got into the trash and left the fried chicken bones they found strewn in the grass when they left in a hurry) or an act of a careless or malicious human. You see Chase start to pick something up in his mouth and before he can chomp down on it or swallow . . . “LEAVE IT!”
You’ve proofed it well, so he drops it, reluctantly, and looks at you like you’ve lost your mind, but he drops it and you get to pick it up and dispose of it so he can’t go back to it and another dog doesn’t find it. And it frustrates the raccoons. Sometimes it frustrates a twisted creep who baits dogs.
It’s an EMERGENCY, get your furry butt back here. Now!
A normal come on command is your go to when Casey’s off leash, and she’s got excellent recall, but you’re not deluded enough to think it’s always going to be one hundred percent, especially under unusual circumstances, like the afternoon you were at the dog park with her, the one with the shallow lake she loves to swim in. You’ve thrown her bumper in the water and she’s headed out to get it and you spot something you’ve never seen there before -- a water moccasin, swimming toward the bumper . . . and Casey. You call her, but in her mind she’s going to come back after she’s retrieved her best beloved from the water. Moccasin bites can be deadly in a very short period of time.
The two of you have worked on emergency recall, you have the secret word that brings her straight to you; she’s learned it in practice but you’ve never had to use it before. You never really thought you would, but here goes -- And it works! You can get another bumper, and this one will probably wash up on the shore for you to find in a few days anyway. In the meantime, you’re telling everyone to be on the lookout and calling the local wildlife agent.