Clicker Training 'Stop, drop and roll' fire drill Trick for dogs
How to Fire Drill Train Your Dog
Every year, half a million dogs are affected by a fire, and nearly fifty thousand canine companions die in house fires. Tragically, sometimes the dog who barks and wakes the family becomes afraid to leave the burning house and perishes from smoke asphyxiation. It's important to train your dog how to escape a fire, just like you would any other family member. With some thoughtful training and safety preparation, you can be ready to protect your pooch if a blaze should strike.
Training Your Dog for Fire Emergencies
Socialize your dog to deal with stress.Before you even start specific fire safety training, it will help a lot if you can introduce your dog to a wide variety of people, places, noises, and experiences. The more your pet encounters new and different things, the more likely they’ll be to be able to deal with stressful new situations, like a fire.
- This means that you should make a conscious effort to introduce your dog to a new environment, from a park to a parking lot, every week or so. Keep them on a leash, so that you can control their movement. Reward them with treats and praise every time they remain calm and observant when facing a new situation.
- Be sure to go at your dog’s pace. If your pooch responds badly to particular setting, lavish them with treats and praise until they feel at ease. Keep returning to that setting until they automatically feel at ease with it.
- To ensure they’re prepared to face emergency situations, it’s a good idea to work your way up to environments with a lot of distractions and loud noises, like an outdoor concert, festival, or sporting event, as part of their socialization.
Acclimate them to the sound of your smoke alarm.The blaring of your alarm is likely to be startling to your dog, so it’s a good idea to familiarize them with it in advance. That way, they’re far less likely to panic in the moment.
- Put your dog on a leash, and then press your smoke alarm to make it go off.
- Give your dog treats while they listen to the sound. If they panic, cower, and/or bark, hold them firmly on the leash and speak to them in a happy, reassuring voice until they calm down enough to give them treats.
- Turn the alarm on and off a few times, increasing the duration each time. Keep standing with your dog and giving them treats every time it sounds until they’re at ease with the noise.
- For maximum benefit, practice this exercise a couple times a week for a few weeks before moving on to the next step.
Practice calling them to an exit.Next, have someone else press the smoke alarm while you stand at an exterior door. Once the alarm goes off, start calling your dog. Keep calling until they come to you.
- Use whatever phrase you normally use for recall, such as your dog’s name or “Here, girl!”
- This is also good training for you because it will indicate how loudly you need to call to be heard over the alarm.
- Be sure to use a happy voice. Keep in mind that you should also strive to use a calm, happy voice to call your dog when in an actual crisis situation.
Reward them when they come.As soon as they arrive where you are, give your dog praise and a big treat. It should be a treat they really love, like some lunchmeat or a bone or several smaller treats, to impress on them the value of coming to you when they hear the smoke alarm.
Put them on a leash and lead them outside.Keep an extra leash by all exterior exits for easy access in case of an emergency. Dogs can easily panic and run away once they’re outside, so it’s best to have them under control as you leave your house.
- Once you’re outside and away from the house, reward them with more treats.
Repeat this exercise for all potential fire exits.You want your dog to learn to listen for your voice and identify which door you’re waiting at when they hear the smoke alarm go off. Once they get the hang of meeting you at one exit, move on to another exterior door.
- The treats you give them when they find you should offer a strong motivation to get the right door.
Repeat the drill often.Your dog’s fire training will only take a firm hold if you repeat it at regular intervals. Try doing a family fire drill once a month with your dog, so that you can be confident everyone is prepared for any potential blazes.
Keeping Your Dog Safe During a Fire
Stay calm.Your behavior will set the tone for your household and its pets. Dogs are especially susceptible to catching your panic, which can make them act erratically and put them in harm’s way. Strive to maintain a calm voice and manner, even if you’re feeling stressed and fearful.
Put someone on dog duty.Before a fire takes place, assign one member of your household to look after your pet. That way, you can be sure to account for your dog while avoiding any confusion that could delay your evacuation.
- This should also be the person who runs the fire drill training with your dog.
Leave a door open and call back.If you’re forced to exit your burning house without your dog, be sure to keep the door you left through open. Then, call back to them from outside it.
- Remember to grab your dog’s extra leash by the door as you exit.
- If you’ve run the fire drill enough times, your dog should know to listen for your voice at an exit when they hear the smoke alarm go off.
- If you left through a door that your dog does not normally exit the house through, be sure to also open their regular exit.
Check your dog’s hiding places.Before an emergency occurs, take time to notice where your pet goes when they are feeling anxious or stressed. If you cannot find your pet during a fire alarm, check those spots if they’re safely accessible.
- If they’re not safely accessible, notify the rescue workers of where your pet might be.
Keep your dog safely away from the house and street.Once your dog is outside, be sure that they are secured. Either store them in a locked crate or carrier out of harm’s way or have them on a leash and make sure that someone in your household is responsible for holding your pet.
- If you prefer the crate or carrier option, be sure that you store one near an accessible exterior door, for instance in a mud room or your garage.
Practicing Pet Fire Safety
Maintain functional smoke alarms.Every floor of your house or apartment should have a working smoke alarm installed on a ceiling. Be sure to test them and replace their batteries regularly.
- It’s a good idea to replace the batteries in your smoke alarms twice a year.
- If you’re often away from your home, it may be worth investing in a monitored smoke alarm system. That way, any time a smoke alarm is triggered in your absence, a service would immediately dispatch first responders to check on your house and rescue your dog if need be.
Put up pet alerts.Use stickers placed on a window near your front door to notify first responders about any dogs or other pets living in your home. The sticker should state what kind of pets and how many of each you have in the family.
- The ASPCA provides these window-cling stickers at no charge in their free pet rescue packs, which you can order online.
- You may also obtain pet alert stickers in person from your local firehouse.
Be sure their ID is current.Things are chaotic during a fire. In case your dog is lost in the melee, be sure to keep their microchipping and/or ID tags up to date with your current contact information.
- Microchips correspond to an electronic database with owner information. Be sure to apprise your vet and/or the company where you purchased your microchip of any updates to your address or phone number.
Consider a doggy door.Creating a doggy door that leads into a fenced yard is a good way to ensure that your pet can get out of the house in the event of a fire, even when you’re not there.
- If you crate your dog during your absence, it’s wise to keep the crate near an exterior door, so that they can be easily rescued in the event of a house fire.
- If you have multiple people in your household, it’s wise to do regular fire drills together, not just with your dog. Get your dog’s training down and then practice it all together.
- The best defense against a fire emergency is good preparation.
- Do not rush in and attempt to rescue your dog if they do not come when you call. Wait for a first responder with proper equipment to do
- Dogs can actually cause house fires if you don’t take the proper precautions. Never leave your pet unattended around exposed wires or an open flame, like a candle or stove top. If your pet can reach the knobs on your stove top, lock them out of the kitchen when you’re away.
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