Can I Train My Dog to Be Prepared for a Hurricane?
The short answer is yes! In fact, training your dog to be okay with certain tasks can help make the hurricane experience much more pleasant whether or not you are evacuating. Not only will it make a huge difference in the stress level of your fur baby but yours as well. Knowing something will cause our pets stress and that they might react poorly to it as a result prevents us from being able to make decisive actions easily. Being able to implement the following training routines for your dog will help increase the safety of you and your pet.
1. Crate training
In evacuation situations where you cannot take your pet with you, you might elect to keep them in a pet shelter for the time being. In these cases, it’s a good idea to get your dog accustomed to being okay with spending long periods of time in a crates/kennels as these are the safest way to house pets during a storm in a shelter. To get started with this training, feed your pet exclusively in the crate, preferably when their entire body is in the crate. Then start closing the door of the crate and leaving them in there for progressively longer periods with lots of positive reinforcement to encourage them along the way. Then make it a habit for them to sleep in the crate at nighttime. It’s important to never force them to stay in the crate against their will or use the crate as a “time-out” corner. You want them to associate the crate with good things.
2. Car rides
Even if you do not plan on evacuating, there might be a situation where you will have to make a last-minute escape. Hurricanes have been known to change courses causing thousands of families to change their plans last minute. Some dogs are great during car rides while others need some help. Start small by just having your pet comfortable in the car while the engine is off using treats, toys, or pets (whatever has the highest reward value to your dog) as positive reinforcement. Then turn on the engine while continuing to reinforce positively. Then start with short rides in the neighborhood or down the street. You can then slowly increase the length of the rides. Go at your dog’s pace and when you notice them becoming uncomfortable that is the time to stop. This training can take just a day or a couple of weeks, so patience is key!
The trick to training for a hurricane is getting your dog comfortable enough with the training that they will be able to do it amidst some chaos. For some dogs (especially those who are very food motivated) the reward of the treat surpasses their feelings about what is happening in their environment. In these cases, they listen well. However, some dogs are especially nervous during storms. It’s difficult to explain to pets that the world isn’t ending and that the rain will stop. They are often confused and scared, and as much as we want to, we can’t console them as we do with people. In these cases, it’s a good idea to talk to your vet about calming supplements and medication.
We hope these tips were helpful. At AJS, we are committed to helping the Tampa Bay area and beyond move or level their assets to benefit them as well as protecting your establishment from flooding. Especially during this time of year, safety is at the top of the list of everyone’s priority. Let us give you peace of mind that your home or business will be protected during hurricane season. Give us a call to schedule a free consultation and learn how moving can benefit you!