Ever notice how the person who remains calm and decisive during a crisis instantly attracts the eyes of all involved? Well that goes double for dogs. The inveterate cue seeker that your canine is, her demeanor is going to mirror yours in many ways. That’s why our 3-step canine fire drill exercise is as much for you as it is for your friend. 

Step one: Bring the noise. Breathing in smoke should scare your dog, the sound of the smoke alarm shouldn’t. You might think that a good sonic shock is exactly what your pet needs in the event of a fire, but the laws of habituation suggest that unfamiliar sounds may cause anxiety in animals, potentially causing inaction when they need to act most. 
  • The next time your dog is occupied outside, toggle the test button on one of your smoke alarm units and use your phone’s voice memo app to record the sound.
  • Choose a relaxed moment, perhaps after a twilight walk when the house is winding down for the evening. Have a few treats in your pocket and sit down next to your dog. Make sure your smoke alarm audio file is at a lower volume, and hit play. With the alarm sounding, quickly make your way to the back door (or preferred evacuation point) and call your dog. Reward quick obedience with a treat and a “good boy” and pause the recording. Repeat the process a couple times, bringing the volume up each time.  
Habituating your companion to the sound of the smoke alarm reduces the chaos factor in your pet’s mind in the event of an emergency. 

Step two: Pretend there’s a fire. Do you have a family evacuation plan? Now’s the time to share it with your furry friend. 
  • Pick a time when it’s natural for you pet to be away from the door, perhaps in a favorite corner. Trigger the smoke alarm and call your dog from your preferred exit place. Be sure to speak loudly with an urgent tone. When your pet comes, give her clear verbal affirmation while you put her on a leash or in a crate and proceed with your evacuation. 
  • Here you may want to train your pup to use emergency-exit stairs, cross the street safely or join a crowd of people on a neighbor's lawn, depending on your living situation. Like any training exercise, though, the key is lots of treats and verbal affirmation. For best results repeat monthly - when you change your smoke alarm batteries!
Step three: Prepare for the worst. What pet stuff will you want on-hand in the event of a house fire? Have you developed an escape plan for your pet when he’s home alone? 
  • Consider putting together a dog disaster kit and putting it in an accessible place outside the house, like a garage or at a neighbor’s house.  The kit can include food, water, meds, health records, vet or shelter contact information, recent photos, toys, bedding, and extra leash, collar and tags.  
  • Giving keys and instructions to a trusted neighbor can be a powerful life insurance policy for your pet. Lastly, consider getting a “pet onboard” sticker for the entryway windows of your home. This will help emergency responders quickly assess the situation.
Preparing your pet for a house fire is not only a safeguard against disaster, it’s a great way to extend your pet’s training and enhance the bond of trust that ensures security and harmony at home. Happy Fire Prevention Month!

Did you know? Our own grassroots fire safety initiative is celebrating its ten year anniversary this November. The Project Breathe™ Program is a community-based critical pet care initiative that has donated thousands of pet oxygen masks to fire departments and first responders since 2006. Driven entirely by Invisible Fence® Brand’s devoted network of dealers, the Project Breathe™ Program has been a force for fire safety and effective first-response in pet communities across U.S. and Canada. 

If you’d like to participate, contact your local dealer.

 

Tags: Behavior, Breathe, Dogs, Emergency, Forever, Home, Project, Response, Safety, Tips, Training


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