What would you do in an emergency?
Do you know what to do in an emergency or have you even thought about it? Do you know how to give First Aid to your dog? What would you do if there was a fire in your home? How about a flooding, or what if you become unwell or even had an accident while travelling with your dog?
Every day of the week, somebody, somewhere, will be caught up in an event that seriously impacts their lives, but have you considered your dogs or other animals in the event of an emergency?
It’s the middle of the night and your smoke detector goes off – you do have a smoke detector, right? Have you thought about your escape plan? Who is going to wake everybody up and make sure they are safely out of the property? The advice given has always been – get out, call the fire service and stay out. Now most of us will see our dogs as members of our families, they are like our children in many cases, and would you leave them behind? Human nature is such that there is a fair chance that you will not, and even possibly return into the building to rescue them. Even if they live in a kennel in the garden or in a kennel complex, have you ever thought what you would do in the event of a fire or other emergency?
Today, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are cheap and easily available – these will provide an early warning and will be your watchdog while everybody else is sleeping, including your dogs. The early warning they provide will give you the time to react and get everybody, including your dogs, to safety.
To have the best chance of getting everybody out safely, you need to think about, and prepare for it, in advance. The first time to be thinking about what to do in an emergency, is not when you are involved in one!
So, this month I am going to look at a few simple things we could consider doing and ways to prepare for this and how we can help our dogs with a little pre-planning.
Firstly, just like behaviour problems, prevention is better than cure. Do you have a nightly or exit routine to make sure electrical equipment is turned off, doors are closed, cigarettes are extinguished, fire guards are in place, etc?
Then, as part of the pre-planning, think about things like: Who will call the emergency services? Do you live in a difficult to find location? How could you make it easier for the emergency services to find you? Who is going to be responsible for doing what, if they hear the alarm operate? Can you open your exit door without having to find keys? The last thing you want is to get to the exit door only to find out that the keys are in a different room. Then, once you have decided what needs to be done, practise it.
If you would like more information on escape plans and general fire safety, contact your local Fire and Rescue Service who will be more than happy to help out.
So, I have briefly looked at planning, but what about your dogs and other pets? What if today something happened, who would look after your dogs? Who would you call in the middle of the night – are they available 24/7? Who would you call next if they were not available? Do you have trusted kennels, vets and friends you could call? Once you have thought about this, make sure you have the phone numbers easily accessible – mine are stored on my mobile phone. Just thinking about these now, will save you time and be one less stress if something was to happen.
I would consider having a small bag handy, you may even want to have it close to where your dog sleeps. You could have in it a pet first aid kit, or if you want to be super prepared, small animal oxygen masks that fit the muzzles of dogs.
Make sure you have a selection of dog leads handy, if you don’t have collars on your dogs, keep slip leads available. I am not a fan of slip leads, as to me they are just another type of noose and it breaks my heart to see dogs choking for breath on the end of a lead, but in the case of an emergency, better that than dogs running panicked into the house or escaping when outside. You could always switch to a collar/harness as soon as you can, or better still train your dog to walk on a loose lead. It’s always a great idea to keep a correctly sized muzzle at home – these are super useful in case the dog is injured or is not people friendly, it will provide a level of safety and management that will protect you and the dog. As the muzzle is likely to be for short duration use, the soft material muzzles are brilliant. Ideally pre-train your dog to wear a muzzle as this can reduce the stress to your dog in what is likely to already be a stressful situation.
I covered muzzles extensively in previous months, but if you want some help to muzzle train your dog, there are some great videos and websites available, or better still, contact a professional trainer who will go through this with you.
The emergency bag could also contain: one of the body wraps that are used for fear and anxiety, contact phone numbers, treats, collapsible water bowl etc. These are just a few ideas, but you could easily expand it to suit your needs.
So, up until now I have looked at an event in the home, but what if you own a kennel complex with multiple dogs, have you ever thought about what to do? What if you were suddenly taken ill – how would people know you had a dog living with you at home? A simple idea that may get around this issue would be to carry some alert information in a wallet or purse, this could contain contact information and an address. Just a little preparation can make such a massive difference and I hope you will never need to use it, but if you do, it will help you so much.
Should the worst ever happen, no matter the issue or event that you are caught up in, having a broadly socialised and well trained dog will certainly help make things easier. At Puppy Stars, our basic foundation class is centred around preparing puppies for all manner of life experiences, as well as basic obedience exercises and it is not unusual to see people wearing all manner of silly hats and clothing during class. In fact, I encourage them to bring something new each week.
Regular readers of my articles will know how much importance I place on socialisation, and preparing us and our dogs for life’s emergencies is just another one. A little preparation now can save a lot of stress and heartache if the unfortunate was to happen and hopefully prevent it from becoming a disaster.
Reproduced with kind permission of Dog World Magazine.