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If you’ve ever had a dog for a pet, you probably know how great they are. But a dog might become an even more critical member of your family when disaster strikes. If you’re thinking of getting a dog, you might want to consider what kind of dog would be best during a crisis and what you might want to train him or her to do to help your family after the SHTF.
Here are 15 reasons you’ll need a dog after SHTF along with some great dog breeds that can help you in times of disaster.
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A guard dog is an excellent way to protect yourself in an SHTF situation. Dogs can be trained to protect their owners, their homes, or other animals. A dog on alert can protect you from wild animals and even intruders. German Shepherds are known to be very loyal to their owners and will even put themselves between their family and harm.
2. Rodent Control
In a disaster situation, on a farm, or even in the city, rodents can become a real problem. Certain types of dogs, especially those in the terrier family, were originally bred to catch these nasty pests.
Westies, Schnauzers, and Jack Russel Terriers are great dogs for this job, too. Having a dog around to seek and destroy rodents that can contaminate your food supply or injure your animals will help you stay healthy.
3. Search and Rescue
Dogs have a keen sense of smell and can help locate people who are lost in the woods, missing children, and even lost animals. Bloodhounds are notorious for being able to track a scent, but other breeds of dog can do it, too.
Looters, thieves, and wild animals will be much less likely to pilfer your property and goods if you have a dog around. The noise of a barking dog will keep pilferers looking for an easier, less noticeable target.
Any dog with a propensity to bark can work, but a dog with a deep, loud bark might be best. Both beagles and border collies are known for their big voices.
5. Sound the Alarm
In a real SHTF situation, your professional alarm system may not work. But don’t worry, your dog can let you know when someone is around that shouldn’t be.
A dog can sound an alarm to let you know if there are intruders, predatory animals, and even fire or other potential problems. Beagles and bloodhounds, and even small feisty pups like chihuahuas can alert you quickly.
6. Find Food
A good hunting dog can point you in direction of food, from deer to duck to other animals. They can help you locate animals that have already been hunted. They may also be able to sniff out other food sources such as fruit or berries. Labs, beagles, and springer spaniels make great hunting companions.
7. Herd Animals
Dogs have been trained for many years to help with herding animals including cows, sheep, chickens, and goats. From Australian Heelers to adorable corgis, these dogs have a long history of keeping track of livestock. They can round them up and bring them into the barn for the night or drive them out to pasture in the morning.
8. Protect Animals
Livestock Guardian Dogs, or LGDs, are trained to live with their herd and protect them from predators and wild animals. A well-trained LGD will fight off everything from raccoons to foxes and even bears in order to protect their animal herd. Great Pyrenees and Anatolian Shepherds are often used as LGD’s because they are smart, loyal, and very trainable.
9. Assistance with Tasks
There are great reasons that dogs such as labs are used to assist people with disabilities. They can learn to do specialized assignments that help people. For example, some dogs are able to pick up small items such as papers or coins off the floor and hand them to their owners. These abilities make dogs great helpers for all kinds of tasks.
Dogs, especially Labradors, can be trained to:
- Open and close doors and cabinets
- Fetch specific items such as tools
- Turn handles
- Move things
10. Deliver Items or Messages
When the SHTF, you may lose cell phone service. How will you communicate with people back at the homestead when you’re out hunting? You can send your dog.
If your dog knows the way, he or she can carry messages back and forth between two parties. German Shepherds, Dobermans, and Airedales were used in war times as messenger dogs and there is no reason they can’t do this today.
11. Seek Help in Emergencies
St. Bernard dogs are well trained to help people in emergencies and life-threatening situations. They can carry first aid supplies, assist the wounded, and go for help when they find a person in trouble.
12. Detect Health Problems
Dogs are being utilized more and more to detect health problems and can even stop some medical emergencies before they become serious. A trained dog might be able to sense a seizure or diabetic shock before it happens.
They can sniff out life-threatening allergens and possibly be able to smell viruses in people who may not even show symptoms. Australian shepherds, poodles, and labs are just some of the breeds that can be trained to detect health issues.
No one wants to get lost in the dark, but if you are, your dog might be able to guide you home anyway. Not only do dogs have a great sense of smell, they have better vision in the dark than people do.
Dogs like German Shepherds and Golden Retrievers are often trained to guide people who are blind through cities and towns and can lead their owners to places such as home or work on command.
It can get awfully cold outside, and when SHTF, you may have trouble heating your home. On the other hand, if you are lost in the woods or trapped in a vehicle in the cold, your dog can help you keep warm. Siberian Huskies and other cold-loving dogs are furry bundles of warmth that can help you stay warm by snuggling with you on a cold night.
15. Entertainment and Exercise
Playing with a dog and walking a dog are great forms of exercise and entertainment. Although play may not be seen as a survival skill, having some entertainment on long, lonely days can bring joy to an otherwise bleak situation. Golden Retrievers are great family dogs that love to play and young labs have plenty of energy to run.
Bonus Reason: Boost Morale
Pets of all kinds, especially dogs, are known for boosting morale. Studies have shown that caring for and petting a dog can help reduce stress and encourage positive emotions.
Since SHTF can be a very trying time emotionally, a dog who can help you feel better is worth having. Feeling hopeful and having emotional grit is a key part of survival, and having a loving, happy dog of almost any breed as a companion can help you do just that.
Finding the right dog breed for your family is a very personal matter. There really is no one-size-fits-all approach to picking the right dog for SHTF. However, any dog that suits your family well can be trained to some extent and will support your family and boost morale.
A good dog isn’t just another mouth to feed when SHTF, but a vital part of your family’s survival and well-being.
What to read next: Top 10 Dog Breeds For Preppers
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