Is it possible to train our adult dog to be useful in an emergency situation?

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We have a smart and wonderful dog, she is about 5 years old (the shelter did not know her exact age). She is part German Shepherd. She has been with our family for 4 years.

My sister recently fell down the stairs at night and she couldn’t see for a bit. She called our dog to come to her to either guide her or hopefully bark and wake someone up, but she didn’t really do much of anything. Even though my sister’s head was hurt, our dog thought she wanted to play.

Are there little things we can start teaching our dog so that in an emergency she might be of some simple help? We taught her not to bark when she was first with us, is it wise to "un-teach" that trait?

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    4 Responses to “Is it possible to train our adult dog to be useful in an emergency situation?”

    1. encouraging_angels says:

      You can keep that trait and teach her only to bark when neccessary. You can teach an old dog new tricks.

    2. a gal and her dog says:

      If you teach her to bark on command and stop on command, it shouldn’t be a problem. You can also let her bark a few times when someone’s at the door or something (to alert you to danger) and that could help.

      You could find a trainer that works with service dogs to get some ideas. Good luck!

    3. smmastiff says:

      the best trick you can teach your dog is to go get the phone ,,
      I tough my dog to do this by first of all teaching it to hold something on command ,, I would take a stick wave it about saying take it as soon as the dog grabbed it I would give the dog a treat , I gradually held it closer to the ground saying take it and then eventually placed it on the ground then on tables etc , once the dog will do this change it to a old phone receiver and start from scratch saying take phone . . just KEEP BUILDING ON IT UNTIL THE DOG WILL GET THE PHONE,, CHECK OUT SOME CLICKER TRAINING WEB SITES FOR SOME OTHER METHODS OF TEACHING.
      ANOTHER HELP FULL TRICK IT TO TEACH THE DOG TO DRAG YOU IF YOU GRAB ITS COLLAR WHILE YOU ARE SITTING ON THE FLOOR

    4. Lady M says:

      If she has been there for so long she likely knows each person in the house by the name most commonly used (mommy and daddy may replace actual names or sissy etc.) Teach her to go get people by name.

      Tell her for example
      Spot, wheres mommy? go get mommy!
      Have mommy call her from another room
      When she comes to mommy, treat her and reverse it sending her back to get who ever sent her after mommy.
      Always do this very excitedly, always treat and praise, food treats, a special toy, what ever the dog really likes. Get a special treat just for this so it keeps the excitement up. Sliced baked chicken breast works great for most dogs.

      Once she gets the idea you can heighten the ‘fun factor’ for her by hiding from her instead of calling her to you. Make sure she has a firm understanding of the names used and that she is to go to the person named, then add the hiding from her. Start with just being in another room and telling her go get mommy! (you can use find mommy or what ever your comfortable with but everyone should use the same word/phrase) Walk with her to a room door like the person will be in it, let her look and then go to the next room. When the dog gets to the right room and sees the person the person should tell her what a good girl she is and give her the treat. (good girl should have been used from the begining or another phrase when she came and you treated). After enough repeats she should go from room to room looking for the person. Once she reliable does this you can make it a bit harder by stepping inside a closet or bathroom out of sight at the door, hide behind the bed or under it, make her really search but dont get her too frustrated. If she shows signs of stopping make a noise like a cough so she will walk around the bed, look under it etc.

      Eventually you want to work the treats down if possible to random rewards when she does it and exuberant praise only the rest of the time (always give exuberant praise!)

      Dogs can be taught to find someone by name and can also be taught to search room for strangers, they can be taught to alert the person they go after by pulling on a sleeve or a bark, putting a foot on them etc. Find what behaviors she offers and work with those as they will be most effective the fastest. Dogs can be taught to bring objects, the outline above for the phone is a good example and they can be taught to physically drag a person. The key is patience, reading the dog, keeping it fun and exciting for the dog and giving consistant commands by everyone involved. It is hard for a dog to learn when one person is trying to teach ‘get’ while another is using ‘find’ for the same behavior. They can be combined so either will work but one should be used at first so the dog knows what the command means. To them we sound like peanuts characters, dogs read our body language much easier than our vocal sounds.

      Always keep it interesting and upbeat and always always always end with a success. Even if its nothing but going back to a sit that the dog does well, its a successful end to the training time.

      Yahoo has several clicker training groups you should look into them.

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