Dogs can be trained to perform a great variety of tasks that can an asset in a SHTF scenario, but not every dog is suited to every task. For example, herding dogs are not good as livestock guardians, and livestock guardian breeds are not going to excel at retrieving, etc….
Small companion dogs are good at alerting and as a source of warmth, but they are not going to be able to pack their own food and water, and may have a hard time keeping up should you find yourself having to bug out on foot. And if not properly trained with a “quiet” command, may end up barking and giving away your location when you need them to be quiet.
Besides coming when called, being quiet when necessary is one of the most important things things you can teach your dog. Ideally these and other commands would be via dog whistle so that you are not giving away your position.
XL dogs such as Newfoundlands, Great Danes and Bull Mastiff’s can be psychologically intimidating based on their size, are usually able to carry their own packs, but require a lot of space making them more noticeable.
Medium to large sized dogs are often ideal for a variety of tasks, and their size both helps them stay concealed and can provide a deterrent, while not consuming as many resources as the XL breeds.
Before selecting a breed of dog, think about the tasks that would be the most useful to you. Do you need a herding dog, a livestock guardian (very noisy) personal protection, search and rescue or hunting/retrieving partner? Understand that these all require a commitment to advanced training.
Regardless of what your ultimate goal for your dog is – every dog should have basic obedience training. This means completing the following tasks through both verbal and non-verbal commands in close proximity and at a distance.
- Heel (if you prefer a “with me” looser leash command that is fine)
- Carry their own pack
- Not to take food that isn’t from you
If your dog knows how to do those 6 things well, then you have done a good job. Remember to practice with them, both at home and out in public or in an obedience class, as reliability can only be proven when their are distractions.
A dog for prepper work must be environmentally sound, that is the dog is not stressed in new places or situations. A well trained dog should be able to accompany you in hostile environments with gun fire, bad weather and stressful surroundings. If a dog folds under these conditions, it should not be considered for prepper work.
Another trait that will disqualify a dog is uncontrollable aggressive behavior. The dog can not be a danger or a loose cannon. A dog should be confident, social, and obedient to its pack leader.
Feeding your dog when the SHTF
While commercially prepared dog foods have been around since the late 1800’s, they really didn’t reach the majority of dogs until the 1960’s. Before that time dogs were frequently fed table scraps since being omnivores they can thrive on a diet similar to humans.
In general, unopened dry pet foods have a shelf life of 12-18 months, while unopened canned foods are good for two years from the date of manufacture.
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