National Train Your Dog Month: Prep Your Pup For An Emergency


California is prone to many types of natural disasters. The state sees major wildfires, earthquakes, and extreme weather.

As natural disasters become more common, it’s important to have a safety plan for all family members, even the 4-legged ones!

One of the easiest ways to prepare your pup for an emergency is to make sure they are microchipped with updated information. It’s also important to have a “go-bag” ready. The “go-bag” should contain food, treats, a water bowl, collar/harness, leash, any medication your dog takes and vaccination records in case you need to stay in a shelter or your dog goes into boarding.

Working with your dog on a couple simple commands can be extremely helpful if you’re in an emergency or need to evacuate your home.

Ideally, you’ll be able to stay with your dog at a family or friend’s house if you need to evacuate but that won’t always be the case.

Crate Training

Getting your dog comfortable with being in their crate is important year-round but can be especially important during an emergency. If you’re at a shelter or your dog is being boarded, they will need to stay in their crate both for their protection, and the protection of others. If your dog is comfortable in a crate, they’ll be less stressed out, resulting in less potential for injury from trying to escape.


  • Get your dog used to the crate by throwing in a couple treats and when they go in for them, offer praise. Practice this several times so your dog associates the crate with positivity.
  • As your dog gets more comfortable, you can start to close the door for short amounts of time, while providing treats.
  • Add toys to the crate while your dog is in it to keep them occupied and relaxed while inside.
  • If possible, keep the crate in a quiet part of your home so your dog associates the crate with comfort. This will help reduce stress if your dog is in a crate in a shelter or at a veterinarian’s office.


This command is important for your dog to master, especially during an emergency. You may need to fill out paperwork at a shelter and you don’t want your dog jumping up on you. It’s also important to keep your dog from jumping up or distracting to you in the event you’re talking to first responders.


  • Start training at home when distractions are limited.
  • Tell your dog “down” and when they do, provide treats. As they stay “down” keep providing treats.
  • As your dog gets used to this command, start adding different verbal cues such as “settle” or “relax.”
  • Once comfortable, practice this command in areas with more distractions like your backyard or front porch.

Friendly Faces

Most dogs are very loyal to their owners but training them to be comfortable around strangers is very important in an emergency. Whether it’s a first responder helping you evacuate or a coordinator at a shelter, if your dog is comfortable around strangers, it will reduce their stress level.


  • If you’re taking your dog to obedience classes, ask the instructor or another class participant to hold your dog’s leash while you walk away.
  • You can also practice with friends in new environments like a pet store.
  • When you return to your dog, stay calm without making a fuss, this will teach your dog that being with the stranger was a positive interaction.

These simple commands will not only help you and your dog during an emergency, but they’ll also lead to a better-behaved pooch.

Learn more: Emergency pet preparedness tips