Guest post by Maggie Potter
Dogs are often referred to as “man’s best friend” for a good reason. They’re loyal, hardworking, trustworthy, and true. As a survivalist, having a dog comes with the added benefits of always having a close companion. You can lean on a dog for emotional support, and they can provide protection in dangerous situations.
Dogs even help to lower blood pressure and reduce stress levels. Most dogs can be trained to do multiple things, but some breeds are more specifically skilled in certain areas than others.
But, whether you have a guard dog, a hunting/tracking dog, or just a furry companion, the best thing you can do is take care of them physically, mentally, and emotionally. So, how can you make sure your four-legged friend fits into your survivalist lifestyle, especially if you have to survive off the grid?
Daily Needs and Care
Most people understand the basic needs of a dog — food, water, exercise, and shelter. But, taking care of a dog and taking responsibility for their ownership goes far beyond those basic needs. Dogs should regularly go to the vet (and the dentist) for checkups, and they can even benefit from “spa days” like their human companions.
If you’re spending a lot of time outdoors with your pup, they’re probably getting plenty of physical exercise, which is great (just be sure to frequently check them for fleas and ticks — especially if they’re scratching!). But, it’s equally important to make sure your dog is getting enough mental stimulation, too. Dogs can’t lounge around on the couch binge-watching the latest Netflix phenomenon. Their minds need to stay active in some other way — and that’s where you come in. While exercise does stimulate the mind, you can go further.
You don’t have to over-complicate your dog’s mental stimulation. Something as simple as a chew toy filled with peanut butter will keep your dog occupied and teach them how to get that tasty stuff inside. Teaching your dog tricks or commands is also a great way to boost their concentration. Dogs, like humans, constantly want to learn more. They enjoy new things, so make sure you’re always teaching. You can absolutely teach an old dog new tricks!
What to Do in an Emergency
Whether it’s a bad storm, a blizzard, a flood, a fire, or you’re just stuck out in the woods, emergencies can happen. You might be prepared to take care of yourself during a disaster, but are you prepared to take care of your pup?
You can start by preparing your dog for emergencies ahead of time. Some dogs panic when danger sets in, so make sure you have a leash to keep them on at all times when they need to stay close. Things like a collapsible dog crate, collapsible food dishes, and even a bit of food and water can make a big difference if you’ll have to leave your home for a while. Like you, your dog’s bug out bag should also include a first aid kit.
Dogs can get injured, too, and while we never want to see our furry friends in pain, it’s important that you have the right materials with you to care for them. It’s also a good idea to educate yourself on how to properly bandage a dog’s paw or other areas of the body. Doing it the wrong way can leave your dog in pain and put them at risk for infection.
Taking care of your dog during a disaster doesn’t have to be complicated. Think of the ways you prepare for yourself and your family, and how those techniques and supplies can apply to the furriest member of your pack.
Keeping Your Dog Safe Through the Seasons
Being outside with your dog is great, and chances are they’ll love every minute of it (almost as much as they love spending time with you). But, as seasons change, it’s important to remember that the overall care for your dog should change and adapt, too.
Simply put? You’re going to have to take extra precautions in the winter months that you won’t need to worry about in the summer. Don’t leave your dog alone outside in the winter, or even in a car. Temperatures can be extremely harsh and if your car is running, carbon monoxide could be an issue.
When you’re walking or hiking with your four-legged companion, make sure their paws are being taken care of. The snow and ice can cause frostbite, but the salt and chemicals used to remove ice from the road can be equally harmful. You can purchase dog boots, or rub their paws down with a balm after your walks.
Finally, make sure you’re paying attention to the things your dog is licking up along the way! A refreshing ‘bite’ of snow won’t hurt your pup, but winter means that there’s a risk of antifreeze puddles in places like parking lots and driveways. Antifreeze is toxic to dogs, so don’t let them drink everything they see.
You already know the importance of caring for yourself and the ones you love. Many people consider their dogs to be a part of their family, so make sure to include them in your preparations. With just a bit more time and care, you can ensure your dog is happy, healthy, and safe for years to come.