Dogs often warn their family of a fire in the home, but sadly are often left behind. They sometimes are too fearful of leaving the place they think of as a safe haven no matter how dangerous it is in a disaster.
Just as you train your dog to sit, come, stay, etc. you can teach your dog to respond to your commands in case of fire.
Use a special mat or pillow you can set aside just for fire drills. Choose words to teach your dog to go to the mat such as “place” or “fire drill.” You can use a treat placed on the mat to coax your dog onto it. When your dog has mastered this step and goes readily to the mat, you can move it to different areas of your home. Once your dog readily obeys your command it’s time to move the mat outdoors. Teach your dog that no matter where the mat or pillow is placed, when s/he hears the command you use, that is the place to go.
It’s important to have your dog leashed during lessons. In real emergencies, s/he may panic and try to run away. Making the drill appear to be a game will keep your dog calm. Remember to treat and praise your dog each time s/he does the lesson correctly.
In case you are trapped in the house, teach your dog to go to a window just as you did for the mat, choosing the word you will use for that command. If your dog is a size you can handle, keep a harness or carrying case and a strong rope in an easily accessible place to lower your dog out the window and down to the ground. If you’re strong enough, you may be able to harness and lower a large dog. Check with your local fire station for information on the safest way to save a large dog when the house is on fire.
Always keep an extra leash, a collar with tags, a first aid kit, copies of your dog’s medical record and any important papers in a waterproof container outside the house where you can access them easily. Include a 2 week supply of any necessary medications and canned dog food. Replace any medications and food that need to be freshened. If you have stickers on your windows, remove them once you and your dog are outside so that firemen are not endangered trying to save your pet.
If you have to be away most of the day, consider putting in a doggie door. This gives your dog a means of escape if there is a fire when you are not at home. The stickers placed on windows will let firemen know the kind of pets you have and how many. The stickers are available from many humane organizations free of charge.
Always check the batteries in your fire alarms to make sure they are functioning properly. Check with your local fire station to make sure your house meets all safety regulations.
Have fire drills on a regular basis so that everyone including your dog remembers what to do in case of fire.