Being Prepared

So much of the news these past few weeks has been focused on the natural disasters happening all over the Atlantic and Gulf areas around and offshore of the US that it got me thinking about how prepared are we for the chance of a natural or nuclear disaster striking us.


I checked our Disaster Evacuation Kit and everything looks good, but after talking to a few experts I realized there were a couple of things I overlooked and it those things I wanted to share with everyone this month.


Get your service dog use to seeing first responders in all types of gear.

One thing that is really helpful to include in your evacuation kit is a list of all your pets and their microchip numbers.  If you and your pets are separated, which could and does happen in spite of best efforts, then you have something that you can pass out to rescue groups and animals shelters.  These groups will be scanning recovered pets and having the information that certain numbers have a traceable owner are really helpful to them.

I never thought to check with my county officials to see if our county had a plan for evacuating pets during an emergency.  We do in fact have a plan in the county where I live and it tells me what the official plan of action will be with regard to my pets if disaster should strike.  I urge you to become familiar with your county’s plan BEFORE something happens so you know where to go with your animals, where to look for them if you are separated, and how to support you county officials handling animal rescue if you so choose to get that involved.

Another thing that cropped up in regard to the theme of this blog this past month as I put many more thousand miles on my van traveling about the country is how little time people prepare their service dogs for emergencies.  People who are self training as well as many non service dog pro trainers helping those folks seem to forget to add in the exercises I feel are a necessary part of a good service dog schooling.

One lesson every service dog should have is how to react in and around first responders, ambulances, and the not-seen-every-day equipment associated with these people.  All the first responders that I have spoken with told me that if a service animal is well mannered and cooperative they have no issue keeping the dog with its person.


Learning to handed off to someone else.

At the first sign of trouble though they will hand the dog off to animal control as their first concern is the well-being of the person.  What this means is you need to practice doing out of sight handoffs to another person the dog is not too familiar with in multiple locations, you need to have other people walk your dog away as you lay down and fake a crisis, you need to have other people be able to tell your dog to do something and they do it willingly.  If you don’t practice this, don’t be surprised if your dog won’t do it.

Another important lesson is how to remain calm in a cage. I know a lot of people do not like cages, crates, whatever you want to call them. However, there will be times when your dog may end up in one and for that reason you should at least train them to:

  1. accept the cage
  2. willingly go into the cage on command
  3. stay there with the door open until told it is Okay to leave

This is not as difficult as it sounds.  Try tossing a treat into the cage at the same time you say a cue word for the dog to enter.  I like the word ‘kennel’ which to my dogs means “go into what I am pointing at”.   As soon as your dog enters and turns around, close the door and wait for them to sit. When they do reach in and reward with a treat.  If they move or try to get out the door closes, if they hold the position they get a treat.  Soon enough the dog figures out that going into the cage and sitting until told to do something else is the way the game works. Mine will do happily many times, I think they rather enjoy the game.

I hope this finds all my friends everywhere safe and sound, in the meantime get prepared in case you do have an emergency.

Tabouli’s Traveling Tips for Flying with a Service Dog

By Debby Kay ©2017 All rights reserved

When you travel by air for the first time with a service dog there are a number of things you need to be aware of as airlines, airports and those associated with these services have many different ideas on what’s right about dogs.   To give you a first-hand view of what to expect and how to prepare, I asked one of my well-traveled service dog friends, Tabouli, for his list of things to remember for your dog.

T in line at airport

Tabouli likes to have his own bag with all his stuff in one place. This might mean an extra baggage charge depending on the airlines. T mat in airport

One way around all this is to have the bag sent ahead by overnight express mail. For the trip you won’t need much other than paperwork (particularly important for overseas flights) and collar, harness, and leash along with your dog’s vest if he wears one. One useful tip is to have a small TSA compliant combination slip lead with no metal on it for going through the metal detector.  Once you are through the detectors you can put on the regular gear.

Tabouli loves the window seat

T out airplane window

Looking out the window at 30,000 feet

because people don’t step over him and since he is a small dog that sits on his person’s lap he gets to rest his head on the arm rest.  Small dogs like small children can sit in the lap and should also be buckled into the seat belt. There are some easy to use devices available online like the EzyDog Seatbelt Restraint for under $10.

One thing Tabouli told me he didn’t like were the service dog relief areas at the airports. They are mostly indoors when available and for a well housebroken dog like him he can’t bring himself to using it.  If your dog is like him then be sure to give your dog lots of time to walk and relieve himself outside before you get to the airport. If I know a puppy is going to be traveling, then I teach them as puppies to use Piddle Pads and to evacuate on command.  To help the dog feel more comfortable you may want to restrict water and food intake to a minimum prior to the flight.

One thing Tabouli experiences a lot are really crowded trains and buses as they are moving from airport terminal to plane and parking lots. T crowded busIt helps if you practice taking your dog to crowded places before you get to the airport so as not to stress your dog out. Catch a bus or subway train as part of preparation for your trip so the dog has at least some experience before the first trip to the airport. Dogs needs are really simple when traveling, the main thing to remember is prepare them by training in places similar to airport situations as much as you can before you fly. Go for walks during rush hour at busy stations or similar places, go to crowded city stores or events, but best of all if you can get to the airport to practice before you actual travel that will go a long way towards alleviating stress for your dog’s first flight.

For more information on flying with dogs visit K9Wings.  Safe travels everyone and a special thank you to Tabouli for sharing his insights.

T on boat

On the Road Again – Preparing to Travel by Car With Your Dog

With summer vacation around the corner everyone has travel on his or her minds. Any trip I make with my dog is always my best trip. Dogs force you stop at rest areas, take a stretch and remind you to drink more water; things we should do but often we just keep driving. By the time we do stop we are too dehydrated or so stiff its difficult to get comfortably stretched out and walking normal again. What I would like to discuss this month though are the other considerations to take into account when traveling with your dog in the car.

First and foremost in my book is safety while traveling. Cars are equipped with seat belts, air bags, bars in doors and other features to keep humans safe in case of an accident. There is nothing in your car to keep your dog safe, so it is up to you to provide protection in the event of an accident. After doing a bit of research and talking to people who had been in accidents when a dog was in the car with them I am convinced the safest way to travel with a dog in a car is in a well constructed kennel cage or crate as they are often referred to. The biggest problem I found with the cages in crashes or where the car was rolled over is they generally fall apart with one of two outcomes for the dog; either the dog is crushed in the wire cage or the cage breaks apart on the impact. If the dog survives the impact of the crash and the cage breaks apart this creates a situation where a disoriented dog is now loose at the scene of an accident. Emergency responders may or may not notice the dog if the dog decides to stay around and either your dog is now lost or worse yet may end up getting hit when it attempts to cross the road you were traveling on.

After hearing so many horror stories of such things happening I was intrigued when I heard about a crate that was designed to withstand impact from crashes and was molded of all one piece of high industrial plastic so it would not fall apart when tossed around such as in an accident. After looking at their product I decided that I wanted to outfit my vehicles with these industrial marvels from Rough Tough. Over the 45 years I have trained and bred dog I can honestly say I have at one time or another owned one of every brand of dog cage made. But I can say with out reservation the Rough Tough kennels are by far the best I have ever come across; not to mention I now have the peace of mind when traveling knowing that my dog is as safe as I can make it for him.

The next step on the list to prepare is packing your dog’s own bag. Here are a few of the things I have on my checklist.

Food, water, and treats

In this group I include enough food for all the meals and then add 2 days extra. I have a good supply of training treats, biscuits and some type of chew. My dog’s love the Yak Milk chews which last a long time so they are especially good for trips. One of these will go in the cage while we are driving down the road. I also include a Kong and Kong Stuffing as a bit of variety from the chews. Heartworm pills and flea medication is taken if we will be gone during the time when that should be given. Don’t forget water and food bowls either. My dogs have a separate water cooler too so they are drinking the water from home while traveling.


My Chihuahua Boo would not let me leave home without his blanket even though it might be summer but especially if we are going to cold weather areas. Something soft to lie on in the crate is usually appreciated and I always take 2 terry towels for drying wet dogs in case of rain or an afternoon swim. Also include a large sheet to cover the bed where you will be staying if your dog is one that likes to sleep with you. People including the hotel staff appreciate keeping the covers clean from the dogs.

hound on a mattress with a blanket over her

This old girl has her mattress, blanket and is all set for camping out .


A Canine first aid kit goes on every trip I make as well. Cut paws, scraps and even emergency first aid for bee stings make it a must. I also like to pack doggy boots. I will use these more in the winter than in the summer but some times hot pavement can not be avoided and your dog will thank you for having the extra protection. Just be sure to teach your dog how to walk in them first. Speaking of protection I like to be sure to have a nice natural oil spray to put on the dogs to keep bugs away. Of course you cannot convince a Chihuahua not to lie in the sun, they never seem to be able to get warm enough. So for dogs like Boo who can get sunburned I will also have a spray on sun protection. If we are going to the beach or will be boating the doggy life jackets get packed too. Little guys have trouble with rough waters so life vests are a must, but I have them for the big guys too if needed.

I always make sure I have a variety of leashes and collars packed for every trip, in case one breaks. I really love the collars that light up in the dark for nighttime walks and have one in the bag for that occasion. Remember to put a healthy supply of pick up bags in with your things. All that done its time to load up and head down the road. Safe travels everyone, let me hear about your adventures and please feel free to add comments on your favorite things to pack for your dog(s) as you travel.

the collars that light up in the dark for nighttime walks and have one in the bag for that occasion. Remember to put a healthy supply of pick up bags in with your things. All that done its time to load up and head down the road. Safe travels everyone, let me hear about your adventures and please feel free to add comments on your favorite things to pack for your dog(s) as you travel.