It’s great fun to teach Man’s (and Woman’s) best friend a few tricks and commands. Common ones include “sit”, “down”, “shake” or “high five”, “roll over”, (“get me a beer” if your dog is pretty advanced), and so on.
But here’s one you may not have thought of, and it may just be the most useful one you ever teach.
Teach your dog a word for the place in your house that you have designated as the safe meeting place for your family in the event of an emergency, and teach him to go there on command.
Like all dog training, it should be taught in brief, fun sessions with plenty of praise and rewards. Break it into small tasks and expand on it as the dog learns what you want him to do.
Think of a word or words for your safe place that doesn’t conflict with other words you use in common language. “Safe Place” or “Shelter” might be good choices, but anything that you can remember will work just fine.
Start with you in the safe place, and the dog nearby. Tell the dog “Go Safe Place” or “Go Shelter” or whatever word you’ve picked, and offer the dog a wonderful treat or toy so he understands you want him to join you. Lots of praise when he comes to you! He’s the smartest dog in the world! And of course, give him the treat or toy. Repeat this a few times, a couple of times a day, until he is reliably coming to you whenever you tell him “Go Safe Place”.
In the next step, with you in the doorway, put the treat or toy on the floor in the safe place and give the same instruction, “Go Safe Place”, for example. Again, lots of praise when he goes in the safe place to get his treat or toy.
Work on moving in VERY SMALL INCREMENTS, over time, away from the doorway, and still sending him into the safe place with the same command you have been using. Don’t try to do too much in one day, rather, do it for many consecutive days moving just a little each day. In time, you will be able to send him there from just about anywhere in the house. Some dogs will learn this very quickly, others will take longer. But if you do it right, they will all enjoy the process.
Be sure to reward him EVERY time he goes in there. Someday it may save his life—and yours if you don’t have to go looking for him in a bad storm or other emergency.
One final thought, when you stock your “safe place”, don’t forget your dog’s necessities, too! Be sure to include a leash, water and a water bowl, and any critical medicines. A few treats are usually appreciated, too!