Survival Situation: Dog Gone Or Dog Stays?

Many folks are debating whether it’s good to have a dog during a survival situation or not.  For most dog owners, this is an easy Best Survival Dogquestion to answer.  They are a part of the family, so they go. But what if you are thinking of adding a dog to your survival plans?  If so then it is a definitely a good idea to think it through before making a decision.  There are so many dogs that are left stranded during a SHTF event.  I have seen people leave dogs tied up and left behind when they get scared and have not properly prepared for their animals.

By Chuck Savage, a contributing author to SHTFBlog & Survival Cache

Man’s Best Survival Friend

During Hurricane Frederic in 1979, I had someone I know stake their dog out in front of my house and flee to Georgia without saying a word to me.  Dog Bug Out BagRescues are always busy during times of disasters. They are left with caring for the animals and then trying to find them good homes.  Dogs have been known as man’s best friend for ages and they have earned that title. Mankind began this special relationship by domesticating the grey wolf around 30,000 BC in Asia. According to Wikipedia, there is archaeological evidence found in a cave in the Altai Mountains where Russia, China, Mongolia and Kazakhstan meet, that man owned domesticated grey wolves at that time.

So this is probably good reason to believe that these folks found these early dogs to be very useful in survival situations. Early man was in a state of survival everyday of their lives. They depended on these animals for an early warning security system, a beast of burden, fur and sometimes food. It’s believed that possibly man sharing his kill with wolves led to the domestication process.

Just as these dogs would be an asset to early mankind, dogs could be a source of help today in a survival event. I’m not advocating that all people would be better off with a “survival dog” but they definitely have their pros and cons.
Some people just should not own dogs.  Dogs are a huge responsibility to care for. Now that they are no longer wild, they depend on us to provide for their needs. To keep dogs healthy you need to provide them with shelter, water and food. Then you have to consider the vet bills, the shots, and someone who can care for them if you have to leave for a period of time, and that’s the short list.

Advantages of Having a Dog

– Security and protection if they are properly trained and the right breed.
– Provide companionship and affection that helps to boost morale.
– A dog can be used to track four legged and two legged animals.
– Large breed dogs can be used to carry small loads.
(Native Americans made travois to carry small loads behind dogs.)
– Curl up with a dog and it can keep you warm at night.
(Australia Aborigines judged how cold a night was by how many dogs it took to keep you warm).
That’s where the 70’s rock band, “Three Dog Night” got its name.

Disadvantages of Having a Dog

– They can give your position away to an enemy if not properly trained.
– They are another mouth to feed and care for.
– They can slow your rate of travel.
– They can need medications, vaccines and heart worm treatment.
– They are barefooted so special foot protection is needed in rough terrain.
– They can take up valuable space.
– Owning a dog in a survival situation could cause you to have to choose between them or your family.

Decision Time

Owning a dog is a huge decision that everyone has to make.  If you are not a dog owner and are in the process of deciding Top Survival Dogwhether it is for you or not, weigh all of the cost because too many people jump in and get a dog too soon.  There are so many dogs that end up discarded or in shelters.  Some people think they have brought home Lassie, Rin Tin Tin, or Bullet and find out their pooch is more like Mutley.  It is really easy to put unreal expectations on a dog.  I remember getting a Labrador retriever puppy and thinking of all the ducks and dove that dog would retrieve for me. WRONG! This poor dog wasn’t the least bit interested in fetching anything. No matter how hard I tried, I could not get that dog to hunt.

Just last year my wife and I rescued a one year old chocolate Lab and Boykin spaniel mix and after adjusting to her new home, she has naturally becoming an avid hunter. Don’t count out mix breed dogs.  Our experience has been that they are much better than purebreds because they are generally healthier, cost less because they can be found in rescues, and are stolen less than purebreds.  I’m not telling you not to buy a purebred dog, but if you choose to, make sure it is from an ethical and reputable breeder.  There are breeders out there that run what are known as puppy mills.  These kennels are all about just producing puppies without regard to genetics, health and mental health.

Bottom Line

Bottom line, really think it through. If you already have a dog then you definitely need to be pet prepared. A well cared for dog will need a high quality dog food and be up to date on all of its shots, worming, flea and tick prevention, and heart worm medications. You will need bowls for food and water, leashes, harnesses or collars with identification and contact info.  Micro chips are great too but may be useless if the grid is compromised.  Foot protection could also be a great help to protect from broken glass and other hazards during a disaster.

So the choice is yours. If you have a dog more than likely you will choose to take it with you in a survival situation.  If you are considering getting a dog as an asset in a survival situation, think long and hard and weigh the cost before you make your decision.

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28 comments… add one
  • Javelin February 22, 2015, 1:04 pm

    What I am about to say probably wont be popular, But in ABSOLUTE worst case scenario, final straw, no other way, Dog, or any other domestic animal can be survival food.
    I am not advocating this position. you should not be thinking about poodle ranching, but using a domestic animal as a protein source could be THE LAST OPTION.

    • laura m. February 23, 2015, 1:54 pm

      I would rather be dead than eat my pet cat who gets daily hugs and kisses. Friends agree likewise with their dogs. They are family members and are loved even more than some family members. I would eat goat, sheep, donkey, buffalo/bison, rabbit or horse meat bartered from local farms nearby, or hunt deer or raise rabbits and laying hens.

      • Odd Questioner March 1, 2015, 12:19 am

        Kind of in the middle here…

        If it was a stark choice of eating the cat or starving, then kitty is getting barbecued… simple and sweet.

        The dogs? Not so much. they’re small, don’t eat much, and act as four-legged alarm systems.

        • Mongoose March 10, 2015, 1:26 am

          They also (like my Chatahoola Cur) make great critter catchers, mine can feed us both, and has.

          • Dan March 18, 2015, 8:50 am

            My dog would be utterly useless. Does not guard in any fashion. Does not bark(unless it is a vacuum). She sleeps 20 hours a day. All the negatives you list is precisely what she would be.

          • sharonsj March 25, 2015, 5:16 pm

            Cats are much better at catching mice and small creatures. Dogs, however, will eat insects. (All handy for protecting the food supply.) And both cats and dogs will protect their owners. In any case, I’d have to be starving before I ate my pets.

  • Doc Montana February 22, 2015, 5:18 pm

    There are dogs and there are DOGS.

    dogs are inconvenient asset. They might initially provide a bit of psychological stability and purpose, but as noted above, are just a walking meal.

    Now a DOG on the other hand can be a significant contribution to your survival plan, as well as week’s worth of meals.

    I have DOG.

  • irishdutchuncle February 22, 2015, 8:40 pm

    … that is how the word “CHOW”, entered our language.
    (101 Ways to WOK your dog)

  • Roger February 23, 2015, 1:04 am

    Personally, if worst goes to ‘oh shit’, and meat becomes such a rare item, then I (and my dogs) will be feeding on the neighbors (and their animals) long before I would consider (if ever) eating my dogs; they ARE my family! As far as ‘high quality dog food’, dogs can survive on a vegetarian diet (don’t tell them), but they thrive on meat ‘appetizers’. They don’t have to have an all-meat diet and in fact, many (if not all) wild predators will eat a prey animal’s internal organs including it’s stomach and contents, and not just as left overs! While I currently feed my dogs with a name-brand dry food as the majority of their diet, meat (chicken’s cheapest) does serve as a small but very welcome diet supplement, usually daily. Most dry dog foods use grains as their main ingredience, which is ‘people food’ anyway and most dry dog foods only have a six month self life. A ‘human food’ meat snack is cheaper and after the canned dog food poisoning scare (damn China) a lot safer. Besides as my bumper sticker says: “the more people I meet, the more I love my dogs!” By the way, Alaskans claim the ‘three dog night’ saying as their own, who knows, but it gets a lot colder in Alaska than Australia. Good Luck!

  • kevin February 23, 2015, 8:13 am

    to ME a dog is family trained right they can save your LIFE

  • woody February 23, 2015, 10:18 am

    My dogs will have equal status as my family and will come before strangers when it comes to food and shelter. They deserve that status because of the love they give us unconditional!

  • BamaMan February 23, 2015, 10:40 am

    Very few people have a trained dog that would actually help out.

    As for food, others would want to eat your dog vs. their own and it might be a target vs. a weapon of defense.

    • TPSnodgrass February 23, 2015, 1:40 pm

      Our two dogs are highly trained and we keep them that way. Not only are they trained for security, they are our family pets. No way are we giving up our dogs.We consider our dogs to be another security investment, for our well being and companionship. They are worth every single penny, and yes, we have stockpiled appropriate food for them as well.

  • Pineslayer February 23, 2015, 11:43 am

    Luckily my dogs are used to being on the trail and are constantly hunting for a meal and are very good at it. They sure aren’t hunting dogs, but they are pretty self sufficient if need be. They are family and nothing is able to sneak up on me when they are around. I will protect them like the rest of my family without giving it a single thought.

    In the book, One Second After, the main character gave his starving dog to a neighbor who was starving. Tough scene, but it is relevant.

    They will provide security at my home, but they will become a target for hungry, desperate people. Those people will probably be in my crosshairs also as enemy combatants.

    Good and tough question. Mutts Rule!

  • late2theParty February 23, 2015, 12:32 pm

    I think it really comes down to where you live and how you perceive your dogs. Are they farmhands? Are they security dogs? Are they pets? If they are pets, are they family or just something the kids wanted? In any of these cases, physical interaction with any animal reduces physical stress, and the effect is even more pronounced when the animal is a member of the family as a pet.

    As eyes and ears security, they are better than most humans. As actionable security, they are simple enough to fool and or defeat in small groups; a negative. Large packs tend to be far more dangerous than one or two dogs. So I would consider them to be good alert systems and personal health machines, less as physical security. Large breed dogs will be more useful on farms and community gardens than in suburbs and urban areas. Not that I would want to tangle with any dogs teeth.

    In our house, animals are family, more often than blood, so there will be no trades to neighbors. I just can’t encourage just getting a dog for the SHTF.

  • NoSox March 5, 2015, 2:36 pm

    I love my dogs to death and they are definitely part of my plan. They both are pitbulls but they have their advantages and disadvantages. I don’t go camping without them. Early detection and sleeping bag preheater:)

  • Big Bill March 9, 2015, 9:31 pm

    My dog hanz is just that ” my dog ” if me my wife and 5 kids were really that hungry then hanz would be delicious ! Just saying .

  • j gee March 18, 2015, 12:53 am

    Another advantage of taking the dog is; if you run out of food, well… no you haven’t. Don’t go crazy folks. I’m not serious. My dog is like my child. I would die for her.

  • Rick March 18, 2015, 4:42 am

    I have a Newfoundland and a beagle. Both have huge abilities to help. My beagle is sweet as he can be but give him a rabbit or coon to chase and he is all buisness. So one bonus and our Newfie is trained to pull a load or carry a pack. He can easily carry around a 50lb load all day. Both are not agresive in the least but we always know when someone comes around and I don’t know about others but a dog the size of a small horse(agresive or not) makes a pretty good deterrent.
    As for foot protection I wanna know where in the world someone would take take a dog that they actually need foot coverings.
    In the food category yea the Newfie eats quite a bit but he is not picky in the slightest and same goes for the beagle (in the picky category anyways).
    My dogs are my family and are definitely part of my bug out plans, how could they not be?

  • new york March 18, 2015, 6:48 am

    You must remember…dogs WILL get fleas if you are walking in the woods surviving. Itching is very Loud when your in the woods hunting animals, or hiding from people.

    • Anonymous March 18, 2015, 10:09 pm

      2 years worth flea protection does not take up any space or weigh anything. My plan does not evolve in the city will go deep woods fast as possible that event we be assessed at the and my dog will not go hungry I grew up in the is full of crazies

  • robert March 18, 2015, 9:50 am

    There is something’s wrong with people hoo talk like that i think you need to look at your self.

  • anona March 18, 2015, 9:57 pm

    If you own a pit bull, german sheppard, lab, etc, then you own a dog. Poodles and the like are not dogs, they are just overpriced mops.

    • Anonymous April 19, 2015, 10:16 pm

      A standard poodle is a large and capable retriever , in a pinch not a bad defender. That being said I have a pit mix ;)

  • Hemo ore April 3, 2015, 10:50 pm

    I remember when we bought our home a sales man came cold calling at the house trying to sell home alarms After calling the dog off the first words out of his mouth were are you interested in a home alarm is is that pit bull going to suffice

  • BamaGriz April 5, 2015, 10:21 am

    As one who volunteers in d0g rescue (particularly bully breeds) I am particularly glad to see your emphasis on rescue or shelter dogs. I have seen purebreds of all breeds wallowing away in shelters. They are out there and available with a little bit of searching/effort. No need to pay top dollar for a purebred to have as a family pet or SHTF companion.

  • hogdog April 30, 2015, 10:08 am

    I have a German Shepherd and he is part of my defense system. He knows that someone is there long before you see them. A well train dog is worth its weight in gold to me.

  • Anonymous April 13, 2016, 8:48 pm

    if you live in the western states, jus train the dogs to hunt and track. then theyl be worth a whole lot and can keep you and themselves fed for long time. Id certainly say that makes up for all the negatives of food and water and they are great companions especially if you are alone.

    p.s dogs can drink water from any pond or lake if needed to.


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