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Service Dogs
Emergency Preparedness Exercises
Service Dogs
What Service Dogs Do
Is a Service Dog for You
How to Get a Service Dog
The Right Dog
The Right Source
The Right Trainer
The Right Training
Your Goals
Your Resources
Getting Ready for a Service Dog
Health Care
When You Get a Service Dog
Working in Public
Recognizing when an emergency is occurring and being able to quickly but calmly preceed is critical in possibly saving your dog's life.  Being able to determine what constitutes an emergency and what can be handled as routine health care is also important.  To be vigilant and alert, but not overreactive is a skill acquired with practice. 
As the person responsible for a dog, you must remain calm and clear-thinking, as any anxiety or fear you display will influence the dog's state of mind.  In situations where a dog may already be worried or scared, be careful to monitor your own behavior so that you do not increase the dog's anxiety.
Taking a few deep breathes, consciously relaxing, and lowering the pitch and volume of your voice should be a regular part of your emergency routine. 
Develop and use a personal calming ritual.
Create a three-minute calming exercize and visualization for yourself which you practice regularly and often during non-emergency times.  This exercise should always begin with: Take three deep breathes.  Develop this into a personal
ritual you use, always doing the same steps in the same order until you can do them automatically.
Write down your calming exercize and visualization  in detail.  You may want to use an affirmation as part of your personal exercise.  Make several copies of this ritual.  Put copies in your dog training journal or logbook, your first aid kit, your disaster preparedness kit, the glove compartment of your car, your wallet or purse, on your refrigerator, and anywhere else you feel will help you to remember to practice often and regularly.
Begin using this calming ritual any time you feel stressed, anxious, or paniced.  You want this routine to become automatic.  You cannot be in control of an emergency situation with your animal if you cannot be in control of yourself.
Create Emergency Instructions Paperwork
This is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT.  This information needs to be readily available AT ALL TIMES.  Include contact information for your dog's veterinarian and two people who know and can handle your dog if you are unavailable or incapacitated.  Include instructions about where your dog will go to be taken care of if you should become incapacitated. 
Create Dog Identification Information Paperwork
  • Photographs of your dog from the front, and from the side, and photographs of you and your dog together. 
  • Health records on your dog with vaccination information detailing any special considerations or conditions. 
  • City License information and tag #.
  • Microchip and/or tattoo numbers.

Make several copies of this information. 

  • Have your dog carry a copy in the pocket of her or his vest. 
  • Put a copy in the glove compartment of your car. 
  • Put a copy in your wallet or purse. 
  • Give a copy to your veterinarian to keep in your dog's file. 
  • Give a copy to each person named as an emergency contact, and every person on your support team.
Possible Emergencies
Go to Possible Emergencies to see examples of situations that could happen and explore how you can be prepared.  This is not a hypothetical exercise.  These situations are based on actual, real life situations that have happened.  The outcome of these emergency situations often depended upon the preparedness of the person involved.  Your active participation in this exercise will have a direct relationship to your ability to respond should any of these situations occur.
An Emergency Plan
For each of the situations, create for yourself An Emergency Plan.  Write down your plan as a series of steps.  Write down any necessary resource information or equipment you will need for each plan.  Make a file or notebook with your Emergency Plans and put it in a specific place where it will always stay so that you can find it quickly.  Include with each Emergency Plan the location of any supplies or equipment that may be needed specific to the plan.  Do this in hard copy so that if your computer is not working you will be able to locate the information you need.
Dog First Aid Kit
Create a Dog First Aid Kit and keep it in a specific and accessible place.  You will probably want to create three different kits: one small-sized collection of items to carry with you, one travel-sized to carry in the car, or on trips, and one base camp group of all necessary items you keep at your house.  Several websites have good information you can use as reference.
Disaster Preparedness
Depending on where you are living, the possibility of Natural Disaster occuring at unexpected times without warning is real.  You may suddenly be faced with Tornado, Hurricane, Earthquake, Flood or Wildfire conditions.  At some point in your life, you probably will.  Again Preparedness is critical.
Make a list of Natural Disasters which could occur at your locality.  Make a Disaster Plan for each of these situations, including where you will go, the possible routes you could take, supplies and equipment you will need, and important paperwork you will not want to leave behind.
FEMA has a free Independant Study Course: Emergency Preparedness USA with maps showing areas where specific types of Natural Disasters are most likely to occur.  You can see this information at:

Make a Plan for War, Riot, Robbery, and Structural Damage to your home.  Where will you go?  What will you take with you?  Who needs to be contacted?
Make a Plan for loss of electricity, gas, water, or heat to your home.  Who will you contact?  What supplies and equipment will you need to have ready?  Know where your candles, matches, flashlights, and extra warm clothing and sleeping bags are.  The Disaster Preparedness Questions in the homework section will help you find the information you need.

Create a Disaster Preparedness Kit, keep it packed, in a specific location, and readily accessible.  Research various websites to help you decide what you should include to be able to care for yourself and your dog.  Include your Dog First Aid Kit, Emergency Instructions, and Dog Identification Information.

Answer these questions about types of disasters, services, resources, and your personal needs and plans as they apply to your geographical location. 

When you have completed all of the exercises in this section, you will be more thoroughly prepared, mentally and physically, to be responsible in caring for your dog and yourself, should an emergency occur.  We all like to think, "That will never happen to me."  And maybe you are the lucky person who lives a charmed life.  But the ability to be prepared and cope with emergencies can make a big difference in the outcome, should unexpected circumstances occur. 
By actively participating in these exercises now, you may be able to save your dog's life in the future.  It is your responsibility to your dog to be as prepared as possible for emergencies that can and do happen.
When all homework from this section has been received, reviewed, and found to be correct, an Emergency Preparedness Certificate will be issued in your name and sent to you. 

If you are a person visiting this site who has information, comments, stories, opinions or other input on this topic that would be helpful and could be included on the Comments and Input page for this topic, please email:

Education and Support for People and Service Dogs