Dogs in violent survival situations

I did not have a pet when SHTF, I did not have it later, most of the people who had it when SHTF let them go or in some cases probably ate them.

Just to clean up with some things I believe are myths. Dogs for protection did work but not that a dog guards you and fights for you. When human life matters little nobody has problems shooting a dog. Dogs were sometimes shot for fun.

So leaving family at home with dogs as protection is bad idea.

In civilized times somebody who breaks in house and never killed a human might wait long enough before shooting dog and get attacked, but in our case, nobody waited.

People who waited and did not shoot, did not live more than first few weeks after SHTF, or if they were and if they could not get themselves to shoot at living beings, they were just hiding somewhere.

Some families just locked dog out and never let in again. Food was only for humans after some point in time for most.

About eating dogs, not much to say about this. Dogs are animals and hunger can make people go eat everything. There were some people who nobody knew what they ate and how they got food. Most “exotic” meat I had was rat, some sort of big water rat, not sure if I would have touched dog.

I say not sure because of course I’m against eating dog now but once it is matter of your life or that of a dog, opinion can change.

One of the guys from my street had and kept his dog trough all of that, dog lived few years after all was over with them. I did not think too much about that dog, his importance for that family or burden or whatever.

But after many questions about pets when SHTF via email and in my course I decided to ask that guy about his dog and their SHTF time.

They get dog few years before war, ordinary mixed puppy, I mean no famous breed. Small dog, we call it “house” dog or “kids ” dog here. They called it Rino. Kids paid attention to Rino, but after few years when kids were grown up into teenagers they stopped to pay too much attention to him.

Oldest guy in family took him as something as a best friend, so it was normal to see grandpa walking trough the street with that dog.

When everything started family pretty much forgot about the dog, I mean a lot of much more important stuff were on their schedule. Some other folks moved in the house and it was crowded, with many problems, food, hygiene and all what our survival situation brought.

Dog still stayed with grandpa mostly, he shared some of his food with him, even some of the family members had opinion that giving food to the dog in that time was not so smart idea.

Anyway old guy went sick, he was pretty much old and had problems with high blood pressure and heart, and the stress and overall bad situation just speed up things. He lose his strength and fell into the bed.

For two months he was laying in the bed with Rino beneath his legs, that dog did not want to move from him. Grandpa and that dog became something like best friends. That guy from the street told me that it was like they both felt that they are not so useful in the whole situation, so they just move very close to each other.

Nobody told anything bad to the old guy, or show or act like he is a burden because he is sick, but being old does not mean stupid, the old guy felt useless.

Neighbor said it was at the same time so sad to see them together always. Like a picture of things breaking down.

Grandpa died in the middle of the hardest period, when hostilities and hunger was worst, and nobody knows what tomorrow gonna be. My neighbor also said, and he sweared to me it is truth, that night before grandpa died that dog was howling all night, and he said that dogs can smell death when is approaching the house. I do not know but when he told me that I got chills.

Dogs saved themselves from recent Tsunamis before they came so they seem to have some sort of sense for things.

In the morning they found grandpa dead, they burried him in the park, and they keep dog. In next few days they noticed that dog is blind, nobody knows when or how that happened, neighbor said nobody paid too much attention in those days what dog is eating or how clean it is, so everything is possible.

But he also noticed something else: when bad guys came in to the street, some 150 meters maybe that dog always would run and tried to hide, when somebody friendly came in the street dog is gonna stand next to the window frame with front two legs up there.

So they learned that and they use it as a some kind of early warning sign. He said that dog actually probably saved their lives couple of times.

When everything ended dog had something like special place in that house, something like special decorated war hero, best food, best care, best everything.

My neighbor told me at the end of the story that they found dog dead one morning, on exact place where grandpa was lying for months and where he died at the end.

I do not know too much about dogs, and I do not know if things from the story are possible, but that my neighbor sweared to me couple of times, he even cried at the end of his story.

He told me that story while we had few beers in a cafe, across the cafe was park where his grandpa is buried. They did not exhume people from the park, too many graves, too many problems and authorities after the war just turn that park officially in the graveyard with everything that goes with any other „normal“ graveyard.

So in short, no dogs will not be great fighters on your side when weapons are commonly used but dogs can help you with their senses. If you are dog owner please share your opinion about this in comments.

70 responses to “Dogs in violent survival situations”

  1. Marc Naquin says:

    As for me…. I live alone and would rather have my dogs around me than others who are unknown to me. Mine always let know when someone comes near…. whether growling or wagging tails, I trust their instincts…

    • Aye Kay says:

      My best dog for when SHTF is my little Boston terrier. She does not hardly ever bark. She watches and listens. She hears something sneaking around her ears perk up and she pays attention. She would not eat much and would help keep me warm.
      We live in the country and have a large pack of dogs. They guard the place well by alerting us to strange vehicles. I know they would be shot quickly by someone if SHTF but at leat they’d let us know what is happening. Our terriers keep the rats down around the house.

  2. Michael says:

    If you have a dog for a year and just give it food and water, it maybe your friend…if you have a dog for many years and every day give him water, food (less in SHTF), take care about it, play with it, this dog will turn part of your family, you wouldnt eat or kill him…if you eat less food the dog can understand and wont call for more than you can give…i have dogs since i was a child, now i´m 30 years old, when my 1st dog dead i miss him like a brother lost…
    My dog now are smaller but courageous dog. He can protect my house and my family against most of dangerous situations in urban place, and in a SHTF situation he will be my trust companion when i need to protect my family…
    Sorry about my english, i´m not too good…

  3. Steven Adams says:

    Really Great Story!!! Thanks for sharing!!

  4. LSB says:

    Dogs are amazing creatures! People don’t want to give them the credit they deserve. Yes, they can sense things that we might not notice. They are a lot more intellegent than they let on as well. (When ‘you’ say “Dumb dog” when he/she doesn’t do what you want, the dog might be thinking: “Pulled another one over on them”.)

    Great story! Thanks for sharing.

    • Jandro says:

      I agree that dogs can be wonderful early warning systems. However, keep in mind that dogs can be deceived by offerings of food to let hostiles approach. Meat tainted with rat poison can kill your sentry. Thus, make sure you keep your dog inside. Additionally, I have seen dogs go feral and attack anything alive in packs. In these situations, dogs are extremely dangerous. I learned that first hand when I was attacked by a pack of wild dogs in desert canyon country. Lucky for me, I was armed with a pistol and put three of them down before they ran off. The attackers were a Brittany Spaniel, a Labrador, and a German Short-hair, all hunting dogs that had been abandoned by their owners. I had a friend in Alaska, who was attacked by a short fused bear when his idiot dog went nuts, attacked the bear and led the bear back to camp, where the bear attacked my friend. He went up a tree until the bear left. The dog got planted on the spot. In my opinion, yappers and ankle biters will be a liability in a SHTF situation. I would not keep a nervous or easily upset dog around, nor would I want a dog, if on the move. In sum, keeping a dog in a SHTF incident would depend on the dog and my ability to care for it.

  5. Hannah says:

    Selco, this post is great and I’ll be sharing it with alot of people I know who have dogs. I love reading about your experiences in the war and hearing the wisdom you gained from it. 🙂

  6. Dashui says:

    My marine friend adopted a dog in Vietnam. The dog could hear incoming shells before humans could. So it would run to the bunker first. Everybody would follow behind.

  7. Gerald says:

    Dogs are good “early warning” devices and can provide company to someone that needs it (like the grandpa above) but you can’t depend on them to protect or attack at the appropriate times. A dog in a crisis situation (any crisis) could be worthwhile if you have food available but like any situation the people involved have to make the best decision they can given the circumstances. If you have to dispose of the dog (to provide for the humans) it might be problematic with children involved as they might not understand. Even the adults might not understand but should be able to deal with it better (most at any rate–seems like there is always someone they can’t evaluate a situation logically/rationally/realistically). But to save lives you have to do what you have to do.

  8. Don says:

    I have always preferred dogs over most people.
    They are honest, do not lie and if you become their friend they will stay your friend until they die if you treat them fair. My female Cocker Spaniel is sleeping here under my desk right now where she has been sleeping for the past 12 years.

  9. ttpm says:

    My father died a few years ago in his 80’s. He was in a hospice for a while before he died at home. I took my wife and kids to see him in the hospice with our dog. The hospice said animals were welcome because they cheered people up. My father’s dog was there too. When we arrive our dog started howling and was inconsolable. I had to take her outside. My father’s dog was ok. The nurse told us that many dogs and cats can smell death and react like that. I saw this and believe the explanation.

    We have 2 working breed dogs to watch the house and family. I have told the family the purpose of the dogs is to watch and protect. I know that they will give me a few seconds to react if someone evil comes into the house – that is it. I don’t believe in “hero dogs”. The dog has a job, not just companionship.

    Thank you for your valuable post.

  10. Ron McClain says:

    Dogs are a lot like people,they are all different.A dog’s job is not to attack and defend,although some do a great job of this.Their job is to warn and alert .It is then your job to fight and protect your family.A good dog is part of that family.I think you should prepare to feed and care for your dog.have food ,medicine and stuff to guard them ,and you,from fleas and ticks,and worms.Some dogs are also good partners in hunting.this can add food to the household.I think a good dog would be a valuable asset in a situation like you went through.

  11. HunterAlpha1 says:

    I know I’d be willing to starve myself to keep my Shelley alive. The way I see it, in a survival situation the benefits of having a dog outweigh the cost. As it says in the article, dogs can sense dangers humans can’t. Also, a dog is willing to lay down it’s life to protect you, even if it means charging into a hail of lead to buy you time to escape. So, you preppers out there, if you don’t have a dog get one, and make sure you stock up on plenty of dog food(which, if things get really desperate, can be eaten by people).

  12. Rikki says:

    We are dog people. We store extra food and meds for our dog and he is simply a fur-covered kid, as far as we are concerned. We would share whatever we have with him. If anyone were to approach and shoot our dog, that person would be in our sights and gone. If they shoot us first, so be it. If we came home and found him dead, we would grieve. We have a dog in our family just because we cannot think of life without one.

    I don’t know if a dog is actual protection or not. Ours is a *famous breed* that is supposedly a *killer*, according to the insurance agency. Yeah, if you are a raccoon or a possum, or a stray cat (not *his* cat) or even a smaller dog….then maybe. He will growl at people he doesn’t like and then do as he is told, which is usually to back off. His instincts about people are always correct. Normally, he likes most folks and he is a hundred and twenty pound immovable object if he doesn’t want someone to get past him. He announces their arrival as part of his *job* in the family. He hates storms and the sound/smell of guns. He would head to his den if he heard gunfire.

    We would die of starvation before eating any dog. I would not want to live in a world without them. Dogs are also an enormous comfort in times of stress.

    @LSB: re: “dumb dog” who does as he pleases, we call those “dog jokes”.

  13. john says:

    Dogs are like people. Some are stupid. Some are smart. I have a dog that is very smart. I take her to work with me every day. I am self employed and have a repair shop with a scrap yard and a fence. My dog is the guard dog in the day but I take her home at night.

    She knows she is the guard dog and knows she is supposed to try to scare strangers away. But the funny thing is she lays down and takes a break whenever I’m not there. People have told me they know when I am not there because my dog won’t bark and growl at them when I’m not there. So she is like a human and when the boss is gone, she stops working.

  14. sunflower says:

    My dog sort of knows preditor from plain stranger. When friend came up to garage (attached to house) to see if our car was inside, dog tackeled man down and held a moment. Dog did not like man so close to house, or maybe not so close to his dog bowl. My big dog does not seem to have good hearing. Little dog better ears. They work as a team.

    My dog has missing teeth. He has two good front paws. He sort of boxes and swings with arms. When my big dog stands, like to stop person he is not sure of, he will charge and stand, and then put one arm/paw on each shoulder of person to make decision before taking person to ground.

    If I am in very bad mood and groweling with my words, big dog will get stressed. I think dog thinks that I am yelling and griping at husband, not just general complaints that I get intensed about. I think dog thinks I might be mad at husband.When this happens, my dog will even growl at me to cut it out.

    My big dog is Great Pyrenese breed. He is a large male, about 160 pounds. My husband’s little dog is a Pekingnese, about 14 pounds.

    I have another story about a Doberman during personal protection situation, and a near downing insident when I slipped on moss when crossing a rock water fall in a flood control/river place. That dog saved me both events. I was about 13 years old when I had the Doberman, and had not yet learned to swim. I remember being in the 8th grade about. The next year I went to highschool and enrolled in swimming class for physical education.

    Long story short – all three dogs were sheltered dogs, all injuried/sick when adopted. Only doberman appeared young, about 1 year old, when we took her in. She had distemper. The GP was about 5 years old, and the Peke 6 years est.

    Our Great Pyrenese has heart warm, had infected ears and teeth at time of adoption. The little Pekingese is still scared from when former owner/neighbor throw her out of car when trying to get rid of her/kill her.

    When I left husband at hospital last year, the Pekingnese saw Paramedic haul him out on stretcher. When I came home to check on dogs, my husband’s dog was very upset. She kept trying to get my attention. It was very sad.

  15. steve says:

    Animals act on instinct and they ‘know’ things that humans seem not to be aware of. For example, before the tsunami hit a village along the shore in Asia, the birds in a cage a man had started to go wild. Startled, he immediately told his family to run immediately for the hills.
    He and his family were saved. Dogs have a ‘sense’ of things also.

  16. vince says:

    My aunt and uncle had a rottweiler. Nicest, most loving dog I every knew. So loyal that he defended our home from packs of stray dogs (this was out in the country) and diligently watched over us kids wherever we went. Really good rez dog. He chased off a few strangers we were suspicious of.

    My parents have a terrier mix. REALLY annoying but no one comes within 100 yards of the house without them knowing about it. He’s extremely smart. I’d be worried about him giving our position away in a bad situation, but he is very in tune to his people. He keeps track of everyone when we are out hiking and serves as an alarm in the house. He patrols rather diligently and thoroughly.

    I’d take either dog in a SHTF scenario. I don’t think Americans should necessarily assume we’ll end up in the same sort of break down that Selco lived through. So feeding a dog may or may not be a problem. If I were bugging out or moving through town I could see pluses and minuses of having a dog. It’d have to be well trained enough to know when to bark and when not to. A good dog naturally picks up on it’s masters cues. So all in all it’s hard to say.

  17. Tom W. says:

    Yes, as has been posted, dogs are man best friend. Loyal and befitting a member of the family.
    Some get it, some don’t. The Paris Hilton Status Purse dog is an example.

    However, the Warlock Blue Blood Doberman male I had as a child is another. Trained by Miami-Dade County K9 units, took orders in Swedish, loved my Mother unconditionally, and protected us without question.

    Saved my Sisters life, and was literally a true member of the family. Many dogs are “good” dogs. Few are fellow warriors that put it all on the line and simply get it….

    It’s called unconditional loyalty and love. Few humans even have that trait. Great dogs are pack animals, and with the right pack,…in my humble opinion, are an asset.

    Stay Safe.

    Tom W.

  18. Ian says:

    It really comes down to the individual dog. I’ve worked for my father’s veterinary clinic for around 8 years on and off, and I’ve seen all kinds of dogs. If the dog is well trained, and has an appropriate disposition for your location and the situation, it can be a huge help. But in some situations it can be a hindrance.

    When SHTF, large and medium sized dogs can be a huge benefit in the country or more rural areas, because they can be used to hunt, and well trained dogs can kill more game than they need to eat, and can be pretty self sustaining. However, you’re gonna be in big trouble if you’ve got a Great Dane or an Mastiff to feed in a city.

    Conversely most lap-dogs and ankle biters are not going to be of any use, except for in exceptional cases. Unless you’ve got something bred to hunt (dachshunds, some terriers etc.) they also won’t be very useful in the country.

    Also, a fat table-scrap-eater of any breed isn’t gonna be of much help. And an untrained dog is not practical at all (even in non-SHTF). So, if you have a dog: exercise yourself and your dog and walk it.

    But as I stated above, it all really depends on the dog as an individual, and how compatible it is for your group and the situation (which is the same thing I tell people who are looking for a pet).

  19. I really can’t help much. I grew up with dogs, but we lived in farming country. They were watchdogs, but we didn’t expect much in the way of protection from them. When I was stationed in Thailand we had a dog (ironically, got it the day after we were burglarized). Again, she was a watchdog. We wanted warning from her, not defense. Same with the dog we got after we returned to the US. Watchdog, providing warning but not defense. Now my pets are two cats. They don’t provide either warning or defense. My concern is that in a protracted SHTF situation, I’d have to kill the cats. We stock about the same number of days food for them as we do for ourselves.

    I agree, in a protracted SHTF situation, dog’s won’t be effective as defensive means. At best they’ll provide warning only. And they probably won’t survive the first attack on your place.

    • jsmith says:

      Cats can provide mouse/rat control, and they can be relatively self-supporting if necessary. I have three cats and, though I certainly stockpile stores of dry cat food, they could hunt for their own dinner if the going got tough.

      • Sigi says:

        My thoughts exactly (and same number of cats)!

        We had a cat when I was a teen, whose name was Misha. When we were packing to move he was neglected and stood at his bowl, meowing to draw our attention to his desire for dinner. After a few minutes he headed outside, killed a bird, brought it in and dropped it in his bowl. He meowed his chastisement of us, ate the bird, then went out and did it again. Thanks to this intrepid tom, I have little doubt our current pride would be able to fend for themselves and rid us of pantry and garden pests if we couldn’t afford to feed them.

        As for dogs- we had beautiful Alsatian guard dogs when I was a kid. Any chance they got to eat gopher, they were like kids in a candy store.

  20. Midatlantic Prepper says:

    I agree that in a True Violent SHTF situation, Dogs would be a liability. At least i a urban setting. In a really rural area with low population they would serve to alert, hunt game and herd or protect livestock prom predators. But in a highly populated area, they would be killed outright and probably eaten.

    I have trained and bred dogs for over a quarter of a century. I Have had some really tough hard dogs, That have taken out many bad people. But in a SHTF, WROL situation where people are highly armed and panicked, with no fear of legal indictment, Dogs would not stand a chance.

    During the recovery phase after things had calmed down, They would be a valuable asset. If any were left.

    • grower says:

      I live in a rural area, and we have several dogs. They are all big dogs, and some are livestock guardian dog (LGD) breeds. The LGDs can and have killed their own food — groundhogs, rabbits, chipmunks, etc. They are not only a good warning, but a deterrent. If anyone approached the house at night, they would hear several very large, deep-voiced dogs sounding the alarm. And since we are not a very impressive little homestead, they might just decide it would be easier and more profitable to go find a softer target for their predations. There is no question in my mind that humans are more important than dogs, and if the situation were dire enough, we could eat the dogs. It wouldn’t be easy, because the dogs have been faithful and loyal, and have undoubtedly kept us from harm on more than one occasion. However, in our location and situation, I see the dogs as more of an asset than a problem.

  21. David says:

    I agree with what Selco says about an urban situation. In a rural situation dogs can be VERY useful for hunting, because of their great sense of smell. They can find small game which you would not find. So when you need food.. your dog can help.

  22. Richard Marsh says:

    In the last census it was estimated there were 310 million americans.

    However, something you all might find interesting, it is estimated there are over 300 million cats and dogs!

    Yes, when the SHTF there will be meat IF you are willing to eat Fido and Boots.

    It is NOT a good idea to share food (especially when you’re hungry) with a pet, unless, you are planning to eat them sometime in the future.

    Dogs, especially, can give your position away when they bark. Not smart when you’re trying to hide and remain low key.

    I have eaten both dogs and cats and they aren’t bad especially when made into a soup or stew.

    So, there you have it.

  23. john says:

    There are dogs that are good for defense, but these are expensive dogs with lots of expensive training. They are taught to bite the hand that holds a gun or other weapon. Ordinary people do not have these dogs.

    Everybody likes to brag how great his/her dog is but the reality is most dogs(at least 75%) are completely useless for anything other than being your friend.

  24. dee says:

    We used to have a lab and it was the friendliest dog, it would bark, but that was about it. We now have a cat and we’re sure that if trouble were to come our way, he would run and hide, andon his way he would point out where we would be hiding.

  25. Daniel says:

    I’m glad you brought this story up Selco. I miss my old dog and he has been gone for years. Some dogs are adept at sensing things and alerting you.

    I think if I lived in your situation that I would keep the dog inside most of the time. I would take it outside to pee and poop only for a short while. As for defense, I suspect most dogs would only fight if there was a fight inside your home or there was another dog.

    I would give a suggestion to any good dog owners. Invest in training your dog (and yourself). I lived in Germany for a few years and one thing that caught me by surprise is dogs inside the restaurants. It was actually very common to see a dog sitting beside his master at the table. Patiently sitting or laying down and not begging for scraps. The owners carried leashes by law, however you could tell that they were not necessary. The discipline that was instilled in both the dog and owner was impressive.

    If you had that kind of discipline in you and your dog, then I would accept that as a good partner to come with me to the market. That dog’s senses would come in handy in some shady areas. Dogs know predators and they know when one has the intent too.

  26. missj says:

    our dog is a pit bull mix. we live in the country. she is old and still very useful. All I really need to justify her monthly food bill is her ears. My husband drives an old car and she alerts me that he is coming usually 3 minutes before he gets to our house. She lets us know when any person or animal is on our property immediately whether it is the Fedex guy, or coyotes, or Racoons. Just 3 days ago there was a runaway black lab that was harassing our chickens and messing up our garden. Our dog let us know immediately there was trouble…chickens would have probably been dead without her warning.

  27. Lonnie says:

    Well, this article is so interesting because I’m a dog person and have thought about what would happen to the dogs in a SHTF situation. I like to think I wouldn’t have a problem eating stranger dogs but would probably cry while I ate my own. My preference would be for them to die peacefully and then immediately dress them out. Come on, it’s just common sense!
    3 of them are big and scary looking and they’re the reason I can walk late at night but I also know that for the most part they wouldn’t be much for defense against an armed opponent- they’re not trained for that and I think the suggestion to invest in training is a good one. But I also believe that they can sense things I can’t.
    About 6 years ago I lived in a fly-in community up north where I had to keep my dogs inside most of the time because of thrown rocks and that kind of thing. This one time we were walking in the early evening near a forested area and were going to pass by a man who was a little ways ahead and off to the side who was cutting across our path and the dogs went nuts! I only had 3 at the time but they were younger and stronger and they were all snapping and snarling and lunging and I had to fight to keep hold of them! He took off running, throwing terrified looks over his shoulder. It was so unusual for them to be so aggressive to a human – I thought that maybe he’d been throwing things at them and they recognized his scent.
    But everyone I tell that story to says that the dogs sensed that the man was going to try something with me/us and they sensed the threat. And they’ve never done that again since that time.
    Dogs are pack animals and will accept being of lower status if they have a good leader – kind of like people that way. I think that even if all they can do is give early warnings of danger then they would be useful.

    • dkclaymore says:

      Dogs in SHTF are usefull only as a warning system and for moral in a family (kids i.e. have something to do). If you have a dog, work with him in that direction, not just “go, get the ball” but teach him searching family members or objects (fun to play with kids,let your kid hide and make the dog find him).

      As for warnings observe and learn dogs reactions and the way he barks at different people and situations.
      Dogs have different personalities and some are braver,some are smarter.(My dog is an idiot but with limited things he can do, I`m happy. Anyway dogs take a lot of personality from owner also 😉
      About howling we have a saying that you must observe where the dog is generaly pointed to and someone in that direction will die within 3 days (easy detection in small places, not so in a city). Of course he will howl also if his girlfriend is locked away :-)))

      You don`t need any special training to teach your dog these things,just spend time with him since he is small,get to know him and what to expect from him.
      Remember,whatever you teach him,he will know it,there is no right or wrong word for a command or something; only thing is the dog must trust you completely, you may not betray him.

  28. Stephanie says:


    I too lived trough the balkan wars, I was living with a family outside Sarajevo and when the siege began, we left in the hopes to escape the country, fortunately none of the family members where inside Sarajevo when the siege began.

    The family had two dogs and we took both with us, they where some sort of mixed breed, larger dogs, a bit larger than german shepards. We would not have gotten out of the country nore survided without those dogs.

    Today I and my family has two dogs and three cats and when/if tshtf we would not get rid of any of them, the dogs are Berger Belge and excellent guard/watchdogs and the cats are large mix breads, the cats can feed them selfes and would not be a burden for us. The dogs would get what they need and we also have about 2 years (4 if we ration it) of cat/dog dry food in storage.

  29. Dawg says:

    I was an Army Dawg trainer for the Army in the 70’s. Trained by the DoD. Used Dawgs in many counties. A trained dawg will save lives in a SHTF time. Very little training is needed to have them tell you that a person or group are comming to your area. My group of friends have 6 dawgs trained and ready for SHTF. I have one that I use to find people lost or have died in the woods. If you are thinking of having a dawg for SHTF just buy a good book on the subject and read it. It could save your life. Many dawgs will be running around if SHTF happens. My life has been saved a few times due to my dawgs and will always have one ready. Thank you for the story, I enjoyed it as I have all you have posted.
    You were a very brave man during the war going on around you. My hat is off to you and four paws up from my dawg.

  30. Larry says:

    I have almost always had dogs, just mix breed family dogs, for the most part. Now I have a Beauceron female,( sort of a cross between shep and lab.) She’s a bit smaller than a shep. Glossy black, with orange/tan/cream markings on legs and face. My wife has a small “ankle-biter” mix breed, that looks like an unmade bed, or straw pile. They tolerate eachother, but are great alarms if anyone comes around. Even my wife’s dog prefers me, and will come and sleep at my feet. They both respect me as leader of the pack. Would I eat them, if things got that bad? yeah, I also have an old horse, that has gone blind, but the way things are going, I keep her around, as a walking pile of meat, for us and the dogs. I have 5 acres, and she keeps the yard mowed, so I guess she is earning her keep. The dogs were fed dry packaged dog food, but now I’m switching them over to a diet of mostly game meat, and rice. They are doing well on it, and eat less, and leave less “waste” to clean up. They’ll be a lot easier to keep fed in hard times.

  31. Sandy Taylor says:

    I know this article is about dogs. But just for your consideration and for the few comments that have been made about cats, I wanted to share a little something.

    As a general rule, cats can fend for themselves. Or not. But most can, or can if push came to shove.

    But it’s the early warning system in cats that’s the real benefit.

    Some cats are just dumb house cats, like some dogs are just dumb house dogs. But some cats have real predatory and protective instincts. I’ve been fortunate to have many a wary and alert cat in my life, and I can ALWAYS tell if something is wrong from their body language. They alert me to simple things, like someone coming up to the house door, to more important things, like wild fires coming our way, strange creatures in the yard in the middle of the night, or when a bump in the night is just a bump, or if it’s the kind of bump I need to pull out the Glock for. They KNOW, and they’ll tell you if you listen. Quietly.

    I learned more about situational awareness from watching cats than I ever did from a human being.

    ~ Sandy Taylor

    • Selco says:

      @Sandy Taylor
      Thank you for sharing, and feel free to comment because it is not only about dogs, it is about pets in general in time when SHTF, i just give one example with this story about dog.

  32. Jose says:

    I have a GSD that is terrified of storms. In tornado alley, I trust her instincts more than the weatherman. Her bark is very loud too, so in peace time, I’m sure it makes burglars think twice.

    Dogs are easy to fool and no match for humans. However, as part of the pack with man as the leader, a dog’s instinct, smell and hearing can forewarn danger before humans can perceive it. For SHTF, a small dog would be better because it eats less and provides the same alert warning system as a big dog. Plus it is easier to take along.

  33. Cindy says:

    Some dogs can be trained to only bark on command. Both of our rottweilers will give us low warning growls. The kind that make the hair stand up on my arms. They then look to us and wait for commands; stand quietly on alert, go lay down, bark and hold, or take someone down.

    Training is a daily thing with us. Not just for possible bad situations, but to stay fit and ensure they are accustomed to all types of people and scenarios. A well socialized dog has much less fears and is better able and willing to work with you.

    We prep for our dogs in the same manner we prep for ourselves. They have their own backpacks and can carry their own three day supply of food, water, and their first aid kits if we have to bug out. Even though they are big dogs, they are quite good at catching small prey; mice, squirrels, snakes. And are excellent at flushing out larger game.

    Mostly they are our companions, but are an excellent early warning team.

  34. Tammy says:

    I think part of what makes us human is our love for our pets. That part of humanity would be a terrible loss. I look at my little ankle biter (our UPS delivery guy laughs at her when she tries to attack him) and hope to hell I don’t have to make any hard decisions about her in the future.

  35. mariowen says:

    I have three small Shih Tzu dogs, and they would be no help for defense, but they certainly are great alarm dogs. If you needed a quiet, hiding situation, you will not be able to do it. Their alarm bells are not the turn off/turn on kind. They bark when they sense someone or something.

    They are family. I will not eat them – ever. I have stored lots and lots of dog food for them. For me, they are children in the family and I would treat them as such.

    They are companions such as Selco mentioned in his story. Short of that, they are of not much use.

    Just a note: Shih Tzu’s are not known for great intelligence!!

  36. BC says:

    My dog is almost exactly as Rikki described her dog. We moved to a rural area a few years ago, and our dog adapted faster than we did. After I figured out that she was warning us, we began to train her responses to company. If visitors are friends she knows, she barks loudly while wagging her tail. If a visitor is new to our dog, she growls deep in her chest. The St. Bernard deep-in-the-chest growl is most defiantly a scary warning.

    She is part of our family for sure. There was a small incident here last year when a strange dog came onto our property when the grand kids were playing out back. She tore out after that other dog with that deep-in-the-chest growl and at a dead run. The other dog, wisely, left in a hurry. I had never seen our dog so ferocious! The (city) grand kids were scared of our dog’s reaction to the other dog. After I explained that she was protecting them from the other dog, they were thrilled that our 110 pound fuzzball would protect them.

    I have no idea if she’d be much more than a target in a fight. But I do know she earns her keep here every day, and if it gets really bad, I’ll share my food with her.

  37. Cache Valley Prepper says:

    I read about a gunfighter and tracker in the old West named O. P. Rockwell. He trained a small white dog to lick his face to wake him up instead of barking when people approached. He was somewhat of a lone wolf and it saved his bacon a time or two when he was drunk or sleeping. The little dog would ride behind his saddle on his horse with him. He used the dog as a sort of biological silent alarm system. Another noteworthy thing about him is that he would always carry pistols in his pockets so he could keep a grip on them without alarming people as opposed to wearing a holstered sidearm.

  38. Jon says:

    My dogs can hear people showing up at the house before we do. So we tend to pay attention when they bark. The Shepard/Husky mix I had in SC wouldn’t let my girlfriend leave one day for a walk. The dog sat in front of the door and tried to bite her hand when she reached for the door knob. The dog never bit her before, and didn’t really bite her this time. However, it was clear she didn’t want my girlfriend leaving the house. Within about 5 minutes there was a drive-by shooting a block from our house in the direction she wanted to walk. She heard the shots inside the house, and immediately stopped trying to leave the house. After it was oven, the dog acted normal again (she loved going outside for walks).

    • Mark says:

      I live in SC and have a husky/shepherd mix too. He is smart as a whip, without any training at all he seemed to know what we were saying in normal English.

      He is a good “alarm” system, but not terribly brave. He is terrified of thunder storms and loud noises like fireworks.

  39. sunflower says:

    I visited with a former neighbor today. She was at her shop. I asked her some questions about how to prepare for financial collapse. She said Food, and Cash (in that order). I told her I was surprised about Cash. I asked why not gold or silver, she said yes to those for extra big monies, but not for crisis. She mentioned Gardens. Large gardens is what every one had in her homeland Russia.

    I asked her how to keep hungry people from family food, and I asked about fuel. She said that homes in Russia are different than US. Family home had large strong wall around for privacy. Family had large garden, parents never buy potatoes and regular grocery stuff. Mother canned and dried meat. They canned meat too.

    When asked about security, her eyes got big.. She said “that is why you have gun and dog.” I repeated her phrase. She affirmed “of course.”

    The dog, garden, and cash parts all caught my attention. She told me that men carry saches in Russia (to hold their cash). She emphasized to stay out of banks. She said Euro and Rupples were much better than FRN back home.

    I asked her if Euros would be wise to have in USA. She said NO. Of course not. Only FDR. I asked about coins. She saids bills/notes better than dollar coins and smaller coinage.

  40. Bear falling out of tree says:

    Dogs aren’t the only useful animals. I have two unnaturally large housecats, brother and sister. The sister is so reliable about running and hiding when people approach our house, that I use her as an early alarm for guests, workmen, etc. She always sleeps next to me at night, so I use the comfort of knowing that everyting is well outside to fall asleep.

    Her brother is not so reliable a watchcat, and often growls and runs to the window when he hears coyotes, dogs, storms or any other strange noise, so I have to watch his sister to know if our visitors are people. The boy cat, however, is a natural hunter and has cornered half a dozen scorpions, and more spiders than I can count before my toddlers can get to them and get stung.

  41. AJ says:

    I have an old mixed breed dog who is an excellent judge of character. I would shoot based on that dog’s reaction to someone.
    I wouldn’t want my dog to fight for me, but as an alert system, a dog is hard to beat.

  42. alc says:

    I grew up in Hawaii. We had dogs that we usually found abandoned, etc. Those dogs would have given their lives to defend us. We had to keep them inside the house so they’d not get stolen etc. Yes they eat dogs there. Sometimes, sometimes almost all the time, we didn’t have very much food, so I remember we’d cook up rice for the dogs. I remember one time that was pretty bad, noticing how you could see our dogs’ bones. Of course our *own* bones stood out too. Because the dogs were always there and always someone at the house, we had OK defense, for peaceful times. It will be all-out war there someday and “haoles” will not survive unless they can prevail over (translation: kill) the other 75% of the population, and that would be awful so frankly my advice is to do what I did and leave. But if you have to live in a hostile, dangerous place, a dog can save your life.

    Where I live now, a dog could be useful for telling me when there are coyotes, possums, raccoons etc. around, as well as hostile people. An intelligent alarm.

  43. usa woman says:

    Went on a medical mission to Cambodia. For breakfast we were served a sweet kind of meat. Very tasty. No one would tell us what it was but since everyone was eating it, I did too. Some people thought it was dog and some thought it was rat. The point is, one will eat anything if necessary. Sitting at home now, I can hardly believe I did it. The point is, circumstances can definitely change your ideas and your palate.

    • alc says:

      Probably rat. Dog is a delicacy. I used to worry (a bit) about eating dog when I was a kid, then I realized they’d not waste it on those not appreciative. I may have eaten it, but give me pua’a (pig) any time, nice and fatty.

      Soldiers in WWI ate dog, and a lot of peoples, read up on Lewis and Clark. A lot of dogs will probably reach their finest hour on the dinner plate, but some are better people than most people are.

      (RIP Bowser and Terry. Not to mention Crypto, Kathy, Snoopy, Paco, and many I can’t think of at the moment )

  44. chester says:

    Good topic! In ranching we use dogs from hunting wild game to an ‘alert system.’ Depending on breed do have a role in defense (or offense) tactics. In home invasion (right breed) can buy you time for repelling an attack. Make a great companions too.

  45. Chris C says:

    I’d just like to go in a slightly different direction, here. I’ve owned both dogs and cats for many years. And, I can honestly say, cats can be as alert as dogs when it comes to listening for odd noises at night. If I watch my cat’s movements, I could tell what side of the house you were sneaking around to, and even what door you were about to try and open, without hearing a noise for myself. She could even tell if it was a stranger or someone she knows, by the tell-tale noises of the person.

    Dog, cat, squirrel, whatever.. An animal with a high sense of hearing can be very useful.

  46. Blackwater says:

    In your region I assume you are familiar with the Šarplaninac?
    Get some

    I am a biased believer from real world experience that a well trained K9 can be a force multiplier.
    Ask any Seal or Green Beret, K9 police unit team member.
    They wouldn’t waste their time if they weren’t.

    Just a short list of what they can do beyond early warning system.
    Defense protection, attack opfors, tracking, herding, hunting, bomb sniffing, search and rescue & disaster work, not to mention my Rott’s made great babysitters when my children were young. Wouldn’t even let my ex-wife go near them, she hated those dogs! Made me love them even more! lol. Did I mention they also seem to have a great sense of human character? I have yet to meet anyone my dogs didn’t like that I found I could trust. Seriously.

  47. Cavernator says:

    Hello. I read about the dogs, and i whant to said my experience about.
    I hoppe than you will be cool with my english speaking, because i am french and i don’t speak english so well.
    In the 90’s, i have a little garage\shop for old motorbikes spare parts.
    In the same time, I have got a dog, it is a hound , a Barzoi, (lévrier russe in french) ans it is a dog who have a good part of wild in him.
    What my best friend and me whe have looking during this years, it is than some time, some customers are comming to my shop, and the dog don’t move from the office.
    He just look at them and comme back to sleep.
    For some others customers, before than they have put one foot out of they car, the dog whas going outside, and turning around the car and bark all the time (one thing than the barzoi don’t do it often) and whas grunting them . during all the time than they stay here.
    What we have know about that, is than the people who are ok the dog said nothing.
    For the people than the dog whas grunting them , it is all the time some fuckers. Bad persons who are trying to stolle something, or who make some troubles.
    After this observation, whe know very well what the mater if the dog was grunting, be carefull and don’t trust that people, or some time eject them directly .
    I can said than in all the situations, the dog have benn right about the fuckers.
    So iff you have dogs, trust them , because they know better than us who is comming.

  48. Tommy says:

    I have a few words/thoughts about animals in SHTF scenario. We currently have 1 dog & 2 cats, the dog, Keeshond (wolf spitz in Germany). He’s 65 pounds and furry (looks bigger), a great alarm system and watch dog. They were bred in Holland to guard barges, hence their name in Holland (Dutch barge dog). The barge captain could go to town and rest assured his stuff would still be there when he returned. They also don’t mind being confined to small spaces.
    One time I locked myself out of the house and had to break a window to get back inside. I climbed through the bedroom window while he remained around the corner of the wall, growling in his throat like he was possessed. Scared the crap out of me, I thought he was going to eat me up. I was saying,”It’s okay buddy, it’s daddy, calling his name, etc.” He wouldn’t stop, so I reluctantly poked my head around the corner so he could see me and he started wagging his tail and ran to me. I thought he would recognize my voice or my scent, but he wasn’t going for it. Made me feel a little better about my home defenses that day.
    One of my cats woke me one night, and I yelled at him for pouncing on me. When I awoke he was standing on my chest, looking straight up at the ceiling. There was a scorpion crawling out of the AC vent above the bed. Good Kitty….

  49. Mike says:

    Dogs are good people.

    A good dog will help to keep your love alive in a world gone completely stupid.

    I have thought very seriously about hunger. I think that my enemy will be food for my dogs and myself if it comes to eat or die.

  50. Pitt says:

    I fall under the prepping for my pets group of people. I feel like my dogs would be a huge asset during the SHTF. I train dogs for schutzhund, a german dogsport, that emcompasses tracking, obedience and protection of their handler. The sport was designed as a breeding suitability test for the German Shepard Dog, but many different breeds are used for the sport now.

    My chosen breed is the American Pit Bull Terrier. My dogs are powerful and have an incredible working drive. With some training they have been taught to ignore poisoned foods. They are powerful visual deterrents and have proven to be able protectors of home and hearth. We have owned over a dozen working pitbulls over the last 15yrs and some of our dogs have literally stopped a few home invasion attempts in the past.

    That being said, I would want a more aggressive, territorial breed in a SHTF situation, because to be honest, the pitbulls are just too sweet tempered to defend the house without direction.

    • Woodgnome says:

      I’ve got an English Bull Mastiff. Mine, at least, acts just like a larger Pit Bull.

      On top of that, he’s a great judge of character. 9/10 people, he’ll run up to, wagging his tail and rubbing up against their legs. Granted, 150Ibs of mastiff is a bit disconcerting, if you haven’t met one before, but really he’s the friendliest dawg you’d want to meet… unless… you’re one of the 10% or so that he DOESN’T like! In the house, it’s not a problem, as he’ll just stand there staring at you, growling. As long as you don’t make any sudden moves, then that’s all he’ll do.

      Take him outside and he HAS to be on a leash. Firstly because he’s not remotely so restrained about anyone he doesn’t like the look (smell?) of. And secondly cos the dozy mutt thinks it’s hilarious to run for it and have you spend half an hour trying to catch him. And he doesn’t have any sense of danger when it comes to moving vehicles, for some reason, so he’d probably get ran over.

      So far, we’ve only stored enough food for about 3 months for the dawg – though, luckily, he doesn’t actually eat all that much for a big boy. And will cheerfully devour ANY sort of leftovers, rats (you wouldn’t think a mastiff could catch ’em, but he does!), squirrels, etc. He ain’t bad at grabbing fish out of the stream, either, if he gets the chance. Prefers them cooked, though, which might mean we get to share if he gets one in a SHTF situation. Seems a fair division of labour to me! ;-}

  51. tayronachan says:

    Dogs are very good early warning systems and can give you a few seconds. This works especially well if you have a fenced yard and let the dog run. Houses with large dogs are less likely to be broken into also. I have two dogs for this very reason. Mine have already ‘alerted’ and helped catch one burgler, and one arsonist that were creeping around the neighbors house. They are good compaions also.

  52. Big Bad Dog says:

    My dogs tree bears and a mountain lion, nuff said, Wolf…

  53. Valerie says:

    My mother, my brother and I owed our lives to our German Shepard. My mom was knocked downed (by a cow) in front of a boar. The boar charged and the dog jumped in front of her until she could get up and away. He then, a few years later, growled at Mom when she tried to go outside. Turns out there was a cougar circling the house, and my brother and I would have walked into her path.

    My male cat hates people as a general rule. Normally he will ignore them, but if he hisses at someone and shows his fangs, don’t trust them. He has yet to be wrong.

    If you have a pet, you must honestly assess their abilities and liabilities just like any other member of your family or group. You must plan for their needs, food, medicine and training.

  54. Wildfire says:

    I agree with most of you. I have already purchased a soft muzzle for my small dog and am getting one for my new puppy. Dogs are best for companionship, warming, they read people well if to trust them or not, keeping children and old comforted in times of stress. Have 5-7 45lb bags of dog food in your preps and cut way back on what you feed them in a survival situation so it can last as long as possible. Training our new pup to be calm and quiet (she already stays right at our feet) is the goal along with the rest of it. If you have a hunting dog, that could be useful at some point. But, your dog may be the first sacrifice in SHTF if you are attacked. If you can tie them, muzzle them if there is trouble, that is best. But, I think I would rather have my dog die in a fire fight than someone else kill it and eat it. Dogs are amazing and will always surprise you in a weird situation. I cherish their friendship as much as anything in my life. Dogs have saved millions of lives, been soldiers, police officers, eyes for the blind and so much more. God’s gift.

    • chuck b says:

      I made the comment once that, in a “Katrina” type situation, as soon as I finished what was in my refrigerator and before I started opening cans and storage foods, I would start harvesting the “released” pets while they were still healthy. Lots of high-quality protein that will be wasted by people that had no preps; a .22lr will be the primary harvester of food for the first couple weeks. Somewhere between “domestic” and “feral,” it would actually be the more humane thing to do for them. No, I’m not “sick,” I love my dog and my cats, and that’s WHY I think a merciful death is preferable to a long, drawn-out, hungry-and-sick-and-fighting existence. Once they are dead (euthanized), why NOT use the protein to support those that have a better chance of survival? What “honor” is lost by not being wasted?

      Chuck B.

  55. Rachel says:

    I’m laughing, Mine are So funny too. I Came on here to See is anyone is Doing what I am, training my AHT American hairless Terriers and Mexican hairless Xolo to Be Ready for a ShtF situation.
    SO FAR I see no one actually doing so.

  56. Rachel says:

    schutzhund,interesting will have to look this up What about Small Breeds than 3 under 20 LBS and Im trying to train hand Signals and grunts. so I can quiet them or make them follow me hide, Im not Wanting then to attack Just follow my Commands Infallibly.

  57. Daryl Coda says:

    Cool article. Make sure to give your cat some tactical training as well. Check out the video of how I train my cat for a grid-down emergency:

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