How to Train Your Dog to Call 9-1-1

Hard
4-6 Months
Work

Introduction

You never know when you're going to need help and no one is going to be around to offer it. If you have a dog and potentially serious medical emergencies, you can train your dog to dial 911 for you. This is a common training for service dogs who help their medically challenged owners when they help is necessary. Dogs who are trained for emergencies are not only their owner’s pets and companions but also lifesavers. Dog owners from elderly to diabetic owners and owners who have a history of seizures may have dogs trained to call 911 when their owner is in trouble. If you would like your dog to be trained to help save your life, teach him to dial 911 when you have an emergency.

Defining Tasks

Specialty service dogs may be trained to recognize when blood sugar levels are low or when a owner’s heart rhythm changes or when their owner’s breathing changes. Training your dog to call 911 could help if an owner stops breathing altogether. A service dog is specifically trained to serve their owner. Training your dog to call 911 can go above and beyond the full-service dog training or you can train your dog to dial 911 without him being a service dog. Teaching your dog to call 911 is fairly easy to do. However, teaching your dog when to call 911 will depend on your medical condition and how well your dog is trained in recognizing that condition. A dog over the age of one year is the best age to teach this responsibility. Because this is such an advanced training, be prepared to spend a lot of time teaching your dog how to save your life. Some service dogs take a year or more learning their job.

Getting Started

To get started, you will need a phone or device your dog can use reach that is programmed to dial Emergency Services. Some service animals will have a specific service phone while other owners used a base telephone with one button programmed to dial 911. While training your dog, you are going to want to offer him lots of tasty treats. Be patient and consistent and remember to keep the phone or device in the same area at all times, so your dog knows exactly where to go when it is time to call for help.

The Programmed Phone Method

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Programmed Phone method for Call 9-1-1
Step
1
Introduce the phone
Without having 911 programmed on a speed dial button, your dog can be introduced a phone he would use to call 911.
Step
2
Prepare
Depending on your medical condition or your command such as ‘get help,’ prepare your dog to push that button when necessary.
Step
3
Repeat command
If your dog is a trained service dog, he will be trained to detect specific fluctuations with your medical condition such as a drop in sugar levels or brain activity changes for someone who may have seizures. If you have conditions where you are alert, and you want to teach your dog the ‘get help’ command, use the command every time you take your dog near the phone and show him the button.
Step
4
Practice
Using the command get help. Have your dog push the button with his nose over the course of several days as you train the command.
Step
5
Programming phone
Once your dog is used to command ‘get help’ and he understands when you say those words he needs to push the button on the phone, program that speed dial button to call 911.
Step
6
Command
When you use your command words ‘get help,’ your dog should go directly to that particular phone and push the button with his nose.
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The Using Technology Method

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Using Technology method for Call 9-1-1
Step
1
Introduce device
Technology has made dialing 911 easier for our pets. Your dog can dial 911 from a touch screen TV or tablet. Introduce this responsibility to your dog in a similar way you would introduce a telephone with a speed dial button.
Step
2
Exploration
Let your dog explore the device by sniffing it, licking it, and touching it with his nose.
Step
3
Command
Teach your dog a command such as ‘call 911,’ and show him how to use the device by touching his nose to the screen to call for help. This is highly advanced, so it will take several tries to get him to make the connection.
Step
4
Medical understanding
Dogs are extremely sensitive to their owner’s body changes. For instance, your dog, without being a service trained dog, may notice changes in your blood sugar levels or your brainwave activity levels and predict something happening before it happens. Teach your dog when these changes occur to use the touchscreen on the device to call for help.
Step
5
Practice
Practice these commands in real-time situations with a service training organization or within your own home by repeating the steps above in real life rehearsals.
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The Small Step Method

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Small Step method for Call 9-1-1
Step
1
Command ‘Call 911”
Teach your dog a command first, so he understands what it means when he hears the command.
Step
2
Repeat command with actions
Review and perform any actions required with the command ‘call 911.’ As you say the command, have your dog follow you to the phone.
Step
3
Handset and buttons
With your dog watching and you repeating the constant command ‘call 911,’ roll the handset off of the phone and push the speed dial button you will have programmed to dial 911 once training is complete.
Step
4
Repeat
Repeat this step several times with your dog, so he sees you performing the action and saying the command. Each time you are done performing the task, offer your dog a treat.
Step
5
Pratice
Continue to practice the action and commands together with your dog watching and participating. When your dog can go directly to the phone and begin to do it himself after watching you and hearing the command, move on to the next step.
Step
6
Association
Once your dog has associated the command ‘call 911’ with the actions of rolling the receiver off of the phone and pushing a button, position yourself away from the phone in a place where you may need help and repeat the command ‘call 911.’
Step
7
Dog in motion
If your dog rushes to your aid when you say ‘call 911,’ keep repeating the command. Your dog should recognize the command and relate it to the action of going to the phone, rolling the receiver off, and pushing a button.
Step
8
Wait patiently
Give your dog several minutes to connect the dots. If after several minutes he has not, repeat the command, walk over to the phone, repeat the actions, and practice those steps until you can do it independently again in hopes your dog will go to the phone on his own.
Step
9
Keep at it
Keep practicing this. This is a highly advanced service dog command. Do not expect your dog to get this overnight. It may take several 5 to 10 minute sessions a couple of times a day for several months. Don't overwhelm your dog with too much training at a time, and be sure to reward him when he does well.
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Success Stories and Training Questions

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