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Last year, Alaska had a major 7.0 earthquake! It was centered pretty much right where we live. This wasn’t our first earthquake, but it was definitely our biggest, scariest one!
The shaking from the initial big earthquake lasted over 30 seconds, which seems like an eternity when you’re in the middle of it. It was pretty terrifying for both us and our dogs. Read on for some tips on how to get your dogs through earthquakes safely.
Did Our Dogs Sense The Earthquake?
The earthquake started while Dan was making coffee and I was getting breakfast ready. Roxy and Rico had just eaten and were lounging in front of the fireplace.
I’ve heard that animals can sense earthquakes before they happen, but it took a few seconds after the shaking began for R&R to really notice. They hadn’t been overly anxious the days leading up to the earthquake, either.
Teach Your Dog A Strong Recall
Having a strong recall is a vital skill for your dog’s health, especially during earthquakes! It can keep them from danger so they stay safe.
If you have a frequent word or phrase that’s guaranteed to bring your dog to you, such as calling out come here or treats!, practice getting your dog to respond by coming quickly.
This will help build the foundation to keep them safe during an earthquake.
Mentally Map Out Your Safe Room Plans Now
Roxy and Rico both reacted perfectly to the earthquake, even though they were scared. They ran over and dashed between my legs, and I knelt down with them as we were in a safe spot away from any possible falling hazards.
One thing I hadn’t considered was our windows possibly breaking. We were in the kitchen when it started and stayed in place. It wasn’t until I saw photos from nearby houses that I realized how lucky we were with minimal issues at our house and no broken windows.
In hindsight, I would have moved us all over to our guest bathroom. It’s a windowless room with no fixtures that could topple over, and they could be contained in it after the shaking stops to keep them from getting injured while we clean up.
If you don’t have a room like this, aim to gather everyone under a sturdy table to keep objects from falling on you. Keep your dogs close and try to keep them from running around and possibly getting cut on falling picture frames, glass, or broken plates.
Try to stay put while the shaking is going on to keep from falling down and injuring yourself and others.
Remain Alert For Aftershocks
The initial earthquake shook us hard, and only a few minutes later we were hit with a strong 5.7 aftershock. This one had the pups panicked and they started barking at the house shaking and the windows rattling.
We continued to have strong aftershocks in the days after the initial quake. Aftershocks are any earthquakes that have the same epicenter as the original earthquake.
For an earthquake like ours in November, they expect aftershocks to continue for up to two years after the initial quake!
The pups are still a bit anxious since we do still get occasional shakes. Roxy is typically our calmer, more chill pup, but she was shaking like a leaf after the earthquake and barks when she notices aftershocks.
Keep a Current Collar/Tag on Your Dog
I mentioned the importance of keeping an up-to-date collar on your dog at all times in “Lost Dog? 4 Things You Need to Do”, and I want to emphasize that again. Boomerang Tags are AWESOME and quiet, which we all love.
Microchipping your pet is another great way to help them be reunited with your family if they get lost. In the hours after the earthquake, there were SO many posts looking for dogs that had panicked and escaped.
The ID tag and microchip are the best ways of getting your dog back home.
Walk The Fence Line and/or Keep Your Dog Leashed
Fences can fail during earthquakes, so don’t let your dog out on their own until you’ve inspected the fence line. Look for fallen panels or holes in the fence that your pet can squeeze through, and verify there’s nothing that could injure your dog.
Make sure the gate is closed and locked. If it’s dark out, or you normally let your dog out off-leash, keep them on a leash, because strong aftershocks can happen for many hours after the earthquake. Don’t take the risk of your dog getting spooked and darting off!
Have a Neighbor Check In If You’re Away From Home
I’m so, so thankful we were home with the pups when the earthquake hit. We originally had plans to meet up for an event and were going to leave the house at 9am.
The earthquake hit at 8:30am, so luckily we were still home. I can’t even imagine how panicked I’d be if we had been away, even though we would’ve been just on the other side of town.
This was a good reminder to have a neighbor that can check on your house and pets if you’re not home during an event like this. Cell towers were overloaded, but texts were still getting through, and our neighborhood Facebook group was still available and helping each other out by checking on family members and pets.
Having someone willing to check your house and make sure your pets are uninjured is a huge relief when it’ll take time to get home. Make sure they understand to not let your dogs out, at least until someone can walk the fence line to ensure there’s no way they can escape.
Have an Emergency Kit Ready For Your Dog
After a strong earthquake comes the possibility of a tsunami, which forces many people to hurry and evacuate to higher ground away from coastal areas.
The most important thing to grab is a way to keep your pups safe in uncertain circumstances. I keep their favorite leashes in a cabinet in a closet by the front door, but I also keep a spare set inside my car.
To make things easier to grab in a hurry in case we need to evacuate, I have a bag on top of the cabinet. It’s stocked with treats, poop bags, a ziploc bag of food, and some Beneful Prepared Meals that Roxy & Rico really like.
Spoiling them with a favorite treat helps ease their anxiety; just don’t give too much so they don’t get an upset tummy!
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Let Your Dog Process On Their Own
Don’t force your dog to let you comfort them, in turn comforting you. Some dogs need a bit of space to wind down on their own. If they have a crate that is their comfort zone, they may choose to hide in there for a bit. That’s perfectly normal and fine!
You can also try distracting them by having a good play time, or a training session to work their brain. I pull out some of their favorite dog puzzles to give them a bit of mental exercise.
It’ll take time for you and your family to calm down after such a scary event, but these tips will help.