Bugging Out With Your Beloved Pet

Dog in a Bug Out scenario
Dog in a Bug Out scenario

When the SHTF and it becomes clear it's time to hit the road and escape from danger, make sure that you don't leave your pet behind.

If you value the lives of your family, which you probably do if you are reading this, then you probably have made preparations so that you will know what to do in case of a large scale disaster.

You probably have a home that is stocked with supplies and has been fortified to make it as safe as possible. But no matter how safe and fortified your home is, there may come a time when you have to bug out.

When you do, your family is obviously your priority. However, wouldn't you want to be able to save your pet as well?

Roughly, a third of Americans have a pet, and being forced to leave that pet behind would be heartbreaking for them. That is why you have to include the needs of your pet when shopping and also when you are preparing your bug out kits.

As much as you consider a pet as part of the family, you must always prioritize your real family. If that means leaving behind a pet because it is the right decision to make at that time, then that is exactly what you will have to do.

That being said, there are a few things you can do today to make it easier to bug out with your pet, instead of having to leave it behind. I will be the first to tell you that leaving my dog behind would be rough. So, I am doing what I can to make sure that never has to happen. By taking the time to make a disaster preparedness plan, you can make sure that you will most likely not ever have to leave your pet behind. This, even as you prioritize the safety of your family.

It is important for you to keep in mind that the type of pet you have will determine your ability to bring that pet along with you. Pets such as dogs, cats, and small rodents such as hamsters can all be packed up and loaded into the car without too much trouble.

On the other hand, you will have to leave behind any fish you have, probably any birds, and in general any pet that will take up too much space. In addition, you will need to leave any other pet that normally requires specialized care to keep alive. So, for this article, I will be describing what you need to do to keep your dog safe and bring him with you.

The same general rules will apply for a cat. When it comes to small animals like hamsters, you can just grab them, take some food for them and then hit the road.

Make Sure Your Pet is Well Trained

While there are some cats out there that are somewhat obedient, most are very independent and like to do their own thing. That is the reason I am speaking primarily about dogs.

They are generally easier to deal with. The last thing you want during a major disaster that forces you to bug out is to have to deal with an unruly and disobedient pet. Chances are that when you decide to bug out, you won't have a lot of time to get into your car and get on the road.

You probably decide to abandon your home due to an imminent threat. If that is the case, you don't have time to mess around. You need to have your family in the car and be on your way before that threat gets to you.

The first thing you need to do with your pet is to train him to come to you when you call him. During a bug out, there's likely to be a lot of chaos and panic going on around you. You simply won't have the time to find your pet. You have more pressing concerns like getting your wife and kids into your car and making sure you grab your bug out kit.

If you make the mistake of stopping to look for your pet, in all likelihood, you are going to be exposing your family to unnecessary risk. Always remember that family comes first and pets are a distant second. If you cannot count on your pet to come to you and get in the car without taking too much time, then you are going to have to make the heartbreaking decision to leave it behind.

Dogs are smart animals. If you have trained your dog the right way, it sees you as the boss, and that means it will want to do whatever he can to please you. That being said, dogs are often skittish when they are in a loud and frantic environment, and there are few environments more frantic than when you are trying to bug out. So, you need to make sure that your dog is comfortable with what you want him to do.

You need to train him to unfailingly come to you when called. You also need to teach him how to get into and out of your car. Getting into a car is something a lot of dogs struggle with since they don't like to be confined. However, if you practice getting them in and out frequently, with time, they will get much more comfortable with.

Go Over Your SHTF Plan with Your Family and Get Their Input

Many people make the mistake of trying to assume all of the responsibility for planning on what to do during a major disaster. This is especially true for men.

Don't think that you know it all or that you have to be the one that plans for everything. If you think you know everything, then there's a good chance you are overconfident. Being overconfident means, you really haven't thought of everything. So, get the family involved.

Tell them your plans and ask for their input. This is especially true when it comes to getting your dog in the car and ready to hit the road when you are bugging out. You will have a lot to do on your own. So, if you can count on your wife or an older child to help you to get your dog in the car, you should let them do it.

How Your Dog can be an Asset if you are forced to Bug Out

While you probably love your dog and want to take him with you if you are forced to bug out, you should also realize that your dog can be an asset for you during a major disaster.

During a disaster of such magnitude that forces you to bug out, there is going to be a lot of panicking going on around you. People will get desperate, and there will be violence. What you need to remember is that dogs were originally domesticated to be both a companion as well as a form of protection.

If your dog is treated well and feels like he is a part of the family, then he will probably do anything he can to keep his family safe. So, let your dog be another layer of protection to keep you and your family safe. Now, you may be thinking that you have a small dog so he isn't really going to be much of a threat to anyone that might attack you or your family. But even a small dog can bark. In doing so, he will alert you to potential danger so that you can take appropriate action.

Prepare A Bug Out Bag For Your Dog

Just about everyone serious about prepping has a bug out bag for their family that is near their designated escape vehicle. So, if you have a bug out bag for your family, you need one for your dog as well. It is a good idea to have separate bags for your family and your dog. This is because in the event you need to leave something behind due to limitations in the room in your vehicle, you want to be able to quickly drop something that won't affect you, your wife or kids.  That something is your dog's bug out bag.

What Exactly Should You Keep in your Dog's Bug Out Bag?


This really should go without saying. Your dog can eat some of your food, but you shouldn't be depleting your food supplies to feed your dog. On top of that, there are many foods that people love that are toxic to dogs. So, do yourself and your four legged friends a favor and pack a supply of his favorite foods.

Dog Treats​

Dog treats are different from dog food. Therefore, you should have a decent supply of them on hand so that you can reward your dog for good behavior.


Dogs, like people, need medical care as well. If your dog takes a regular medication, you should make sure that it is packed up in your bug out bag.

Toys and dog bones​

Dogs can get very restless and become unhappy when they are trapped in a small area for an extended period. This is especially true during a disaster because your dog can pick up on your anxiety. So, make sure that you have bones he can chew on and toys he can play with to keep him occupied.

Long leash​

Having an extra-long leash will give your dog the ability to move around at night when you set up camp. At the same time, it will keep him from running off. Your dog will enjoy the freedom, and he will be able to respond to any noises he hears or scents he picks up to alert you to potential danger.

Final Thought

I am a dog lover, and the thought of having to leave him behind if I had to bug out is heartbreaking. For me, it would almost be like leaving behind one of my kids. Dogs depend on us for everything, and they are fiercely loyal.

If you were forced to abandon your best friend, it wouldn't just hit you hard; it would hit him hard as well. While it would be a tough decision to make, my family comes first. So, if I had to, I would leave my dog behind to ensure the safety of my family.

The good news is that I am well prepared. So, the chances of things becoming so dire, so quickly, that I would have to leave my dog behind, are quite low. I firmly believe that the only way to be ready for a real emergency is to have preparations in place ahead of time.

I have a car with basic supplies such as bottled water loaded in the trunk. Within arm's reach of the car, I have extra gas, extra ammunition, and a bug out bag for my family. I also have one for my dog. 

I am about as ready as can be if a man can ever be truly ready to abandon his home and possibly never return. Let me make it clear that I absolutely do not want a major disaster, or terrorist attack, or even a war to happen and disrupt our way of life. I hope that every day I get up, the world keeps moving along as it always has. That being said, it is beyond foolish not to be prepared for disaster. Look around, and you can see the signs, but don't just see them, analyze and understand them.

If you love your dog like he was a member of the family, then make sure you treat him that way. Prepare a bug out bag for him and make sure you train him so that should you have to get out of your home quickly, you won't have to leave your best friend behind.

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