It’s no exaggeration to say that when a dog goes missing or is stolen, it’s utterly heartbreaking. Simply thinking about it can cause your stomach to churn and your emotions to dip and dive.
But it’s a good idea to keep things in perspective. Yes, in the current Covid climate, dogs are at a premium and there has most definitely been a rise in dog theft. However, while the numbers are increasing, they still remain relatively low.
Still, it never hurts to take stock and ask yourself if you’re doing all you can to keep you and your dog safe.
We’ve put together some things to consider to reduce the likelihood of your dog being taken and also to keep yourself safe.
Stay alert – put your phone down
Keeping eyes on your dog is still the best thing you can do to keep him or her safe. Using your phone to catch up with calls/emails when you’re out and about with your dog is a huge distraction … and thieves know that. Keep your phone in your pocket and those four legs in focus.
Lock the gate to your garden
Garden access. Is your garden secure? Did you lock the gate? It’s always worth checking. And as before, keep an eye on your dog when they’re outside.
Don’t leave your dog outside shops. Our dogs are so precious and can be taken in a heartbeat. You wouldn’t leave your wallet or handbag unattended so don’t leave your dog alone.
Tint your car windows
A relatively cheap way to keep what’s in your car less visible to prying eyes.
Keep your dog ‘building side’
Where possible, try and keep your dog away from the side of the road when you’re out on a walk. Doing so will make it far more difficult for someone to open a car door, take your dog and drive off.
Make sure you have a solid recall
Remember Fenton? If your dog has a poor recall then opt for ‘social walks’ on the lead around your local area. Give your dog plenty of opportunities to engage with what’s important to them – sniffing, looking around etc. – and they’ll feel the benefit. You can further add to their enrichment quota by spending time playing some brain games with them at home.
Find safer spaces.
Scope out some safer, free-run locations where you’ve got a clear sight of your dog. Avoid wooded areas and keep to smaller open spaces where you can see all around you and your dog. You could also research private free run fields where you can book a slot and safely run your dog.
Use high-value food rewards.
Small pieces of chicken, cheese or whatever your dog finds utterly delicious are a good way to ensure that your dog is motivated to come back to you.
Buy a long line lead
A 10m long line lead is a good halfway house between a lead walk and a free run. You can keep it short on the road and then when you get to your usual free zone, let it all out.
Take a different route
Be less predictable. Try altering your route and, where practical, the time you walk your dog.
Walk with someone else.
Even with the current restrictions, you can still take a walk with someone else as long as you keep a safe distance apart.
Take lots of photos
Make sure you’ve got plenty of recent photos of your dog clearly showing identifiable markings etc. Take photos when you are out too if you see a white van or something that looks suspicious in your area.
Update your dog’s microchip
Make sure your dog has been chipped and that you keep any changes to your details updated with the database. Also, because chips can move, it’s a good idea to ask your vet to scan your dog annually to check where the chip is.
If the unthinkable happens and your dog is taken, remember, you are not alone. There are plenty of online groups and pages offering help, guidance and support. DogLost is an excellent charity that provides a lost and found service which is free of charge. You should also notify police, dog wardens, vets and local rescue centres.
Thanks to dogsforgood.org for some great tips. Dogs for Good creates life-changing differences for people living with a wide range of disabilities and conditions including autism, physical disabilities, dementia and learning disabilities, through the help of a specially trained dog. The charity’s assistance and community dogs enable people to live more independently.