Dog theft is rising.
It’s been rising for every year since I began writing about dog theft back in 2000. But right now? Right now it’s really, really becoming a huge problem and a terrifying prospect for any dog owner.
So I thought I’d give some of my thoughts on what you can do about it.
Simple steps to minimize the risk of your dog being stolen
- By far the most important tip is to never, ever assume a thief would not be interested in stealing your dog. So you have a 12-year old crossbreed? Nobody would steal a 12-year old crossbreed, right? Wrong! Dead wrong. All dogs are potentially lucrative for thieves. When people post rewards for the return of a stolen dog (often in the thousands), it’s not because of the intrinsic ‘property value’ of that dog. It’s because a dog is a member of the family and thieves know this. So just because your dog isn’t an expensive breed, don’t assume for a second that somebody wouldn’t try to steal them.
- Vigilance. Don’t leave your dog unattended in your garden if people can see in. Never leave your dog tied up outside a shop. You’re just making it easy for someone to walk off with your dog.
- Take a look at this anti-theft dog lead and collar.
- Microchip your dog. It’s the law.
- If you have the funds, invest in home security cameras. Ideally you want a camera that records any motion and stores the footage to the cloud. What this means is, even if a thief destroyed the actual camera, the footage would already be captured and stored. By being able to see in to your home whenever you want to (or even keep the camera view on permanently), you can check on your dog and if there is any motion, you will also get an alert on your phone. Because I publish K9 Magazine, I happen to have many, many dog cameras in my home because we test them for our readers to make informed purchase decisions on. A camera with a two-way microphone would even allow you to observe an attempted break-in and you’d be able to talk/shout at the intruder to let them know they were being filmed.
Additional dog theft prevention tips courtesy of dogsforgood.org
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. During the Covid climate, dogs were 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.
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.
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.
Tinted 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.
Poor recall – remember Fenton? If your dog has poor recall, ‘social walks’, on the lead around your local area is fine. 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.
Safer spaces. Scope out some safer, free-run locations where you’ve got 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.
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.
Be less predictable. Try altering your route and, where practical, the time you walk your dog.
Walk with someone else. Even with Covid restrictions, you can still take a walk with someone else as long as you keep a safe distance apart.
Photos. Make sure you’ve got plenty of recent photos of your dog clearly showing identifiable markings etc.
Microchips. 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 which provides a lost and found service which is free of charge. You should also notify police, dog wardens, vets and local rescue centres.
Visit dogsforgood.org for more information.