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How to Prevent Your Dog from Being Lost or Stolen


Every dog owner’s worst nightmare is to have a beloved pup be lost or stolen.  However, in many cases there are ways to prevent these occurrences.  The following are tips for decreasing the chances of your dog being lost or stolen.

Never Leave Your Pet Unattended
One of the main reasons dogs are lost or stolen is because they were left without supervision.  If you have a fenced-in yard, your dog may find a way to climb over, dig under, or even go through a fence; especially if something intriguing is on the other side.  Electronic fences can malfunction, and tie-outs can break.  A dog left alone in a yard can also be tempting for thieves, particularly if your dog is a rare or expensive breed.  If dog fighting is common in your area, any breed of dog may be at risk.

Commonly, people leave their dogs in their car; occasionally with the car running!  Dogs are stolen from vehicles frequently, as are the cars that contain them (particularly if the keys are left inside).  If you would not leave your toddler in an unattended vehicle, avoid doing so with your pet.

Finally, never tie up your dog outside of a gas station or grocery store.  No one will think twice if someone walks away with your pet.  Your dog may also become agitated at being left alone and chew through his or her leash.  The sheer number of people that could possibly interact with your dog makes this habit very dangerous for your pet.

Always Keep Your Pet on a Leash
When out on a walk, it can be tempting to allow your dog to explore.  However, if your dog wanders too far from you, someone may mistakenly assume your pet is lost.  Worse yet, he or she may simply steal your dog.  Additionally, do not allow your pet to roam free in your neighborhood for these same reasons.  Even if your pet is never out of sight when off leash, remember that dogs are unpredictable.  If your dog has never chased rabbits, squirrels, or deer in the past, do not give him or her a chance to surprise you.

Collar, Tags, Microchip
Two of the most important things you can do for your pet is invest in a microchip and identification tag.  If your dog is ever stolen to be re-sold, a microchip will be the only indication that your pet formerly had a home.  Microchips will also help your dog return home if it runs away.

The information on your dog’s tag should include your name and contact information.  Some experts recommend not putting your dog’s name on the tag.  If a thief knows your pet’s name, it can improve the person’s chances of getting away with the crime.  Additionally, the simple phrase “needs medication” could make your dog less desirable to would-be thieves.

Some pet owners mistakenly believe that collars are not necessary if their dogs are primarily confined to the house, or if they are microchipped.  However, if your dog ever escapes (and accidents do, unfortunately, happen), a collar could mean the difference between someone knowing your pet has or home or believing it is a stray.  Even though your dog may be microchipped, the person that finds your pet may not know to have the chip checked.

Be Wary of Strangers
If you invite strangers into your home, be careful of the interaction the person has with your pet.  Sometimes, maintenance workers are used to scout out potential robberies, and this includes pet theft.  Only use trusted companies for these services.  Additionally, bear in mind that even animal professionals that come into your home, such as dog walkers, dog sitters, and dog trainers, may have ulterior motives.  Thoroughly vet anyone who will be working with your dog.

Don’t Offer Up Information
Pet owners love to brag about their dogs, particularly if their pet was expensive or is a rare specimen.  If a stranger approaches you and asks questions about your pup, avoid giving out information such as your dog’s price tag or where you live.  While this may seem like common knowledge, “fast talkers” can extract this information quickly.

Spay/Neuter Your Dog
One reason your dog might be stolen – especially if it is a purebred – is to serve as a breeder for a backyard breeding operation.  Spaying or neutering your pet will eliminate the possibility that your dog is stolen for this reason.  Additionally, de-sexing your dog ensures your pet will never escape the house in search of a potential mate.

Teach Recall
Finally, teaching your dog a rock-solid recall is crucial.  If your pet ever escapes the house or yard, a good recall may be the difference between life and death.  Tips for teaching recall can be found here.

Which Dogs Breeds Get Stolen Most Often?
Overall, vigilance is important.  Certain breeds are stolen with greater frequency than others.  Pit Bulls (particularly puppies) are common targets, as well as Siberian Huskies and Yorkshire Terriers.  In general, any dog that can fetch a high price when sold online is susceptible.  The most commonly stolen breeds also include Pomeranians, Maltese, Boston Terriers, French Bulldogs, Chihuahuas, Labradoodles, German Shepherds, and Labrador Retrievers.

While you can never entirely prevent your dog from getting lost or stolen, following these rules will certainly reduce the risk.  Has your pet ever been lost or stolen?  What was the circumstance, and how were you able to retrieve your dog?


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Anna Weber

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