A sad fact of lockdown is that more and more dogs are being stolen, and that’s heartbreaking. We’re seeing too many Facebook notices and shoutouts, so we talked to our team of dog owners, behaviourists and of course, Head Vet Sean, to give you the latest lowdown on dog theft – what you can have in place at home, what you should do when you’re out and about, and lastly, what to do if the worst happens (that’s right at the end of the page if you need that information right away).
Here are our top tips on how to keep your dog safe
Training is key. If you haven’t got your dog’s recall down to perfection, now’s the time to really get that training under your belt. It’s never too late to start and we’ve got some great videos on YouTube from our lovely animal behaviourist Diane from Superhounds.
If you haven’t got a puppy, don’t worry – these tips are great. Sometimes it’s good to go back to basics. If you have some smelly (tasty!) treats on hand to reward your dog when they get it right, that’s even better. If your dog isn’t motivated by food, you can use a clicker.
Collar and ID tag
Your dog should wear this at all times. It should have your surname, mobile number and address details on – and this is required by law when you’re out in public.
Remember: leave your dog’s name off the ID tag so potential thieves can’t trick them by calling their name.
Is your dog microchipped?
It’s the law for all dogs over 8 weeks – make sure yours is always up to date. There’s more information on where to go and who to use on this brilliant government web page here.
Photos, photos and more photos
Having lots of photos of your dog – taken from all angles – is nice for you and it helps you prove ownership if you do lose your dog.
In the garden
It might be toilet time but can you see them? Is your garden easily accessible? Could you do with an alarm on your gate?
If you’re worried about your dog, keep them in your eye-line at all times.
Know what’s going on in your area
The Nextdoor app is a great way to keep an eye on what’s going on in your local area. A lot of your neighbours will share things they’ve spotted, near-misses, and anything suspicious.
Out and about
On a walk or in the park, make sure you know where they are and you’ve got your recall to hand to call them back to you when you need. If you’re not sure – don’t let them off lead.
Be wary of strangers asking you questions, asking for photos, or asking to hold your dog. Some thieves act in pairs or small groups to use distraction techniques – one person distracts you from your dog while the other one snatches them.
Posting on social media
If you’re on a walk and your dog is doing something gorgeous you want to share with the world, leave the location tags off. Thieves can locate you from your post, or get to know where you walk with your precious pup.
At the shops
It might only be for a minute, but leaving your dog tied up outside a shop makes them an easy target.
In a car
The same goes for leaving your dog in the car whilst you run an errand.
If your dog is stolen
- Act fast. It’s going to feel awful, but the quicker you react the better chance you have of finding your dog
- Report it to the police as stolen (not lost) and get a crime number
- Report it to the local dog warden
- Report it to the microchip database
- Let your local vets know
- Local animal shelters often keep a lost and found database and here’s one for Battersea if you live near them, check with the PDSA, RSPCA, Dog’s Trust and Blue Cross
- Go home and get printing – make a poster with a clear picture of your dog, details of what happened and a contact number
- Get outside and ask for help – go to your local parks, put up posters in your local area (not just where you walk) and talk to fellow dog walkers – take your dogs favourite squeaky toy too just in case
- Go online – post about it – find local community forums on Facebook, search for missing animals groups and connect with friends in your network, asking them to share.
- Get support – losing your dog is a traumatic experience, we’ve written a blog about support here.
We know this blog makes for some tricky reading, it’s not nice to think of people stealing the pets we love and we hope it never happens to any of us. As always – stay safe!