By Tim Falk
Published: 08/06/2021, edited: 08/09/2021
Dognapping might sound more like something that happens in a movie than in real life, but it happens a lot more often than you might think. According to the American Kennel Club, around 2 million dogs are stolen each year.
That’s a pretty alarming statistic, and while the chances of your dog becoming a victim are low, it’s still worth taking some simple steps to protect yourself and your pup against dog theft. So, how can you prevent your dog being stolen? Keep reading for our top tips.
First things first, make sure your dog is microchipped. And if you get a new phone number or move house, update your pet’s microchip details straight away. That way, you’ll be able to be reunited with your dog if they turn up somewhere unexpectedly or if you’re ever involved in some sort of ownership dispute.
It’s also important to make sure that your dog has a collar and ID tag. While this obviously isn’t going to stop a thief, it still provides an easy way to identify your dog.
Finally, make sure you have lots of up-to-date photos of your dog, including shots with yourself in the frame. These could come in handy if you ever need to prove ownership of your pup.
Staying on top of home security is a simple way to protect yourself against dog theft. So make sure to keep all doors and windows locked when you’re not home, and consider installing an alarm system or security cameras to act as an added deterrent.
Next, make sure your yard is securely fenced and that you can lock the gate. This is particularly important if your yard is easily visible to passers-by. And while securing your yard won’t necessarily deter thieves entirely, it can make it much harder for them to get to your pet.
Even if your dog is perfectly trained and comes when called every time, keeping them on a leash can make them seem like a much less attractive target for thieves. Think about it from the dognapper’s point of view: would you rather try to steal a dog strolling around alone, or one that’s attached to their pet parent by a leash?
It’s also a good idea to put a lot of effort into training your dog to come when called. That way, if you ever find yourself in a dangerous situation, such as if a stranger is trying to lure your dog away from you, you can rely on them returning to your side as soon as you tell them to.
Leaving your dog all alone outside presents thieves with a golden opportunity, and these dodgy dog snatchers won’t miss it. Whether your pup is in your yard, at the dog park, or anywhere else, keep a close eye on them at all times. This not only means you can ensure that they don’t come to any harm, but it also acts as a deterrent against would-be thieves.
Of course, when at home (whether you’re there too or not), the safest place for your dog is inside.
You should also never leave them in a parked car or tied up outside a shop. Not only should you never leave your dog in a car due to the risk of overheating, but leaving them unattended makes them an easy target for thieves.
Dogs are stolen for profit, with one common approach being to use the stolen dog to breed puppies. So by getting your dog spayed or neutered, you’ll make them a less attractive prospect to thieves.
Staying aware of your surroundings is important for personal safety, and it’s also a simple way to protect yourself. From cars slowing down and stalking you to strangers showing an unusual and specific interest in your dog, it always pays to keep your wits about you.
So rather than spending all your time looking down at your phone, keep your eyes up and stay alert. The dog park is one place in particular where it can be easy to lose track of your pup, even if only for a minute, so don’t let your guard down.
Be wary of what sort of information you give out to strangers (including on social media), like how much your dog cost or where you live, and keep an eye out for anything suspicious. If you notice anything worth reporting to the police, do so.
If thieves have their eye on your dog, don’t make it easy for them by being too predictable. So rather than walking the exact same route at the exact same time every day, vary your routine regularly. Walking with a friend whenever possible can also help minimize risk.
If you form a community of dog lovers with other local pet parents, you can work together to keep an eye out for anything suspicious. Think of it sort of like a neighborhood watch for pets, and it’s an extra layer of security to help keep your dog safe.
Leaving your dog in someone else’s care while you’re at work or away on vacation? Do your research to make sure they’re being looked after by a reputable kennel, dog boarder, or pet sitter. For peace of mind, book dog boarding or dog sitting with a Pet Caregiver on the Wag! app.
Ultimately, worrying about dog theft isn’t something that should keep you up at night. But when you think about all the steps you take to protect your belongings against theft — and when you consider that your dog isn’t a possession but in fact a much-loved and adored family member — it makes sense to take some simple steps to protect them. And if you can do that, you’ll have the peace of mind you need to just focus on enjoying life with your fur-baby.
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