There has been a substantial increase in dog thefts in the UK in recent times. This fact? It is quite scary! It is keeping our dogs safe from thieves and criminals is something we dog parents worry about – and rightly so.
Before I trained dogs, I walked dogs, and I walked dogs very conscious of the fact they weren’t my dog, so safety was paramount for me. It was all about taking care of them. Let me share my strategies for keeping your dog safe.
Why Do People Steal Dogs?
This specific breed of cruel criminals steal dogs because they see some sort of profit in it for them. They tend to be opportunistic in nature, also. Firstly, but selling them on. With puppy prices spiking they see easy profit from selling on whatever dog they steal, same as they do your watch – but they have to find a better market…which ends up being Facebook, gumtree, craigslist, or pre-loved… what a quick way to turn a
Next, there is dog theft to help fuel puppy mills. This could be an entire male, or whole female that they can use expressly for the purposes of churning out puppies. Which is deplorable. This often tends to be more ‘popular’ breeds, such as springer spaniels (after Kate & William brought theirs home) and consistently trendy dogs like Lady Gaga’s Frenchies.
Speaking of Frenchies, the third thing is for ransom. Rare, but it does happen. Usually, if you’re more of a public figure? But it’s not unheard of for those who aren’t stars.
Lastly, there’s the more grim one. Dog fighting. Bigger breeds who seem scarier? Often get turfed in for this as a blood sport. And sometimes they need a dog who won’t stand a chance, utterly barbaric, but nonetheless true.
How Common Is Ransom?
Incredibly uncommon. Even though Lady Gaga’s were potentially targeted? It’s very unlikely to happen to anyone who is not at a level of fame, notoriety or celebrity. So you and I should be pretty safe for now.
13 Tips For Keeping Your Dog Safe
1. Know Your Rights
Depending where you live depends on what level of protection you can carry, along with what licences you hold. Now, I’m not advocating that you go walk the dog armed to the teeth – but if you can carry mace or a rape alarm, it may be an idea.
2. Train Your Dog Not To Greet Everyone
Some people have super friendly dogs – and whilst that’s lovely – you should still have control over that. So make sure you teach a solid ability to focus and keep walking should you need it.
3. Heavy Chain Leash
Other than the benefits of being a leash that cannot be cut, it’s also a handy improvised weapon.
4. A Ball And Recall
If you have a dog who loves a ball, make sure you have one with you, because throwing a ball and untethering your dog to have them launch away from you after the ball? Might just give you the time you need to thwart the attack and get your dog and yourself out of range. Teaching a really reliable recall is also pretty key for this tactic, that way you can run off and recall your dog to you somewhere safe.
5. Know The Shortcut On Your Phone For An Alert
On an iPhone, you can hold down the side button and your volume button to start an alarm, if anyone is in the area they may be able to help.
6. Spay Or Neuter Your Dog
Why do this? You’re taking away some of the appeal to criminals. It’s always worth doing when your dog gets to an appropriate age.
7. Don’t Walk Alone Or In The Dark
This one is kind of an obvious statement. Avoid it if you can. If you can’t avoid walking alone?
Make sure someone knows where you are, and take advantage of technology with things like “Find my friends” so you can be tracked and found if things do go wrong. Avoid the nighttime wander too – it’s not much of a surprise – but the cover of dark definitely helps criminals.
8. Vary Your Walks
Different times, places and trails – drive to some, walk to some – make sure you’re not predictable if at all possible.
9. Keep Everything Up To Date
I rarely have to tell people to take pictures of their dog – it’s what most of our albums are filled with! But do keep an up to date photo of your dog, know any key identifiable markings and most importantly? Make sure they are microchipped and that has the correct information on them.
10. Don’t Leave Your Dog Tied Up
I don’t care how often you do it, I don’t care where it is. These people tend to be opportunists – so just leave pup home.
11. Security Cameras
Whilst these won’t work if the theft is outside of your home? Putting some CCTV may be a great idea to just make sure they don’t plan on busting into your home.
12. Talk To Your Pet Professionals Or Anyone Who Handles Your Dog
This is really important, but making sure that your dog walker or border has adequate security measures in place? Is also pretty big. I’ve been that professional and I had procedures in place. They used to walk with my number on their dog tag, and I used to make sure my van was unmarked and that my times and locations weren’t too predictable. I always carried something heavy in my treat bag, too. Oh, and avoid letting your dog out with your child. That doesn’t even bear thinking about.
13. Consider Teaching A Bark And Hold
In protection dog training, there is a thing called a “bark and hold”. The idea is that your dog will bark continuously, threateningly (but under control) at the attacker or home invader. This in itself should be a big enough deterrent to you the thief that they may just think twice – which may be enough for you to act. But do get a professional involved for this!!
Remember, a system is only as good as the weakest link – and whilst collars with combination locks on might sound like a good idea? They are easily sheared with other means, which is tempting a criminal to take tools close to your dogs neck. So, let’s not!
And these are my top tips for keeping your dog safe. I hope that you and yours stay healthy and happy, and don’t need this advice – ever – but if you do? You’re prepared. Best of luck!
By Ali Smith at Rebarkable