Five Ways To Protect Your Dog From Theft
When it comes to our dogs, there is little we wouldn’t do to protect them. From ensuring they are safe and sound at home through pet monitoring apps to weatherproof coats to keep them warm on wet and chilly walks, we do a lot for our pooches.
Although we sometimes need to protect them from their overenthusiastic approach to walks, food and belly rubs, we also have to ward off outside threats. It’s not a nice thing to think about but with dog thefts reaching a seven-year high in 2021, we must take action to protect against thieves.
Unfortunately, pet insurance is mainly focused on helping you to pay for any treatments your dog may need due to illness or accidents, and many aren't concerned with covering the costs of retrieval. Nor can insurance reduce the stress and anxiety we suffer when our pets are stolen or missing.
As such, we have compiled some of our best tips and methods to keep your dog safe and sound against thieves to reduce the risk of being separated from your four-legged friend.
1. Secure your home
Our dogs live with us, and just like a burglar might break into your home to steal your TV, a dog thief can invite themselves, or worse, coax your pooch off your property. But there are some things we can do to make our homes more secure for our dogs.
When your dog is in the garden make sure they remain in view at all times, do not leave them unsupervised. The front garden is a particularly risky place to leave your dog as it allows people the opportunity to simply walk by, pick your dog up and keep on going.
Adding a fence, gate and lock to your perimeter acts as a deterrent, and fitting a bell to the gate can add another level of security as you will hear when someone opens it. You may also wish to consider CCTV or a doorbell camera to further dissuade intruders from entering your home or property to try and steal your pet.
2. Mixing up your routine
A worrying three-quarters of dog owners are apprehensive about walking their pets because of the risk they will be stolen. While it is true that dog thieves have been known to snatch people’s pets from them while walking, there are some things you can do to reduce the risk.
One simple change you can implement that is also beneficial to your pet is to mix up your walking route.
You might follow the same path each time you take your pet out but it’s better to have a collection of routes to ensure thieves don’t observe you and learn the times and directions you take. This is also beneficial to your dog because it introduces them to new and different smells, making their walks more engaged and enjoyable.
3. Theft-proof dog equipment
Understandably, we can feel vulnerable to dog theft while out on a walk. That fear can be amplified if you let your dog off the lead to run around a park or open space. While it’s safer to leave your dog tethered to you, it’s also perfectly fine to let them off the lead to roam around at their leisure.
However, in some instances, even having your dog on a lead can’t prevent them from being taken as thieves cut through their leash or collar to detach them from you. There are cut-proof materials that provide extra security for your dog while walking in public places that are resistant to knives or scissors. You may also wish to consider a dog lead with an alarm in the handle or a personal alarm to raise awareness during an attempted theft.
4. Checking our online behaviour
The temptation can be all too much to resist when you’ve taken a hilarious picture of your dog, be that at home, on a walk or while on holiday. But, did you know that sharing images as innocent as your doggy playing in the park can make them a target for dog thieves?
Dog owners must balance sharing those amazing pictures with their family, friends and followers on social media with the risks posed to their pets.
Tagging your location or taking pictures with recognisable landmarks in them may help would-be thieves identify your dog as a target. Knowing where your dog might be could see thieves showing up in anticipation of taking your dog.
The Humberside Police and Crime Commissioner, Jonathan Evison, has spoken out about the importance of pet theft and security. In an interview with the BBC in 2021 he indicated why equal vigilance should be given to both home and pet security when posting everyday updates on social media. Our need to keep our homes secure would automatically stop us openly advertising when we were away from home for a period time. In the same way, we shouldn’t be so readily willing to make our pet’s everyday locations available to opportunistic eyes.
5. Making pet monitoring apps safer
Pet monitoring apps are great for checking in on your dog if you have to leave them at home for an extended period. However, these and similar apps that require a login can make us vulnerable to hackers and would-be dog thieves.
Mark Nicholls, Chief Research Officer at Redscan, an award-winning cybersecurity expert, advises people to beware of the emerging trend of ‘vishing’ and ‘smishing’ attacks. He says, “These tactics use phone calls, voice altering software, text messages and other tools to try to defraud unsuspecting people of valuable personal information such as passwords and bank account details.”
In gaining access to your passwords, potential thieves can access your monitoring app camera, learning when the dog is left alone and for how long. We must remain vigilant against cyber threats for the safety of our dogs, so ensure that your passwords are secure, regularly updated and application software is the latest version.
What is causing the rise in dog theft?
Ultimately, the reason that dog theft is spiking in popularity is down to the demand for four-legged family members. While some dogs may be stolen to order, typically pedigree dogs find themselves the target for thieves so they can be bred.
Puppy farming is a problem that isn’t easily solved, the RSPCA reports that it spent over a year just investigating one particular gang to gather enough evidence to fulfil the requirements for obtaining a police warrant.
Dog owners and those looking for new pets must do what they can to avoid supporting the puppy farming and smuggling industries. Not only that, but as many pets are being targeted we must protect them from falling victim to such a terrible and heartless industry.
Written by Annie Button: