From the moment we welcome dogs into our homes it quickly becomes difficult to imagine life without them. Whether that is the whirlwind of chaos they have introduced or the affectionate cuddles on the couch they are almost too willing to enjoy, we love our dogs no matter what.
As such, we do what we can to make them happy, from walks in the park to treats and belly rubs, it’s all good from a dog’s perspective. While great, owning a dog is a big responsibility and besides veterinary bills or compromising your routine, we must also be aware of dog nappers.
Each year approximately 10 million pets go missing in the United States and with the boom of thefts as pedigree dogs become even more desirable, it’s more important than ever to protect your dog. Here are some essential tips to help keep your dog safe at home and when you venture outside.
1. Reducing social media posts
Social media for dogs is perhaps the best way to procrastinate from work but while it’s fun to follow this rabbit hole, there are risks involved with contributing to dog posts. Although taking fun snaps or videos of your four-legged friend is just part of the fun of owning a dog, sharing too much of this content on social media can draw the attention of thieves.
Just from your social media posts, would-be thieves can work out: where you take your dogs for walks, if you leave them at home alone for any length of time, and perhaps most worryingly, their name. It’s great to teach your dog a strong recall but consider using a different command word than their name as this can then be called in a public place by a kidnapper and your dog could go to them, through no fault of their own.
Social media posts of particular breeds can also bring them to the attention of potential dognappers so consider making your profile private so only friends and family can see and enjoy your lovely dog photos.
2. Strangers in the park
Dog owners need to be vigilant against thieves, particularly when owning a fashionable pedigree breed. Knowing what to look for in a dognapper can help you simply avoid the situation altogether and keep both you and your dog safe.
For starters, whether it’s in the park, on the street, or anywhere else in public, don't let people get too close. People hunkering down extra low to stroke your dog isn’t okay as it’s quite easy to scoop them up from this position, so make sure and stay close to your dog at all times outdoors to prevent this.
3. The vulnerabilities of pet monitoring apps
Pet monitoring apps help reduce the anxiety we sometimes feel when leaving our beloved dog home alone. If we worry that they might be distressed, or we think they are chewing the cushions to shreds, we can log into our monitoring app on our phone or device and check on them.
Live footage of our dogs at home alone can be great for us to see that they are actually silently sleeping but they can leave pets vulnerable to theft too. Cybersecurity might not be the first thing you think of to protect your pooch but if your monitoring app is hacked or device is compromised, footage of your pet home alone can be used to learn when is the best time to take them.
But you can protect yourself with strong passwords, updated software versions, and multi-factor authentication (MFA). As Jed Kafetz, a cybersecurity expert, highlights “MFA provides an important secondary layer of defense in the event of a password being stolen and is especially important given people’s tendency to reuse passwords across accounts.”
4. Fences and gates are essential
We like to think that our dogs are safe as long as they are within the perimeter of our homes but the truth is almost 2 million domestic dogs are the victims of theft. Worryingly, only 10% of dog owners get their pets back so we must ensure that our homes are as secure as possible to prevent any theft from happening in the first place.
Consider putting locks on any gates and establishing strong fencing around your property. A useful addition to your gate is a bell or noisy mechanism that will draw your attention should someone open it. Even then, try not to leave them outside unattended, particularly in the front yard as someone could conceivably swoop them up and drive off before you notice.
Of course, our dogs can also become escape artists without anyone else’s help, so finding a solution that keeps your particular breed from springing free is essential. Whether your dog digs, has a special leap or is large or tiny, appropriate perimeter fencing is a must-have to make your garden or yard like Fort Knox for dogs.
5. A mixed walking routine
There is nothing inherently wrong or dangerous about walking your dog, if there was then there would be a lot of unsatisfied pooches around the world. However, we also can't ignore the fact that dogs are stolen while being walked by their owners or dog walkers.
Dog thieves often steal particular breeds because they know they can fetch a high price for them. Pedigree dogs find themselves the target here and many dog nappers will spend the time to scope out certain areas to pick up on the routines of their owners.
One of the best ways to guard against this is to simply keep your routine varied, one walk turn left out of your house and the next time turn right. Additionally, mix things up further by visiting different dog parks, taking different routes, and altering the times you leave. Ultimately, the less predictable your behavior and walk times are, the less likely you are to be targeted by a dog napper.
6. Upgrade your walking equipment
Most dogs love going for walks and it wouldn’t be fair to deprive them of such fun frolics for the sake of them possibly getting stolen. Besides mixing up your walking routine you can also invest in useful dog-walking equipment and accessories to give you greater peace of mind.
Here are some dog-walking accessories to protect against theft:
- Cut-proof leash
- Cut-proof collar
- Alarmed dog lead handle
- Wrist straps – to tether your dog more firmly to you
- GPS tracker
Cut-proof leashes and collars are made using steel wire that is woven into a reinforced design which prevents opportunistic thieves from cutting through and snatching your dog from your grasp.