When it comes to keeping your beloved pet safe, we totally understand. You don’t even want to think about it. But knowledge is power, forewarned is forearmed, so here’s our guide to help you keep your beloved canine best friend safe.
1. Get their ID sorted
Make sure your dog is microchipped and that your contact information on is up to date on the system. Any veterinarian or animal rescue service will be able to scan the microchip and instantly get your details to reunite you with your furry family member.
The microchip is about the same size as a grain of rice. It’s injected under the skin by a veterinarian, just like a typical injection. No surgery or anesthesia needed – and it can be done quickly and easily during a routine veterinary clinic visit.
You’ll also need a good quality collar and tag, and replace these as and when you need to, keeping your engraved contact details and address up to date. Animal charities and organisations recommend you don’t put your dog’s name on the tag – it would be helpful for a person with good intentions, but it would also unfortunately help a dognapper, especially with friendly dogs.
Our top tip: Take regular photos of your dog at all angles, and we’re not just talking solo snaps, but of the two of you together, too. As if you need an excuse, but if you do it’s important business! That way, if you ever need to prove they’re your dog you can quickly and easily, on the spot, from your phone.
This sounds like an obvious one, but it’s also one of the most common situations for dognapping.
2. Don’t leave your dog alone in public
While it can be so tempting to nip into the shops for groceries on your walk, leaving your dog outside the shop alone, or even in the car – please, please don’t. Yes, it can be an inconvenience, as the shop is right there, but we’re certain you’d much rather your dog was safe.
Dog thieves are often opportunists and will seize the chance to act if your dog is left vulnerable and alone. Criminals won’t think twice about smashing a car window to get to them. It only takes seconds to take a dog, so don’t give them that chance.
3. Protect your dog at home
Don’t forget about the least secure area in your home – your own backyard! Sadly, this is a real target for thieves, sometimes even when the rest of the family is inside. Make sure your yard is secure, and don’t leave your dog outside alone. You could attach a bell to each gate, so you’re alerted when they’re opened.
There are also many options for security cameras these days, to suit different budgets, and these can be placed to cover key areas, including a doorbell cam. Securing your home will help keep your whole family safe, too.
If you’re leaving your dog home alone – and we know they can’t come with us everywhere, as much as we’d like them to! – it’s a good idea to leave the TV, radio or a music playlist on. It makes it seem like someone else is in and it’ll also provide your best canine buddy with some comfort and company while you’re out, too. You could also set a timer on your light switches, so they come on automatically when it gets dark.
We know walks are the highlight of the day for dogs, and hopefully a fun part of your day too, but to be safe, you must be aware of who is around.
4. Stay alert when you’re out walking
While most people who want to say hello to your dog are completely innocent, as sad as it is, dognappers do this too – so trust your instincts (and your dog’s) with strangers. If in doubt, keep them away. While it’s most likely friendly and innocent, it’s better to be safe than sorry – and anyone friendly and innocent will totally understand!
Be particularly wary of anyone pulling up in a car, asking you questions to get you to come close to the car with your dog – don’t go over, back away and find somewhere safe.
Consider where and whether it’s safe to let them off the leash, too. And same goes for wearing your headphones – we know the latest podcast episode is out, but just use your judgement on whether it’s safe for you not to be able to hear what’s going on around you.
5. Don’t tell dognappers where you are
We totally get it, what else is social media for if it’s not cute dog pics and #dogwalkgoals? But be very careful about letting anyone know where you walk your dog, especially if you go there regularly, and especially if your account settings are set to public.
You should also switch up your routine as much as possible, so you’re not walking in the same places at the same time each day. After all, variety is the spice of life, for you and your dog!
Ideally, try to make sure you’re not always walking your dog alone, and try to avoid solo walks with your dog after dark. We do know that many pet parents are solo pet parents, though. You can buy personal alarms to carry with you, and buddy up with friends for walks.
6. Be cautious about who you trust with your dog
Be very selective when it comes to leaving your beloved furry family member with a dog professional. There are so many amazing dog professionals, but sadly some people will pretend to be one to get your dog. Whether it’s a dog sitter, dog walker or kennel facility, ask for references, read reviews and, where possible, go with recommendations from those you trust.
If you’re a dog breeder, it goes without saying that you need to be extra careful when it comes to opening your home to would-be owners. You should keep puppies in one secure area of the house, limit the number of visitors and, always, always have at least one other person present in the household.
Rescue shelters still need to be careful, but they have processes in place and will do a home visit before allowing a dog to be adopted.
Millions of people love dogs and will do anything to help them. Rest assured there are way more of us than the people who want to harm them – way more. We just need to be careful that we’re dealing with one of the many good humans out there.
And if the worst happens?
If your dog is stolen, the best thing you can do is act quickly. Here’s what to do:
- Report the crime to the police
- Report your dog as missing on the relevant microchip database
- Inform any local animal wardens, rescue shelters, and vet practices
- Post on your social media channels, encourage friends and family to do the same, and make all posts shareable to maximize your audience reach
- Put up posters and distribute fliers
- Contact local media
Finally, some words of comfort
There are more good people than bad in this world, by a long way, and people you don’t even know will help find your dog. In an age where information spreads quicker than you can say ‘there’s no place like home’, stories of stolen dogs being reunited with their loving families is happening more and more.
If you love dogs, you’re automatically part of a community of millions and millions of people (and their dogs!) and we can all work together to keep our furry best friends safe. After all, they’re always there for us, too.
Check out our other Health Guides for more helpful information to keep your dog happy, healthy and safe.