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Having our precious furbabies stolen is one of the worst things imaginable for us dog owners.
It’s heartbreaking to think about, we’d be distraught if it ever happened.
Unfortunately, dog thefts have been on the rise during the past year. Opportunist thieves and organised gangs have been cashing in on the demand during lockdown.
This has meant being extra vigilant around our pets, including when out on walks.
These criminals are brazen enough that they’d probably snatch our dogs from right under our noses. You can’t take any chances.
And while there are gadgets and devices you can use to protect your dog at home, what about when out on walkies?
Burgess Pet Care has put together a helpful guide to ensure that dogs and their owners are taking the right precautions on their next dog walk, to protect them from thieves and being lost.
And we’ve added in a few of our own tips too.
Straying too far and becoming lost while on a walk is one of the most common reasons a dog can go missing.
While the Control of Dogs Order 1992 means that every dog must wear a collar with the name and address of the owner attached to it when out in public, Burgess Pet Care also recommends including a phone number, reducing the time it takes owners to be reunited with their dog.
As well as providing a range of health benefits, such as reducing the risk of mammary cancer in females and testicular cancer in males, neutering removes the dog’s urge to breed, making them less likely to go astray in desire of a mate, potentially leading to them becoming lost or stolen.
It is now a legal requirement to have your dog microchipped with your details updated once they are over eight-weeks-old.
It gives you the best chance of being reunited with your pet should you become separated.
While collars and tags can be removed, microchips are inserted under your dog’s skin and can be scanned to find your contact details should your dog become lost.
Vary your dog walks
Don’t walk your dog at the same time and place every day, any lurking thieves may pick up on your routine and target your dog after weeks of watching you.
You could also consider walking your dog with a friend.
Use a long lead
If you want to give your dog some flexibility to go off and explore without actually letting them off the lead, consider using a long line.
Training lines are ideal, like this one from Pets At Home which is 10 metres long.
Use a GPS tracker
While it might not deter thieves, a GPS tracker is ideal if your dog is prone to wandering off.
Don’t have sight of your dog? You can easily check their location using an app on your phone.
Never leave your dog tied up outside a shop
While it might have once been common to leave your dog tied to a lamppost while you nip into a shop, this is just asking for trouble.
No matter how safe you might think the area is, never leave your dog.
How to perfect your dog’s recall
In-house vet at Burgess Pet Care, Dr Suzanne Moyes, shares her tips on how to perfect your dog’s recall.
Use your home to help teach your dog
“Start by practicing in your garden, or a small space with few distractions, and then gradually build the distance. Use words such as ‘treats’ to recall your dog. The word ‘come’ often has negative connotations for some dogs and is a signal that the fun is about to stop.”
Persuasion is key
“The most important thing to remember when teaching recall is that your dog will weigh up whether the benefits of coming back to you are worth it. The world is an interesting place, so you need to make sure you can persuade them that coming back to you is even better.”
Give them lots of praise when they come back
“Once they successfully return to you, give them lots of praise, even if it took them a few tries. Afterwards, let them return to the activity they were engaged with before.
“For example, if your dog was following an exciting scent trail, then they return to you, let them carry on investigating that smell. This will reinforce the idea that coming back is rewarding and not an end to their fun!”
Consider where to walk your dog
“Remember to think about where you are taking your dog on a walk. Will you always be able to see your dog? Is it a busy park, or a quiet spot?
“There have been reports of people approaching dog walkers offering to buy their dog, or forcibly taking it from them. If you are particularly concerned, consider varying the time of day you walk your dog, the location, and the route.”