Ways to prevent dog theft at home
Owning a dog is a daily joy, from morning walkies to evening cuddles, but it‘s a sad reality that dog theft is on the rise. These dog theft prevention tips could keep your four-legged friend safe from opportunist thieves.
Switch to an anti-theft dog collar
Like anti-theft dog leads, anti-theft dog collars feature lockable fastenings and are made from more durable materials. This makes it harder for potential thieves to remove your dog’s collar in a hurry. Some anti-theft dog collars also include GPS trackers. Make sure your dog wears their collar whenever they go outside. These can be useful to track them if they are stolen, but also if your dog is prone to straying it makes it easier to get them back.
Secure your home and garden
It goes without saying that you should make sure your garden is secure before letting your dog outside. This will prevent them from escaping as well as deterring thieves.
- Make sure your walls or fences are high enough that dogs and people can’t easily climb over
- Make sure that any gates are securely locked
- Don’t leave your back doors open so that your dog can go outside while you’re not home
- Try to keep an eye on your dog when they are outside in the garden
- For added security, consider installing CCTV or smart cameras to deter thieves and keep an eye on your home and pets while you’re out
- Try not to leave obvious signs that you have a dog at home. Dog thieves often look out for things like dog bowls, signage and dog accessories so they know which houses to target
Make sure your dog is microchipped
It is a legal requirement in the UK to microchip your dog, and you can be fined up to £500 if your dog isn’t chipped. A microchip can also help get your dog returned to you if the worst happens.
Microchips are small devices with a unique code inserted under the dog’s skin. This number is stored on a database with the owner’s contact details, so if your pet is found and scanned by a vet, they will be able to contact you.
Make sure that you keep your dog’s microchip details up to date if you move house or get a new phone number. You’ll find a list of approved databases on the UK government’s website.
Make sure your dog wears an ID tag
Make sure that your dog’s collar has an ID tag attached. Not only is it a legal requirement in the UK, but it could help reunite you with your dog if they go missing.
The ID tag must have your name and address on it, but it’s also advised to include your mobile number in case they go missing on a walk.
Use reputable dog sitters and kennels
Sometimes you’ll need to leave your dog to be cared for by others. It’s important to make sure that any dog sitter or kennel is fully licensed and meets all the legal requirements. If they aren’t, and your dog escapes or is stolen under their care, your pet insurance might not cover you for things like:
- Missing posters
- Pet theft.
Preventing dog theft outside your home
Opportunist thieves have been known to steal dogs from parks, pavements and outside shops. These tips and tricks could help keep you and your pooch safe when you’re out on walks.
Use an anti-theft dog lead
Most dog leads use a simple spring locking mechanism to keep your pooch secured. Unfortunately leads like this are easy for thieves to unfasten given the opportunity. Anti-theft dog leads use combination locking mechanisms or carabiner clips to make it harder for opportunists to unfasten them. They also tend to be made from more robust, hardwearing fabrics so they’re less likely to fray and more difficult to cut.
Use reputable dog walkers
If your dog goes out with a walker, make sure they’re fully trained, licensed and insured. Choose dog walkers that only walk small groups of dogs so they can keep a close eye on your pooch while they’re having fun with their friends.
Don’t give others too much information about your dog on walks
Be vigilant of others while you’re out walking your dog. Most dog lovers are friendly, and they may ask questions about your pet. However, potential thieves could do this to try and find out information or even get close enough to steal the dog.
Avoid answering if people ask whether your dog is neutered, if they’re pedigree or whether they have puppies at home. Potential thieves can sometimes ask these questions to decide if dogs are worth stealing to breed from.
Don’t put their name on their ID tag
It’s not recommended to include your dog’s name on their ID tag, as this could help thieves lure them in. They could even pose as the dog’s real owner if the dog responds to its name.
Mix up your walks
Try to avoid walking your dog at the exact same time and place each day. Thieves may learn your routine and wait to catch you off guard. Take your pet to different places if you can’t change your walk times, so opportunists can’t predict where you might be.
Never leave your dog alone outside shops
Although you may often see dogs waiting outside shops for their owners, this is not advised. Anybody could snatch a dog while it’s tied up outside, as bystanders won’t know if they’re the real owner or not. It can also be a stressful experience for your dog to be left alone in a public place.
Don’t leave your dog alone in the car
Leaving a dog alone in the car can be risky for several reasons. Most dog owners are aware how hot it can get in the car on a sunny day. But the risk of theft is another reason to avoid doing this. Just as with a handbag or other valuable items, thieves could break into your car to snatch your dog if they are left alone.
Carry an anti-theft dog tracker or alarm
An anti-theft dog tracker is a GPS for your dog. It attaches to their collar or harness so you can track where they are on an app or other device. These are popular with dogs that have a tendency to run away, but can be equally helpful if your dog is stolen.
It can also be reassuring to carry a personal alarm to alert people nearby if you feel threatened while walking your dog. The loud noise may act as a deterrent and prevent your dog from being stolen.
Train your dog
While you won’t be able to teach your dog to sniff out thieves, training your dog well can help prevent dog theft. Teach your dog recall so they come to you when you give the command. Once you have a good recall trained, you can teach your dog to come back to you if they see other people nearby unexpectedly. A dog walking close to its owner is less of a target than one running freely some distance away.
Preventing theft on social media
If you want to keep your dog safe from thieves, it’s also important to be mindful when using social media. Think about the following before you post:
Be mindful when advertising a litter of puppies
Welcoming puppies into your home can be a very exciting time. Many sellers choose to showcase and advertise the litter on social media. But, it’s also common for thieves to pose as interested parties to try and get information out of you.
Don’t disclose your address to anyone you don’t know until you know for sure that they’re looking to buy a puppy. Many breeders ask for personal information from prospective buyers such as their full names and addresses, before agreeing to let them come visit.
Try not to post pictures where thieves can clearly work out where you live or where you’re keeping the puppies in your adverts too.
Don’t post too much information about where you live
It’s only natural to want to share cute photos and videos of your dogs online. But this can give potential thieves valuable information. Posting pictures outside the front of your home with the address visible could be enough for prospective thieves. Car registrations can also enable thieves to find out where you live, so be sure to remove these from any content you post online.
Make sure ID tags aren’t visible in pictures
If your dog’s ID tag includes your home address, thieves may be able to read this on some photos. Make sure you edit this information out before you post, or choose an angle where the tag is blurred or isn’t legible.
What to do if your dog is stolen
If your dog is stolen, it can be a very distressing time, but it’s important to act fast:
1. Report the theft to the police straight away. Insist that the dog is reported as stolen and not missing and make a note of the crime reference number.
2. Notify your microchip database provider.
3. Contact your insurer. Sainsbury’s Bank Pet Insurance, provided by Pinnacle Insurance plc, can help pay towards local advertising costs and monetary rewards for their safe return.
4. Depending on where the dog was stolen, ask people nearby to help. If your dog was stolen on a walk, were there any witnesses who might have smartphone footage of the incident? If the dog was stolen from your home, ask neighbours to check their smart cameras for any footage that could help the police.
5. Use missing and stolen animal websites like DogLost.co.uk.
6. Share information about the theft on social media. There are Facebook groups for lost and stolen animals, both local and national. Also share on any neighbourhood or community groups, as people nearby may have seen something and might be able to help. Share all the information about the theft that you have, including things like:
- The date, time and location of the theft
- The appearance of the thieves if you saw them and what they were wearing
- What vehicle they were driving
- Recent photographs of your dog with any distinct markings that might help people identify them
7. If thieves feel they may be unable to keep or sell the dog they might abandon it. Inform local rescue centres, animal charities and vet practices and provide a photo so they can look out for your dog.
8. Monitor places where thieves may try to sell your dog, like pet websites, shops and notice boards.
Frequently asked questions