11 Tips to Prevent and Prepare for a Lost Dog Situation

We’ve all seen them, the lost dog posts on almost every social media group. The family has looked everywhere and they are devastated because they can’t find them.  Some end happily and others, unfortunately don’t.  And if that isn’t enough, dog thefts are also on the rise.  Keeping your dog in your yard doesn’t mean they are safe anymore. 

So, what can you do to help keep your dog safe and prevent a lost dog situation?  There are several things that will help.

Never leave your dog unattended

Even when they go outside “for just a minute,” make sure you are either going outside with them or watching them.  It only takes a minute for somebody to make a move to coax your dog away, and some dogs have an escape route they head straight toward as soon as they are given the chance.

Only use trusted dog sitters

Never allow anybody to watch your dog who doesn’t understand the importance of securing him/her.  You don’t want somebody lackadaisically leaving the gate or door open.  Simply put, if they don’t take the possibility of a lost dog seriously, don’t have them watch your dog. It’s best to have a responsible family member or close friend keep an eye on them while you are out.

Keep your dog inside when you have contractors around

Most contractors don’t think about leaving gates or doors open, and most actually will leave them open to make it easier to work, so make sure your dog is safely put away inside or in a crate, etc.  This is especially true as the weather gets warmer and people are outside working on their yards.

Make sure you have a fenced yard or use a harness and a secure leash

NEVER use an invisible fence.  These do more damage than good, create a litany of other behavior problems and prevent your dog from getting back in your yard if they do get away.  Invest in a solid, good fence for your yard and make sure you secure the bottom of your fence so your dog can not dig out. 

If you don’t have a fence and can’t afford to put one in, use a harness on your dog (not a collar they can slip out of or choke on if they pull) and a long, secure line.  And remember the first tip, never leave your dog outside unattended. 

Train your dog

Trained dogs are much less likely to escape, so make sure you train your pup on obedience behaviors and how to stay in your yard.

Spay or neuter your pup

A fixed pup is less likely to escape in search of a fun date, so make sure you spay or neuter your pup as soon as you can to keep those hormones in check (and help control the over population problem).

In addition to the above items, you also want to do a few things to prep in case your pup does get lost.  Even the best, most careful dog owner can find themselves in a situation where their pup has gone missing, so make sure you do these additional things to prepare. 

Microchip your dog

The microchip can be essential in getting your dog back if they do get away.  Make sure you have your dog microchipped.  Many shelters and rescues offer free or low cost microchip clinics and if you adopt your dog, many will already have chips when you adopt them.  Just make sure you keep it up-to-date with your current information.  These can also help prove that your dog is yours if somebody tries to steal and claim them as their own.

License your dog

Most cities have licensing laws, so make sure you follow them and get your dog registered.  That way they are in the system, so there is a connection back to you if your dog ends up at the shelter, or if somebody steals him/her.  It’s much faster to find you if the city has your information on file. It can mean the difference of getting your pet back before they go up for adoption to another family, or worse, euthanized due to overcrowding.

Get a tag for your dog

Much like licensing your dog, get a tag for them so if they get away, whomever finds them can give you a call or bring your pup back to you.  You want to make as many connections back to you as possible.

Take photos of your dog and keep their paperwork handy

Make sure you have photos of your dog and any special markings they may have.  Many dogs look alike and these photos will help in identifying your dog if the need arises at a shelter or with another person that has found him/her.  Also, keep any paperwork you have that prove your dog belongs to you in case somebody has tried to take him/her.

Get your dog a GPS tracker

If you take one thing away from this article, let this tip be it.  Every dog should have a GPS Tracker.  There are many options available and while some are more expensive, there are affordable options for most.  If your dog gets away, you can simply activate your GPS and find out where they are so you can go get them.  For city dwellers, I highly recommend either Whistle or Tractive (The Tractive unit is much cheaper than the others and has the same capability).  For rural areas, I recommend the Garmin Astro (non-shock) GPS collar.  A future blog will cover the details of these trackers, but I recommend a GPS tracker to all of my clients. Invest in this for peace of mind and safety for you pup.

Losing your dog is one of the scariest situations, so it’s important to do what you can to prevent it and also make preparations to help in case they do get loose or lost.  We are our dog’s biggest advocates and protectors, so be aware of your surroundings, pay close attention and inspect your yard regularly.  Then follow these tips to make sure your dog is safe.

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