6.5 Million pets enter shelters in the U.S. every year, and that doesn’t take into account the countless pets left roaming the streets… will your dog be one of them? It’s National Pet ID Week, the time devoted to spreading awareness of the importance of identifying your pet.
It’s a big, wonderful world out there filled with smells and sights dogs love to explore. That squirrel across the street, or the doggie neighbor on a walk, and even the mail truck are all reasons why your pup might go wandering out of the yard. Even a dog that you believe would never leave can accidentally get caught up in the moment, and all of a sudden he has no idea where he is.
We’ve all seen the lost dog posters and pictures on social media with owners desperate to find their fur baby. It truly is heartbreaking. So how can you ensure that this doesn’t happen to your own dog? We have outlined the 10 simple rules to follow to keep your dog safe and at home.
1. Be able to see where he is at all times
Even if you have an invisible fence or you think your dog won’t wander, always know where he is. That means being outside with him, or watching him through the window. So if he does have an inclination to go farther than he should, you will know right away.
2. Keep him on a leash
If your dog is not trained to stay in the yard, or you are in a public place, it is best to keep him on a leash. Even if it is legal to have your dog off leash, doesn’t mean it’s always the best idea. When your dog is in a new or unfamiliar place, anything can make him want to run or panic. A car passing by or meeting a new dog friend on a walk, can send your dog running in the opposite direction and even into the street.
3. Have a collar that is secure
Just having a leash on your pup isn’t enough to keep him safe. Make sure you have a collar that is secure enough around his neck that he cannot slip out. (Also make sure that it’s not too tight!) Another way to ensure that your dog won’t slip out of his leash is to buy a harness, or a similar type of lead that wraps around his body. That way, if he is still able to wiggle out of his collar, the harness will have a more secure hold on him.
4. Tag his collar
So, you’ve taken all of the above precautions, but the leash slips out of your hands! What now? If your dog does get away from you, having him identified and tagged is going to be the first hope to get him home. If people see your dog, the first thing they will look for is a tag and a collar. Keeping your phone number, his vaccination tags and dog ID tags, and even his name hanging on his collar will get him home faster, with a better chance of being safe.
5. Secure your property
If you want to be able to let your dog outside without having to keep him on a leash, putting a fence up around your yard is the easiest way to make sure your dog doesn’t wander easily. However, it’s not 100% fool proof. If you have a dog that jumps fences, you’ll always have to be out there with him. It is also important to maintain the fence, to make sure there are no holes or rotting wood where he could get out or dig under.
Microchipping is a way to tell who owns the dog, even if he had slipped out of his collar and has no identification. Most shelters and rescues now scan for chips when they find a dog. If registered to you, they will call you and let you know your dog has been found. Home Again is one useful site. For a membership fee of $18/year, you can join Home Again, a site that provides lost pet registration for any brand microchip, lost pet alerts, and a pet medical emergency hotline.
7. Collars with tracking devices
If you want to go one step further to ensure your dog’s safety, a GPS collar might be the way to go. Especially if you have a dog that is always finding ways to get out of the house. Try the Whistle GPS collar. The collar is $99 and the monthly fee is $9.95, but Whistle notifies you if your dog leaves his home zone and lets your track his movements.
8. Familiarize your dog with the area
Again, if your dog does get away from you, it is important that he has some idea where he is. Taking him on walks in the surrounding area, familiarizing him with the streets and sidewalks, and then leading him home again, will give him a sense of direction, and possibly allow him to find his way home on his own.
9. Keep doors and windows secure
It happens more than you think. It’s a windy day and an unlocked door blows open without the owner seeing. Before you know it, your dog is out the door and there is no trace of him. This can be a panicky moment especially since you did not see which way your dog went. Always be sure to lock doors and secure windows (including car windows!), so your dog can not get out without you knowing!
10. Proper training
The basis of all of these tips is to have a dog that is trained well and listens. Sure, accidents happen, but if you have a dog that listens to commands such as come, here, heel, sit, stay, it greatly minimizes the chance that they will get out of control and loose.
These tips and reminders will help decrease the chances your dog goes missing. If he does get out, if you have taken these steps, the chances of him getting home are much greater than if ignored. Be a caring pup parent and make sure you are protecting them.
My dogs have given me an entirely new spiritual perspective on life. I now have a genuine understanding of unconditional love and provision.