How to protect your dog from being stolen

With more of us working from home since the start of the pandemic, there’s been an increase in demand for our four-legged friends. And this increase in demand has seen the prices of much-loved pooches double in most cases, sometimes trebling what they were a year ago for those sought-after breeds.

Unfortunately, this demand has also led to an increase in dog thefts as criminals look to make a quick buck by stealing, breeding, and selling on.

It was reported by ITV recently that the charity DogLost state that there has been an increase in dog theft by 170% since lockdown began. Having a dog stolen can cause families a great deal of distress. In this article we aim to outline some ways you can protect yourselves and your dog(s).

At Home

  • Make sure your garden is secure. It’s advisable to ensure that any gates or entrances are secured with locks. On the National Animal Welfare Trust website, it highlights that 50% of dog thefts are from gardens!
  • Consider additional security measures such as motion-sensor security lights and CCTV cameras. There’s a range of external CCTV cameras from Ring, Nest, Hive and Amazon. See our article on Protecting your home for more tips here.
  • If you don’t have an alarm system, it might also be worth investing in one – whether that’s a self-install or monitored alarm system, not only can these measures deter would be thieves, it also offers you added peace of mind.
  • Try not to let your dog(s) out in the garden unsupervised or keep them in view.

Out and about

  • Be aware of your surroundings. Often thieves will look for easy targets – people distracted by their phone or children. There has been a notable increase in owners being targeted whilst out walking their dogs.
  • Be sure to carry your phone with you and have it easily to hand.
  • If you’re able to, walk with someone else, either a family member, or arrange a time to meet up with a neighbour who also has a dog.
  • Naturally, dog walkers talk to other dog walkers, and you’ll probably be familiar with dog owners in your local area but beware of strangers asking questions about your dog.
  • Never leave your dog unattended when you’re out and about – if you’re popping to the shop, it’s advisable not to tie them up outside and leave them whilst you pop in and grab a few bits. And don’t leave them in the car on their own either. Both provide a quick opportunity for someone to grab your dog and be gone.
  • Vary the times and routes of your walk.
  • Dogs love a good run around the park or in open fields, so it’s important to train your dog to have good recall. Alternatively, you could put them on a long-line so that you’re still in control but allowing them some (restricted) freedom
  • Carry a personal alarm with you to draw attention to yourself if you’re targeted by a dognapper.

Other measures

  • If your dog isn’t already microchipped, get an appointment booked in with the vets. All puppies must be microchipped by 8 weeks by law.
  • They should always wear a dog collar and ID tag. It’s a legal requirement to have your address on there, but maybe just add postcode and house number (or name if applicable).  A telephone number useful if there’s room.
  • Take lots of photos of your dog(s) including any unusual markings.
  • Choose your dog walker, sitter, or boarding kennels carefully.

If your dog or puppy is stolen:

  • Act quickly – call the police immediately to notify them that your dog has been stolen and ask for a crime reference number.
  • Make the dog ‘too hot to handle’: Share photos and a clear description of your dog across Facebook and ask people to share. Post in local community Facebook groups, asking for people to be aware that your dog was stolen, to look out for it and to share as widely as possible.
  • Report the loss to the microchip database company.
  • Contact your insurer to advise them of the theft and ask for what help they can offer under the terms of your policy.
  • Put up posters in your local area.
  • Advertise your dog as stolen on pet selling websites – particularly where prospective owners are looking for dogs to buy or adopt.
  • List your dog as stolen on missing animal websites.
  • Contact local vets to advise them of the theft, in case the dog is taken to the vet for treatment.
  • Contact animal shelters.