There’s nothing worse in the world than the sinking, sickening feeling of having lost your dog. One minute your beloved furbaby is there, part of the family, and the next they’re gone - and without GPS, a cell phone or any other kind of communication device, there’s no way to know where they are.
It’s common for pets to get lost but it’s also highly preventable. In fact, as a pet owner, it’s your responsibility to take every precaution against losing your dog.
Here’s what you should do to prevent your dog getting lost - or stolen.
7 things to do to stop your dog getting lost
- See where your dog is at all times. As dog behaviouralist Cesar Millan says, it’s not enough to think you know where your dog is; you need to see your dog. Think your dog is in the garden? Perhaps she’s dug a hole and escaped. Maybe she’s been snatched by a dog-nabber looking to make a quick buck.
- Make sure your property is secure. Dogs can display amazing athletic ability when they want to see the world! They can jump over high fences, dig under walls and squeeze through tiny holes. They’ll surprise you with their smarts and talent, so you have to stay a step ahead. Also, find out about the breed you own: for example, huskies can dig holes longer than their own bodies. Know what kind of behaviours to expect so you can anticipate them and plan ahead.
- Make sure your pet has a collar with a tag. This ties in with the point above. A collar with a tag may sound obvious, but it’s not always the case. Make sure your dog wears her collar at all times, and that the tag clearly states your phone number (you don’t have to include your dog’s name, especially if your pooch is particularly friendly and may wander off with anyone who calls her name).
Check the collar regularly to make sure it isn’t getting too loose or too tight, and that it isn’t becoming worn out. And don’t choose a collar just because it looks cute or cool. A collar could save your pet’s life, so make sure it’s good quality, fits property and is secure.
- Microchip your dog. A microchip can be scanned to reveal the owner’s name and contact details, plus basic information about the dog. This means if your dog escapes and is found, she can be taken to the vet and scanned, and it will be easy to contact you.
- Keep your dog on a leash in public. Whether you’re just walking to the post-box to fetch the odd bit of snail mail, or you’re in a park, on a mountain or at a nature reserve, keep your dog on a leash. Your pooch may be calm or chilled - but how chilled is he, really, when a squirrel dashes past or a cat crosses his path? Your dog darting off could mean he gets lost or worse - runs into traffic. Plus, if you think you can catch your dog when he runs at full speed… think again.
- Never leave your dog tied up in a public place. One of the easiest ways to lose your dog is by leaving him secured outside a grocery store, coffee shop or other public place. Not only could he slip out of his collar and run away, but he could get stolen.
- Spay or neuter your dog. This helps to quell their urge to roam for mates, which means they’re less likely to try and escape - especially male dogs. Plus, spaying and neutering is your duty as a pet owner, and is essential in preventing overpopulation and unwanted animals.
Pop into your vet for easy micro-chipping
It’s your responsibility to keep your pet safe and protected, just as you would your child. If you haven’t yet microchipped your pet (cat or dog), pop into your vet to get it done. It’s quick and easy. You’ll also be able to pick up a good quality collar, leash and tag.
Read more on this topic in our article What should I do if I’ve lost my pet, or if I find a lost pet?
We hope you’ll never experience the stress of losing your pet - and, if you follow the advice in this article, there’s much less chance of it happening.
Disclaimer: Always consult your vet for professional advice. The Zuki.co.za blog is provided as an educational tool and should not be used to diagnose illness or treat an animal.