We love our dogs, sometimes more than we care to admit, and the thought of anything happening to them simply doesn’t bear thinking about. That’s why it’s so important that we take whatever measures we can to protect them at all times.
Especially in recent times, when dog theft for particular breeds is on the rise. Fortunately there are measures we can all take to ensure our dogs live long and happy lives in our care!
Why is dog theft increasing?
The number of people rescuing, buying and adopting a dog has grown in recent years particularly since the pandemic led to staying at home more and the rise in working from home becoming more normalised. Today, it’s estimated that 27% of UK adults have a dog with a projected population of 10.2 million pet dogs.
With one in four people owning at least one dog, it’s fair to say they are pretty common in today’s society. However, certain ‘designer’ breeds such as French Bulldogs and Cockapoos have grown in popularity, while 2021 saw a huge spike in thefts of Jack Russells.
Criminals are stealing pedigree dogs to use them for breeding purposes due to the lucrative nature of puppy farming. To avoid adding fuel to this terrible fire, it’s best to adopt a dog from a reputable breeder, such as those approved by the Kennel Club, or consider rescuing a dog from a shelter.
How to protect your dog from criminals?
The UK Government through its dedicated Pet Theft Taskforce is doing its bit to combat the prevalence of pet abduction, introducing a new offence which results in stricter punishment for thieves.
There are, however, measures we can take as dog owners to give our four-legged friends as much protection as possible from people looking to steal them. From increasing the security of our homes to good practices when out on walks and technology that shifts the balance of power back to dog owners.
1. Use technolgy to improve pet security
When we have to leave our dogs at home some of us feel better if we can still have ‘eyes’ on them. That’s where technology offers a helping hand thanks to security cameras and apps that connect from one device to another. These apps alert us to any noises being made at home and commonly offer live video feed into your home to investigate any disturbances – such as an intruder.
We can also see if our dogs are in distress from being left alone, helping us to understand if we can give them some training so that being left alone isn’t so hard for them. Separation anxiety is something that can be worked on to help ease your dog into being left alone.
Is pet security technology safe?
Supervising apps are great for checking in remotely but they can pose other security risks to your home. Hackers may find a way into your home network through apps such as these so it’s important to enable multi-factor authentication wherever possible on your devices.
Jed Kafetz, Head of Penetration Testing at cybersecurity experts Redscan says, “MFA (multi-factor authentication) provides an important secondary layer of defence in the event of a password being stolen and is especially important given people’s tendency to reuse passwords across accounts”.
There is also the risk of using outdated apps which are more vulnerable to hackers as their updates commonly carry security updates. Hackers may then infiltrate your monitoring app and see for themselves if the dog is left home alone. Ensure that any pet security technology you use to protect and monitor your dog is updated as soon as they become available.
2. Secure your home and garden
Sadly, many pedigree dogs are stolen from their homes so it’s vital that you make your house and garden as secure as possible from would-be thieves. From keeping all of your doors and windows locked, even when you are at home, to securing your garden gate with strong padlocks, it all makes a difference.
The front garden is a particularly vulnerable area for your dog’s safety because it’s not uncommon for people to walk past without raising suspicion. If your dog is left unattended here, they are at risk of being swiped by a thief. You can further protect your property with security cameras and outdoor lighting to show any criminal that your home is well defended and they will be captured on video if they trespass.
3. Protect your dog on walks
Besides the home, some dog owners have had their precious pooch stolen from right under their noses in public places like parks. Dog snatchers may feign interest in your dog, swooping down to say hello before cutting through your leash and running off. It’s terrible to think about but there are ways to defend against this type of opportunist crime.
- Vary your walks so that thieves don’t know when to expect you – It’s common for thieves to monitor the dogs they steal beforehand, knowing when they are walked, when they are left alone, etc, so being unpredictable makes it harder for thieves to single your dog out.
- Never leave your dog unattended in public – Even if you are just nipping into the shop, either bring your dog with you or take them home and then go to the shop. You don’t know when a thief might be passing so don’t give them an opportunity.
- Theft proof collars and leads – To prevent your dog being untethered to you, consider investing in theft proof collars and leads made from cut-proof materials. They are often a little more expensive but provide peace of mind when you are out walking.
- Don’t put your dog’s name on their collar – It might seem important to put your dog’s name on their collar along with your contact details and address but it’s better to not. Criminals can learn your dog’s name, call them over and lure them away with treats.
4. Microchips and GPS trackers
If your dog is stolen from you, one of the best defences you have is their microchip.
The RSPCA says, “Microchipping your pet gives them the best chance of being identified and returned to you if they get lost or stolen”.
Alert the police immediately if your dog is stolen to ensure you are given a crime number then call the microchip database. Now, if someone else tries to register your dog, they will be alerted and your dog can hopefully be returned to you.
GPS trackers are a great way to track your dog’s movements if they are stolen from you, however at present these are commonly attached to their collar or harness. If the thief doesn’t remove this then it’s a great way to lead the police to their door but it can also help track your pooch down if they manage to escape their captor.
5. Take care on social media
Social media is a wonderful way to share the joy our dogs give us with friends, family and the rest of the world. Pet Instagram profiles are abundant and they are amazing if you need a daily dose of dog in your feed.
However, sharing too much information about your pets via social media can lead criminals to your dog. Thieves may be trawling social media posts in their area for signs of valuable dogs to steal to order.
Sharing too much can let them piece together the walking routes you take and what your schedule is. It’s best to avoid sharing images of your dog publicly just in case there are thieves on the lookout.