One of the worst nightmares, for dog owners, is that their beloved dog goes missing.
The Dogs Trust’s Stray Dogs Survey 2015 estimated that, over 2014-2015, 102,363 stray dogs were handled by local authority dog wardens and environmental health officers (47,000 of which were deemed abandoned, though). According to the Survey, between 1 April 2014 and 31 March 2015, around 50% of collected dogs were reunited with their owners, 22% passed to welfare organisations or dog kennels for rehoming, while a reputed number of 5,142 dogs was put to sleep by local authorities (around 5%).
Many people are unaware of the fact that, if a stray dog is collected and not claimed within 7 days, local authorities can either rehome it, pass it to dog rehoming centres, or euthanise it (see Sections 149(6) and 150(2) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 as amended).
Prevention is better than cure, so here you are some tips to avoid your dog be lost, and eventually enhance your chances to be reunited with it in the worst case scenario.
Ensure the collar fits properly
A collar should fit the dog comfortably, but at the same time not be loose. The usual advice is to fasten it as to allow you to easily slide two fingers between the collar and the dog’s neck. If you use a head collar, always secure the leash to the normal collar as well. This precaution will avoid the risk of escaping.
Strong recall training
Work hard on recall training. Especially if you have a dog with a high prey drive, you need your recall to be strong enough to ensure the dog’s response also in presence of distractions such as other animals, toys, food, etc. There are several exercises you can practice to achieve this. I myself went to dog training classes where I received precious advice regarding useful exercises and I keep working on this.
In case you have a good recall and control over your dog, but it sometimes likes wondering around, you can also consider to use a collar with a GPS device to track your dog. There are many of those in commerce.
If you are unsure, opt for enclosed dog exercise areas or use a long line
I personally prefer to exercise my dog in enclosed dog areas. If you know that your dog would/could chase wild animals, run after footballs, bikes, or whatever else, there are at least two good reasons for choosing a safe environment where to let it off: prevent it from going missing, and keep it under control (which is also imposed by the law).
You can explore your local area to discover whether there are any enclosed dog areas and check our Dog Parks category, featuring reviews of London enclosed dog areas/parks. For out of London enclosed areas, you can also refer to the Facebook group Dog Walking Fields – securely fenced, private, off lead dog walking areas and map (which lists a number of enclosed areas across the UK, many of which are private spaces for hire) to find a convenient one.
Dog-proof your garden’s fence and don’t leave your dog outside while you are away
Many dogs go lost because they escape from gardens, or are stolen while left unattended in houses’ gardens. Check your garden’s fence for holes or other openings which could put your dog at risk of escaping and don’t leave it outside while you are away.
KYD – Know Your Dog
Know your dog, i.e. assess the circumstances your dog is unconfortable with, including fireworks nights, thunderstorms, very crowded places, other animals presence, etc., and put in place all common sense precautions to prevent your dog escapes for fear.
Microchip your dog and keep your details up-to-date
Microchipping is a very good way to make sure your dog returns to you as soon as it is scanned. This has recently also become a legal requirement (see our earlier post on the topic).
In case you move house, change phone number, email address or wish to add other contact details, remember to contact the database you registered with asking to update your details (with some databases, as for example Petlog, you can do this online, as long as you have activated your online account).
Use a collar tag
A collar tag with your name, address and phone number is maybe the best way to ensure the quickest reunion between you and your dog in case someone finds it. Moreover, that a dog shall wear a collar with a tag or inscription carrying the name and address of the owner when in a public place is required by the Control of Dogs Order 1992 (Section 2).
Print and keep with you a lost dog contact list
To take action as quickly as possible is essential in case your dog is lost. For this reason it can be handy to print and keep with you a list of phone numbers to call in case of emergency (local council dog wardens, animal welfare organisations, lost dog lines, etc.). Find our complete lost dog contact list blog post.
Take some good pictures of your dog
Take and keep at hand some recent good pictures of your dog in a sit and standing, to use for posters and on social networks in case it is lost.
Collect your dog’s DNA
You can collect your dog’s DNA by keeping a piece of nail or a whisker, or register with a DNA database. Shall your dog’s microchip not be working properly, this could be another resource, and you never know what new technologies could do to help.
A good example of this is a pilot dog DNA scheme carried out by the London Borough of Barking & Dagenham. Although the scheme aims at collecting dogs DNA in order to test it for uncollected fouling, imagine if your dog is lost and you are warned by the Council that your dog’s DNA was found in mess collected in a certain place. This would definetely help in your researches.
©2016 Copyright The Londog. All rights reserved.