According to Direct Line, an average of five dogs a day were stolen in 2019. Sadly in 2020, these numbers have soared, with more puppies and dogs vulnerable to this heinous crime.
The demand from homes desperate to welcome a puppy or dog into their family rose dramatically throughout the pandemic. With reputable breeders unable to keep up with demand, criminals have been capitalising on the opportunity targeting boarding kennels, homes, gardens, dog walkers and even unsuspecting owners enjoying walks with their beloved dogs.
This article will explore the steps you can take to keep your dog safe from dog theft.
Why is dog theft on the rise?
Since lockdown began, there has been an extraordinary increase in the number of people wanting to purchase a puppy or dog. The Kennel Club saw an upsurge of 168% of people searching for puppies for sale at the beginning of lockdown alone.
Pets for Homes, a marketplace listing dogs for sale, saw monthly hits to their site hit 18 million, from a previous 10 million a month.
This presents an opportunity for crooks to make a quick fortune from dog theft, so now more than ever, it is imperative that we are security conscious when it comes to our pets.
How to prevent dog theft
Awareness is the number one tool that will help keep your dog safe from theft. The majority of dogs stolen are taken when left unattended outside; they’re an easy target for an opportunistic thief.
Never leave you dog unattended:
- Outside a shop or school or anywhere else
- In your vehicle
- In your garden
- In an outdoor kennel
Vigilance is a deterrent in itself, but let’s look at the steps you can take to secure your home, garden, and activities from being a target for dog theft.
Dog theft prevention tools for your home
At Bed and Bone we have always been incredibly security conscious, as a home daycare and boarding facility we take the protection and safety of the dogs in our care incredibly seriously. The dogs we care for are never left unattended and the whole property has secure high fencing but having these extra security measures is nonetheless very important to us.
Here are some of the tools we use to secure our home and deter dog theft.
Blink – Home Security Cameras
These are fantastic wireless security cameras that can be installed both indoors and outdoors. They are weather resistant with two-way audio, and most importantly, have built-in motion detectors. We have a number of these on our property to ensure we will always be alerted to any movement in the vicinity.
We never leave our client’s dogs unattended at home, but with our security cameras, we have peace of mind that we will be notified of any potential intruders even when we’re in bed!
Ring doorbell with outdoor light
A ring doorbell acts as a great deterrent and alert device in one. The camera on this doorbell detects any motion at the front of the house and will send an immediate notification to your phone.
We’ve coupled ours with their outdoor light camera, which ramps up the security delivered by this affordable product. You can install it all yourself easily, and it offers great peace of mind.
Home alarm system
A home alarm system is the ultimate in home security and a worthy investment. You can choose a system that automatically alerts the police to an intruder or one which notifies you.
Ring offers a security camera with lights and a siren alarm which you can fit yourself, and just like the doorbell, it will alert directly to your phone.
Window jammers are again easy to install and give that extra layer of security to your windows. They are super easy to install and are cheap too.
Check your fences and gates
You want your garden to be escape-proof for your dog in any event, so regularly check your fences and gates to ensure they are safe. Adding extra locks to any gates is a cheap and easy task to make the outside of your home more secure.
Remember – never leave your dog unattended in your garden, especially at night and be extra vigilant in bad weather incase there’s damage to fences.
Dog theft prevention for your car
It is best to never leave your dog unattended in your car; it’s simply not worth the risk. But there are some additional security measures you can put in place to make your vehicle, and ultimately your dog, less of a target.
Don’t leave your car keys in the ignition of your vehicle
These retractable car keys are an excellent way to ensure your car keys are never left in the ignition of your car or van. This will guard against opportunists who try to steal your vehicle with your dogs inside.
Tint your passenger windows
Even if you never plan to leave your dog unattended in your car, tinting your windows is a simple way to reduce vision into your vehicle. They have the added benefit of reducing the heat levels in your vehicle when summer hits too.
Thieves are known to monitor movements, so any steps that you can take to reduce the visibility of your dog are a plus.
CCTV window stickers
Whether you have CCTV in your vehicle or not, these window stickers act as an effective deterrent to anybody snooping around your car.
Many years ago, while we walked our dogs nearby, we witnessed a couple of men scoping out vehicles in the car park. They saw our warning sticker and promptly moved along. Of course, there were no dogs in there at the time, but it was good to see that this simple sticker kept them away.
Slam locks for vans
These are a brilliant tool, particularly for professional dog walkers. When you stop picking up and dropping off dogs, these locks ensure that you never inadvertently forget to lock the van. When you close the door, they automatically lock the vehicle.
Additional security for your dog crate
Fitting a padlock or bike lock to your dog’s crate in the boot of the car adds another barrier to entry for any would-be thief. Ideally, you won’t be leaving your dog unattended in the vehicle, but this may be unavoidable for dog walkers who work alone. This is an easy way to increase security while you quickly dash in and out. We use lockable crash tested TRANSK9 dog cages to transport dogs and these are amazingly secure.
Dog theft prevention on walks
Sadly we have seen that dogs are no longer just being stolen from outside shops, gardens, or kennels, but there have been cases of owners being robbed while on dog walks. Nobody deserves to have their dog walks ruined, it’s one of the most special activities we do with our dogs, so it pays to be prepared.
Walk in busier locations and be wary of strangers
Try and avoid walking in isolated places or when it’s dark. If you can walk with someone else, then do so, but just being in a populated place makes dog theft much less likely.
Be wary of any strangers taking an interest in your dog. In regular times we all love a bit of a chat about our dogs, but right now, it’s better to be cautious and move along.
Vary your dog walking routine
Being less predictable is a helpful way to throw potential thieves off the scent. Adapt the times or routes you take on your dog walks. Your dog will love the new variety too!
Long Paws Comfort Lead with safety clip
We bought these leads from The Dog House in Balham, and they’re such a genius idea. They’re regular dog leads, but the clip to attach to your dog’s collar or harness has a locking karabiner safety clip. Attaching this to an old fashioned buckle collar or a harness as opposed to a quick release style collar will be much safer.
You can also loop a normal dog leash through the handle of the safety clip lead and attach it to your own belt loop!
This gives extra peace of mind because it means if anybody did try to unclip your dog on a walk surreptitiously, it wouldn’t be as easy or quick as with a standard leash.
Heres a quick instructional video for you.
Carry a whistle or personal alarm
A dog whistle or a personal alarm will allow you to quickly and easily draw attention to yourself if you need help. Just having this with you will make you feel more confident that you will be able to attract attention and assistance should you need it.
What to do if your dog is lost or stolen
This is every dog parent’s worst nightmare. But knowing in advance what steps to take means that if the worst should happen, you’ll know exactly what to do.
It’s worthwhile having a couple of clear photos of your dog on your phone or computer that you can access easily. We all have probably thousands of pics of our four-legged besties, but this is not the time you will want to trawl through them.
- Contact your dog’s microchip company to alert them so they can put it on their database
- Report to the police if you suspect your dog’s been stolen
- Register your dog on DogLost < https://www.doglost.co.uk/ > and create a poster
- Share your DogLost poster on social media, including local dog and community groups on Facebook
- Ask others to share your dog on social media as much as possible and country wide; make your dog ‘too hot to handle’
- Ask for help in your local community and beyond to print and put up posters
- Keep an eye on Gumtree, Pets 4 Homes, Freeads, Preloved, and Friday-Ad for new dogs for sale
- Don’t give up
Dog theft is a topic that is incredibly emotive and potentially anxiety-provoking. We in no way want to cause you undue concern, but being aware of the problem is so crucial right now. We hope these tips have helped you to feel more confident about keeping your dog happy and safe with you, where they belong.