It’s every pet parent’s worst nightmare — your pet goes missing. Sadly, this nightmare becomes a reality for around 10 million pets in the United States each year. To help prevent your dog from being one of them, here are some simple, yet effective things you can do.
10.Keep Them Leashed on Walks
Leashed dogs are safe dogs! Especially when walking around busy neighborhoods and city streets. Keeping your dog leashed on walks not only keeps them safe from wandering off or getting lost, but it can also prevent them from getting hit by a car, into an altercation with another dog, or eating something they shouldn’t. Even well-trained dogs have been known to take off to greet another dog or chase a squirrel. Save off-leash time for the backyard or park, where you can ensure their security. To keep your dog safe and prevent them from getting lost — always keep them leashed on walks!
9. Make Sure They Have Proper ID Tags
Always make sure your pet has proper ID tags with the most current contact information. While this won’t prevent your dog from getting lost, it can help ensure a quick and safe return if your dog is found. When choosing tags, look for ones made with high-quality materials that are engraved or etched over printed varieties that can wear away quickly. Be sure to check your dog’s tag often to make sure it’s secure and still readable.
8. Get Them Microchipped
While ID tags are an absolute must and often the first line of defense if your dog gets lost, a microchip offers a more permanent solution. Unfortunately, ID tags can break off, your dog might wiggle their way out of their collar, or they may even slip out of the house when they’re not wearing them. A microchip, on the other hand, will never falter. These tiny implants, about the size of a grain of rice, can be quickly and easily placed by your vet with a simple injection.
When a dog is found, it’s standard practice at every animal shelter and veterinary office to scan for a microchip. Once scanned, you’ll be notified right away and can go pick up your dog. Microchips are a simple, effective way to safeguard your pet.
7. Practice Obedience Training and Recall
While training your dog is important for many reasons, one of the most important is keeping them safe! Practicing some basic obedience training, impulse control, and recall can help reduce the chances your dog may run off or if they do run off, they’ll be more likely to return upon your recall command. Starting early is best but dogs of any age can benefit from training, so grab some treats and get to work!
6. Pet-Proof Your Home and Yard
One of the most common ways dogs go missing is by escaping from their own homes, so “pet-proofing” your house and yard is a must!
Make sure doors and windows are properly closed. Some dogs are even clever enough to learn how to open doors — switching from levers to door knobs or adding a second locking mechanism can help prevent this. If your dog is the type to bolt for the front door as soon as it opens, consider installing a second barrier like a doggie gate.
Outside the home, check fences for any gaps your dog might squeeze through or places they might dig under. While a good fence can certainly keep a dog in — if given enough time, many dogs can and will find a way around it by digging, chewing, or climbing. Never leave pets unattended outside, especially for long periods of time or when you're away.
5. Mind Your Breed
While any dog can decide to run off or end up missing, some breeds are more prone to it than others. If you have a high-energy working breed like a Siberian Husky or Belgian Malinois, don’t be surprised if they end up being master escape artists. These dogs were bred for agility and endurance that your standard backyard fence may be no match for!
Breeds with a high prey drive like terriers or hounds may also try to take off, especially to chase after a squirrel or bird. Bottom line — know your breed’s needs and be prepared with proper training, exercise, and boundaries.
Sadly, dog theft is also a risk, especially for certain breeds. If you own a French Bulldog, Yorkshire Terrier, or other breeds that are commonly targeted by thieves, you’ll want to take extra precautions.
4. Make Sure They Are Getting Enough Exercise
Dogs that don’t get enough exercise or are pent up all day are much more likely to have the desire to roam. Without an outlet for their energy, dogs will look to find their own way. This can lead to all sorts of destructive behaviors including digging, chewing, and you guessed it — running away! To help keep your dog from wanting to take off at the first chance they get, make sure they are getting enough exercise.
How much exercise a dog needs will vary greatly based on their breed, age, and health factors so talk to your vet to make sure their needs are being met. In addition to exercise, you can keep your dog mentally stimulated with enrichment tools like treat puzzles, Kongs, and other interactive dog toys.
3. Check Their Gear
It’s important to do a “gear check” from time to time to ensure your dog’s leashes, collars, harnesses, and any other walking gear are in tip-top shape! Leashes fray, metal clips can bend, and collars can become stretched out. The last place you want your dog’s leash to snap or collar to slip off is while you’re out on a walk. Get in the habit of doing routine inspections of your dog’s gear, especially if you have a puppy that is quickly growing or taking their chewing phase out on the leash.
2. Holiday and Houseguest Safety
Whether you're hosting out-of-towners, having a backyard barbeque, or throwing a party — holidays and houseguests can spell trouble for your pet. Between intense emotions your dog may be feeling with all the commotion and the possibility that someone leaves a door open, it can, unfortunately, be the perfect recipe for an escape.
Dogs can get overly excited with all the new people around and be looking to mingle, or just the opposite, they may be stressed and be looking to hide. Plan to have a safe, secure place for your pet to be during gatherings, preferably in a separate room with the television or radio on and some comfort items like toys and blankets. You can take your dog out to socialize (if they are comfortable with it) but keep them secure while people are coming in and out.
Celebrations that are typically accompanied by fireworks, like the 4th of July, can be especially stressful for pets. In fact, more pets go missing on the 4th of July than during any other time of year so it’s important to take extra precautions to keep them safe and secure.
1. Spay and Neuter
Dogs that are not spayed or neutered are much more likely to want to roam than those that are. Why? It’s simple biology — they are looking for a mate! To help prevent unwanted escapes (and unintended breeding) have your dog spayed or neutered. Not only does it have several health and behavioral benefits for your dog and make them less likely to run away, but it can also help prevent adding to already overcrowded animal shelters.