Dog owners who have a garden are some of the luckiest out there: your dog has a natural environment where they can play and run, you can let them out at any time of day, and they’re getting lots of physical exercises!
However, the COVID-19 pandemic has had an unfortunate side effect: since people want to get a puppy to make quarantine more bearable, thieves are taking advantage and stealing dogs from their homes to sell them at high prices. The police are urging dog owners to take extra precautions, especially when their pets are out in the garden.
That’s because, according to the Pet Theft Census, most dog theft cases in the UK (52%) occur in the owner’s garden.
Should I stop my dog from playing in the garden?
No, not at all! Forcing your dog to suddenly spend all day indoors and depriving them of playtime in nature can be bad for their physical and mental health, not to mention that they can become destructive when bored. However, you do need to take a few measures to turn the garden into a safe space. Here are the most important ones:
Lock the gates
Even if you live in a safe neighbourhood and haven’t had any issues with leaving the gates open, it’s best if you keep them under lock and key. Unlocked garden doors are an invitation for thieves to come in. In general, they look for the easiest target, so they quit and move on to the next one when they see that the garden door is locked. For added safety, fit a bell or gate alarm so you can hear anyone trying to come in.
Check for holes where dogs can be pulled through.
When the gates are closed, thieves can still get your dog by pulling them through a hole in or under the fence. This is especially the case for small, friendly dogs, which are also the most stolen ones. Even without the danger of dog thefts, it’s still a good idea to cover any holes because dogs can get curious, run away from there, and get lost. Placing large rocks at the bottom of the fence is a safe and inexpensive way to discourage them from digging holes.
Install a surveillance system
If you have the budget and want the highest level of safety for your dog, a surveillance system is a great investment. When you set it up, make sure the camera is in a visible spot (thieves are immediately discouraged when they see surveillance cams) and that it doesn’t have dead angles.
Never leave your dog unattended in the garden.
Even if your dog is well-behaved and doesn’t try to run away or dig out the flower bed, don’t leave things to chance and supervise them while they’re out in the garden. It only takes 45 seconds for a thief to steal your dog and finding them can be difficult.