Dog Theft Prevention Tips

Dog-Theft-Prevention-Tips Dog Theft Prevention Tips

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, and you can let them out at any time of day. They’re getting lots of physical exercise!

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 of and stealing dogs from their homes to sell them at high prices. The police urge dog owners to take extra precautions, especially when their pets are in the 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, keeping the gates locked with suitable secure bolts and padlocks is still highly advisable.

It is also a good idea to make sure that you have a trellis on top of the gate, so it is harder to climb.

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 in the garden. It only takes 45 seconds for a thief to steal your dog, and finding them can be difficult.

Dog theft prevention tips from outside shops.

dog-theft-from-shops-1024x683 Dog Theft Prevention Tips
Dog tied up outside a shop. Waiting for the owner

Many dog owners combine dog walking with grocery runs: if you’re out with your puppy for the evening walk, why not pop into the store to grab some bread while you’re at it? But while this might be convenient and time-saving, it’s highly unsafe for your dog. Dog theft cases have been on the rise lately, and thieves have taken advantage of this innocent habit.

It only takes an experienced thief 45 seconds to steal a dog, so here’s how to prevent your four-legged friend from becoming a sitting target. Related article Shopping and Dog Theft

Please don’t leave them tied up outside a shop.

Even if you live in a safe neighbourhood, don’t leave your dog tied up outside while you go inside the shop to buy something. You can’t supervise them from inside the shop, and thieves only need a few seconds to untie them. So, unless the shop has a pet-friendly policy and lets you in with the dog, it’s best to take the dog home first and return later for groceries.

Yes, it will take longer, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Refuse help from strangers.

What happens if someone offers to look after your dog while you’re shopping? Well, unless you know them well and you’re sure they’re trustworthy, don’t accept. It doesn’t matter if they look friendly or tell you they have the same dog breed at home.

Find out which local stores are dog-friendly.

Having a list of all nearby pet-friendly stores comes in handy. If you ever need to buy something while walking your dog, you already know how to plan your route, and you can go shopping without worrying about someone wanting to take advantage of your absence. However, remember that most stores only allow dogs if secured with a lead and muzzle, so always carry those with you.

Make sure you share these safety tips with everyone in the family. If children or elderly relatives walk the dog too, it’s best to be on the same page and warn them of the potential dangers of leaving your puppy unattended in front of the store.

Last but not least, don’t forget about the general rules of safe dog walking: microchip your dog so it can be easily identified when found, write your name and address on the dog’s collar, and be wary of strangers who get too friendly around your dog.

If you have no option but to take the dog shopping, consider taking another family member with you.

Take a friend

When you go shopping, take a friend with you or walk in groups. This way, you can watch each other’s backs and look out for anyone suspicious. Networking with other dog owners is also worth doing, as you can help each other.

Don’t leave your dog unattended in the car.

If driving with your dog, don’t leave them inside the car while you run errands. This is good advice in general because dogs can suffer heatstroke and even die if left unattended in a closed space for a long time, but even more, so these days, when thieves are using every opportunity they can to steal dogs. Thieves don’t see your dog as a soul; they see them as an expensive object. So, for them, a dog left unattended inside the car is the same as a laptop, phone, or jewellery item.

Microchip your dog

If you haven’t already, microchip your dog. First, it’s compulsory: if you don’t microchip your dog by the time they are eight weeks old, you risk a fine of up to £500. And secondly, it’s for their safety. If someone does steal your puppy whilst out walking, at least you can identify them. However, remember that the microchip can be removed and doesn’t offer real-time location tracking; you need to invest in a GPS pet tracker.

Don’t forget to include your phone number and address on the dog’s tag if someone reads it, but leave out the dog’s name. If the thief approaches the dog with kindness and says their name, the dog is likelier to be obedient and not make any noise.

Finally, it is important to ensure that a vet regularly checks your microchip and that your details are up to date.

Jaz up your routes

Taking the same route daily is comfortable for dogs and their owners, but it’s unsafe. Most dog theft cases are planned: the thief sees a person walking their dog every day, on the same route, at the same hour, so they know when to hit. Add a little variety to your walks and alternate the streets occasionally. Whenever possible, walk the dog with a friend or family member.

Take the phone with you but leave the earbuds.

 When on a walk, make sure you have a fully charged mobile phone to phone for help if required. A loud whistle of some kind, such as the  Fox-40 whistle, a bright torch (ideally one that strobes), and you may even consider some red dog spray.

Keep these items easy to hand, such as an outer pocket, so if someone snatches your dog and it is safe to do so, you make lots of noise and make sure you are seen. Dog thieves like an easy target

Don’t let strangers ask too many questions.

Most of us love it when a passerby stops petting our dog while walking, but assuming everyone has good intentions is not safe. If they ask too many questions, such as the dog’s name, age, pedigree, or how long you’ve had them, it’s best not to answer and be on your way. Better yet, politely decline when they ask to pet your dog. This could give them a window of opportunity to run with the puppy.

Keep up-to-date information.

Photos of the dog

Like other valuables, ensure you have plenty of up-to-date photos of your dog. Take them from different angles, along with any unusual markings.

It is also important to take them before and after they have been to the groomers, when they are covered in mud, wet, wearing a coat etc.

These will be required to report your dog lost or stolen to the local dog warden,  the police, Dog Lost and other online resources.

In conclusion, you can’t be too careful when preventing dog theft. However, we hope our Dog Theft Prevention Tips will help.

Pets are a highly prized commodity among thieves because they are difficult to track. They can earn a lot when sold to dogfighting rings or breeding farms. Never assume it is safe because your dog is outside in broad daylight. Trust me when I say it only takes a second, and you’ll regret it for the rest of your life.

Take photos of you with the dog.

In order to help prove the dog is yours, try and take lots of photos with you and the dog. Sitting on the sofa, walking, playing in the garden, etc.

It is important to remember that Finchley Dog Walker does not use cars and arrives in plain clothes. We can also draw curtains and turn lights on during winter to ensure the place looks occupied and help with security.

If your dog gets lost or stolen, our article on what to do if you lose your dog may be of help.

My thanks to Sara Giles for her valuable input as ex Crime prevention officer

Sara’s site can be found at