No pet parent would ever want his or her beloved hound to go missing. The mere fact that you don’t know your dog’s current condition, whether it is still alive or not, is worse than losing it to an illness or old age. It is the uncertainty, the lack of closure even, that is most painful for most dog owners. You don’t have to go through the ordeal of a dog gone missing if you adhere to some of these tips.
Train Your Dog
Not many dog owners think that training their dog will help prevent it from going missing, but it does. As a matter of fact, a well-trained dog not only minimizes the risk of it getting lost, it also addresses a lot of the other canine behaviors that may increase its likelihood of running away.
Training it to obey your commands especially staying at your heel whenever you’re walking can help prevent your dog from getting lost. It knows that you are there protecting it and that straying away from you is never a good idea. Teaching it to respond to the ‘stay’ command can help you feel more confident whenever a visitor comes into your home and you’ve got to keep the door open. Dogs that are not trained to ‘stay’ when told to do so can easily bolt out the door. A well-trained dog will stay put simply because it knows it is best for it.
The ‘come’ command also works well especially when you’re outdoors. Training your dog to respond to you when called will help minimize it getting lost. Why? One call of its name and it will stop what it’s doing and will immediately run back towards you.
Build an Escape-proof Perimeter Fence
Just because you’ve trained your dog to respond to your commands doesn’t mean you can feel secure in it not ever getting lost. What if you’re not there and the one at home doesn’t know how to issue the commands or he or she is not trusted by your dog?
This is where building an escape-proof perimeter fence can come in handy. If you already have a fence in your home, you might also want to double-check the integrity of your fences. Make sure there are no sections that are damaged that can serve as exit points for your pet. This is especially true for homes with wooden fences. There are dogs that are notorious for digging. They can dig under the fence and escape through it. The height of the fence also matters. Some dog breeds can jump very high such as Border Collies, Kelpies, and Australian Cattle dogs. Ibizans, Greyhounds, and Borzois can easily clear a 6-foot high fence without ever scaling it.
If you live in a neighborhood where fences are not allowed, you may need to consider installing an electric dog fence instead. However, know that for this to be effective you’d still have to train your dog to never go anywhere near the invisible boundaries of your property.
Get a Collar and a Dog Tag
All dogs should have their own dog collar complete with dog ID tag. This may not prevent your dog from getting lost, but it sure is a nifty way to help establish its identity should your dog lose its way and be found by someone else.
Dog collars also help secure your pet to your leash whenever you go out walking or any other activity outside the home. Choose a dog collar that will not hurt your dog. It should be light enough not to burden your pet having to wear it around its neck. While it is lightweight, it should be tough and durable, too. You don’t want your pet to chew on it to bits.
Dog ID tags should contain not only your dog’s name, but also your contact information such as your name, your phone number, or any other means to contact you in case someone finds your dog. Make sure the attachment of the dog ID tag to the collar is strong enough. You may have a nice-looking, sturdy dog collar, but if the ID tag can be easily detached, then it would be for nothing.
Invest in Dog Tracking Devices
Since the effectiveness of dog collars and ID tags is anchored on the premise that somebody else has found your missing dog and that this person is responsible enough to get in touch with you, a much more viable solution will be to get a dog GPS tracking device. These are small and lightweight electronic devices that communicate with a receiver in your possession. The GPS tracker for dogs is attached or mounted onto the dog’s collar.
There are different types of dog tracking devices. There are those that operate on radio waves much like the walkie-talkies that we use in rural areas. There are also those that rely on Bluetooth technology alone. The downside to these dog tracking devices is that they have very limited range. Bluetooth technology can max out at 800 feet, theoretically. This is for the latest iteration of the technology, the Bluetooth 5.0.
There are dog tracking devices that utilize satellite technology with GPS being the most common, although there are several vendors now that integrate GLONASS technology to provide for better coverage and more precision tracking. Some also use cellular network to help in the tracking of your dog. This is dependent on the network coverage of the cellular service provider. Know that these technologies typically require monthly or annual subscription.
The idea in dog tracking devices is that the system gives you instant feedback on the whereabouts of your dog. Many systems allow for the creation of safe zones for pets. If your dog inadvertently moves out of these predetermined safe zones, the system will automatically alert you about the event. This will give you enough time to go after your dog or begin searching.
Of course, such technology is hardly infallible. Since the device is also attached to your dog’s collar there’s a chance that this can fall off or the entire collar removed from your dog. At least, you can still home in on the location of the device.
Make sure to choose a GPS tracking device that is weatherproof, especially one with excellent waterproofing. You’ll never know where your dog will go. It is best to choose a system that is as tough and durable as any other outdoor gear that you may have.
Make Sure Your Dog is Microchipped
Having your dog microchipped should not be confused with having a dog GPS tracking device. Microchips are injected under your dog’s skin. These very small implants contain a registration number that is provided by the manufacturer of the microchip. It also contains the contact number of the manufacturer.
Microchip manufacturers typically maintain a database of the dogs that have been implanted with their rice grain-sized chips. In the event that your microchipped dog is lost, found by a good Samaritan, and turned over to the animal shelter, an animal welfare organization, or even a vet clinic, the microchip registration information can be read by a special scanner. Employees of the said organization can then get in touch with the microchip manufacturer to find out the owner of the dog. That is why it is very important to keep your contact information updated with the manufacturer of the microchip implanted under your dog’s skin.
Unfortunately, the technology is not foolproof. While microchips can last up to 25 years, you can never discount the possibility that whoever found your dog may not bring it to a facility where the microchip can be scanned. That is why it is always imperative that other methods of identification and pet tracking be adhered to. Ideally, you would want a combination of dog collars, ID tags, GPS tracking, and microchip technology to provide better chances of locating your missing dog.
Again, these are not perfect systems, but they can somehow minimize losing your dog forever.
Always Walk Your Dog on a Leash
Don’t be overconfident whenever you head outdoors with your pet dog. Even a well-trained dog can still bolt from your side if it happens to see or notice something that is far more interesting than walking with you.
The point is for you to always use a leash to walk your dog, especially if you will be going out on certain occasions where there are loud noises that can startle your pet. Be mindful of where you are walking. As much as possible, walk where there are as few distractions as possible that can get the attention of your dog. You can still walk through such paths provided you have a sturdy leash with you.
The type of dog leash you get depends on your dog’s tendency to pull or tug. Some dogs are notorious for tugging or pulling on their leashes. As such, it is always advisable to choose a dog collar or dog harness where the leash attachment is located right in front of the dog’s chest. This will not prevent pulling, but will somehow reduce the tendency of your dog to pull.
It may also be a good idea to choose a leash that has reflective markings or trim. This can always come in handy when walking or going outdoors at night or in low light conditions. It also increases the chance of you seeing your dog in the darkness should it get lost.
Consider Spaying or Neutering Your Dog
One of the reasons why your dog may run away from home is to find a mate. It is but natural for dogs and other animals to mate. If you’re not really into breeding dogs, it is best to have your pet neutered or spayed.
Spaying or neutering dogs not only helps minimize the tendency of such pets to go outside the home and look for a partner. Spaying and neutering can also help address a number of dog behavioral issues such as aggression and other dominant behaviors. It can also temper your dog’s tendency to dig under fences and even scaling or leaping over fences and gates.
This can also help reduce the incidence of cancers in dogs like testicular cancer, cervical tumors, mammary tumors, ovarian cancers, and uterine cancers. Spaying and neutering dogs can also reduce the risk of diabetes, prostate disorders, perineal fistulas, and pyometra.
Keep Your Eye on Your Pet
Even though you have a leash connected to your dog’s collar or it has a complete set of GPS tracking, microchip, and ID tags, it is still imperative that you stay focused on your dog whenever you are outside the house. Supervision is an ongoing process that starts the moment you and your dog step outside your house.
Be aware of your surroundings and pay special attention to things or situations that may arouse the curiosity of your dog. If there are small animals in the area, know that dogs have this innate tendency to chase them because they often see the little critters as prey. Like we said, even a well-trained dog can sometimes forget that it should stay with its human master at all times.
Dogs can run really fast. Some have the stamina to run tens of miles at a time before resting for a few minutes. Given that a dog can run, on average, at 20 to 25 miles per hour, even a minute of oversight on your part is enough to give your dog a headstart. It could very well be half a mile ahead of you and this can only get farther the more you delay. As such, always pay attention to what your dog is doing. Be mindful of everything else so you can somehow anticipate your dog’s next move.
Being proactive definitely makes more sense than simply reacting to your dog’s getting lost. By observing these tips you can feel more confident about keeping your dog safely in your home and by your side. The more of these tips you observe, the better you’ll be in preventing your dog from getting lost.