In the current Covid climate, dogs are at a premium and unfortunately a major rise in theft of family pets has been reported.
While the numbers are increasing, charity Dogs for Good aims to help owners keep their four-legged friends safe.
The charity has put together a list of advice to help owners and dogs stay together.
Keeping eyes on your dog is still the best thing you can do to keep him or her safe. Using your phone to catch up with calls/emails when youre out and about with your dog is a huge distraction and thieves know that. Keep your phone in your pocket and those four legs in focus.
Garden access. Is your garden secure? Did you lock the gate? Its always worth checking. And as before, keep an eye on your dog when theyre outside.
Dont leave your dog outside shops. Our dogs are so precious and can be taken in a heartbeat. You wouldnt leave your wallet or handbag unattended so dont leave your dog alone.
Tinted car windows. A relatively cheap way to keep whats in your car less visible to prying eyes.
Keep your dog "building side". Where possible, try and keep your dog away from the side of the road when youre out on a walk. Doing so will make it far more difficult for someone to open a car door, take your dog and drive off.
Poor recall remember Fenton? If your dog has poor recall, social walks on the lead around your local area is fine. Give your dog plenty of opportunities to engage with whats important to them sniffing, looking around and suchlike and theyll feel the benefit. You can further add to their enrichment quota by spending time playing some brain games with them at home.
Safer spaces. Scope out some safer, free-run locations where youve got clear sight of your dog. Avoid wooded areas and keep to smaller open spaces where you can see all around you and your dog. You could also research private free-run fields where you can book a slot and safely run your dog.
High-value food rewards. Small pieces of chicken, cheese or whatever your dog finds utterly delicious are a good way to ensure that your dog is motivated to come back to you.
Extendable leads. Used correctly, extendable leads are a good halfway house between a lead walk and a free run. Make sure you give your dog 10 minutes or so at the start of the walk to interact with their environment by opening up the lead so they can shake off the cobwebs and explore safely. If you do this at the beginning of the walk, theyll be happier to walk on a shorter lead for the rest of the walk.
Be less predictable. Try altering your route and, where practical, the time you walk your dog.
Walk with someone else. Even with the current restrictions, you can still take a walk with someone else as long as you keep a safe distance apart.
Photos. Make sure youve got plenty of recent photos of your dog clearly showing identifiable markings.
Microchips. Make sure your dog has been chipped and that you keep any changes to your details updated with the database. Also, because chips can move, its a good idea to ask your vet to scan your dog annually to check where the chip is.
If the unthinkable happens and your dog is taken, remember, you are not alone. There are plenty of online groups and pages offering help, guidance and support.
DogLost is a charity which provides a lost and found service which is free of charge. You should also notify police, dog wardens, vets and local rescue centres.
Visit dogsforgood.org for more information.
134% rise in people looking to give up unwanted animals, says Scottish SPCA
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Keep your dog safely tucked up and away from thieves - JohnOGroat Journal
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