In the second of two articles, local dog trainers Colin Spence and Sarah McLeod-Cerezo discuss how you can reduce the chance of your dog being stolen, an increasing problem yet to become a specific offence
There has been a huge upsurge in the demand for puppies and dogs due to more people being at home and seeking companionship during the pandemic. And dogs are being stolen to meet this demand. Here are some things you can do to try and reduce the chances of having your dog stolen when out on a walk.
From a dog behavioural perspective, dogs don’t need to be walked daily so long as they have sufficient mental enrichment; and total rest days are to be encouraged. So, if you’re anxious, don’t feel pressured to take them out every day. And you don’t necessarily need to ask those with dogs to go for a walk with you; in accordance with current restrictions, groups of up to six – or any size from two households – can meet outdoors. Start and end your walk at your home with your companions having ensured you and your dog are back safely.
Ensure the person taking the dog out is responsible enough to cope with any eventuality that may occur, such as being approached by a stranger and having the confidence to say no to any unwanted attention. If you have a small dog, pick them up if you are not comfortable, or if the dog is larger, get close to them. If leaving a gated park, leave it on your own rather than with someone walking behind you. Take a step back and let the person pass. Continue to be visually observant on your way home.
We often think of the messaging about not leaving dogs in cars is due to hot weather, but it is equally appropriate advice relating to dog theft, not to mention never leaving a dog unattended outside a shop or public venue.
If you have been approached or have any suspicions, call the police immediately, reporting the date, time, location, outfit and description of the suspicious person. Also give this information to your local dog warden. It is not creating a fuss, it is informing the correct people, so suitable measures can be taken. If it is safe to do so and you will still have complete control of your dog, take a photograph of the car or person concerned. Never put yourself in harm’s way.
If your dog is taken, having called the police, follow the same advice as if your dog were lost. Contact the organisation Dog Lost (doglost.co.uk), put posters up locally, inform the local vets, contact the microchip company and post on social media.
If you do not feel confident your dog will return to you immediately when called, research safe, secure, privately hired local enclosed dog fields in which to let your dog off the lead, and seek out a training service to help you build your dog’s skills in these areas.
To sign the petition to make dog theft a specific crime, visit wnstd.com/dogtheft
For more information on Colin’s K9 Training Services, call 07931 460 451