One of a dog parent’s biggest fears will always be losing their pet. Losing a pet is like losing any loved one, and it’s an experience no one should ever have to go through. July is National Lost Pet Prevention Month and serves as an important reminder to make sure our pets stay safe and don’t get lost.
Even if you believe you’re the safest pet parent in the world, it’s always smart to make sure you have a checklist to prevent your pet from getting lost, just in case.
In honor of National Lost Pet Prevention Month, here are ten vital tips to ensure you won’t lose your precious pup.
1. Microchip Your Dog
Thanks to the technology of microchips, many people have been reunited with their lost dogs.
If your dog loses their collar and ends up lost, a vet or shelter can scan for the microchip, which will have their name, your contact information, and your primary vet or shelter information.
The process for getting a microchip implanted is completely painless, and your dog will have no idea it’s there. It’s only about the size of a grain of rice. A vet will inject the microchip under your dog’s skin and it will stay there for his or her entire life.
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It’s also important because if someone else claims your dog, you can legally prove the dog is yours by looking at the microchip.
2. Get A Collar With Dog ID Tags
While it may seem obvious, some people forget how extremely vital it is for your dog to not only have a secure collar, but also have an ID tag.
Loose collars can fall off and, over time, become torn and wear down. It’s important that you check your dog’s collar to make sure it’s still in proper shape.
Also, you don’t want to choke your dog, so be sure to find an even balance between secure and comfortable.
ID tags make it very easy for someone to identify your dog and get your contact information immediately on sight. You can buy custom tags online or make them at your local pet store for an affordable price.
You can also write your phone number on the collar, itself, as a precaution.
3. Teach ‘Come’ And ‘Stay’
Two essential commands your dog must know are “come” and “stay.” With these two commands, the probability of your dog getting lost is less likely.
Whether you’re taking your dog for a walk, spending time at the park, or going for a drive, there is a chance your dog could see something they find exciting or interesting and take off.
If your dog knows these commands and recognizes you as their leader, they’ll be more likely to stop. Knowing these commands can not only keep your dog from getting lost, but it could even save your dog’s life. For example, you could end up stopping them from running into a street of cars.
It’s important to teach your dogs these commands starting from when they’re puppies, if possible. Older dogs can still learn the commands, too. However, the earlier training begins, the better.
4. Keep Your Dog On A Leash
If you own a dog, that means you need to own a dog leash. Having a leash is a fundamental part of having a dog.
There’s a variety of styles of leashes for different types of dogs and different environments, so make sure you find the right fit for both you and your dog. Make sure the leash you buy is recommended for your dog’s weight.
If you’re going for a walk in the park where other dogs might be present, you should have a shorter leash with more control so you can regulate your dog with more ease if, for example, they try to go after another dog.
5. Secure Your Yard And Home
One of the most common ways a dog gets lost is when they escape their yard. There have been plenty of times when people found dogs wandering their neighborhood and mistaken them for strays, when really they accidentally just got out of their own property.
If you let your dog in the yard, make sure you’ve double checked the fencing around your property. You want the right height fence depending on the size of your dog so they can’t jump over it.
Even if they can’t jump the fence, your dog still might be able to dig their way out. A good way to prevent this is with rocks or chicken wire lining the bottom of the fence.
Also, to prevent your dog from squeezing through the fence, check for any lose panels that your dog can fit through.
6. Make Sure To Spay Or Neuter
Not only is spaying and neutering important to prevent overpopulation and keep more dogs from ending up in shelters, but it’s also key to keeping your pets from wandering off and getting lost.
When male dogs aren’t neutered, they have a higher tendency to seek out females because of natural sexual behavior. This means that an un-neutered dog is more likely to wander off from your home and get lost trying to seek out female dogs, leading to more risk of getting hit by cars.
Neutering your dog takes away this instinct, making your dog calmer and more reliable, preventing further behavioral problems.
Female dogs will also benefit from the spaying surgery, as fewer males will attempt to mate with them. Aggressive males can cause a female dog to bolt, so it’s best to remove that temptation.
7. Pay Attention
The simple-yet-vital act of paying attention to your dog is the easiest way to prevent your dog from getting lost.
It’s important that, wherever you take your dog, you pay attention to them and their surroundings, especially in unfamiliar locations. Dangers and distractions can lead to accidents, dropped leashes, and dogs running off.
Also, be sure to never leave your dogs tied to bike racks, parking meters, or fences while you go into a store. Your dog could easily slip out of their collar and get lost or stolen.
Your dogs should always be in eyesight of you. Even when your dog goes in your own backyard, you should know exactly where they are.
You wouldn’t leave your child unsupervised, so why should you leave your dog unsupervised?
8. Be Safe In The Car
An easy time for dogs to escape is when they’re in the car. Your dog could easily run off when you open the car door. Some dogs could even escape if you open the window too far. Be aware of your dog’s typical behavior and figure out what works best.
If your dog has a tendency to stick their whole body out the window, be sure to keep the window closed far enough so their body can’t fit through.
Similarly, if your dog gets easily excited when you open the door, make sure you leave their leash on. That way you can prevent the problem before it even happens.
Seat belts are also helpful in making sure your dog is safe and secure. There are several dog seat belts on the market, but be sure to check that they have been safety tested, and rely on online reviews before you make a decision. Your vet can help.
Finally, do not leave your dog alone in the car under any circumstance. Not only could your dog could die from heat stroke on a hot day, but someone could actually break into your car just to steal your dog.
9. Keep Their Documentation Easily Available
You should have all of your dog’s documents and papers organized in one area with easy access. If your dog were to get lost, you’d quicken the process of finding them by having all your information together.
Proof of ownership such as vet documents, shelter information, photos, vaccination records, and more can make it easier to not only prove your dog is yours, but also make it easier for those who might have found your dog, such as shelters or rescue groups.
You should keep handy your local shelter’s address and phone number along with a recent photo so you can put up flyers with what your dog looks like at the current moment.
10. Practice Inside Safety
It’s perfectly healthy and normal to let your dog go in the yard for outside time, to use the bathroom, and to play. But when you’re not home, they should be indoors.
It’s important to make sure you keep your dog inside when you’re not home so your dog doesn’t get loose by mistake. A common problem is people thinking dogs are strays when really they’ve just escaped from their house and can’t get back inside because no one is home.
Also, if you have small dogs, be extra aware, especially at night, because of predators like coyotes, hawks, and mountain lions.
Lastly, don’t leave dogs outside alone while you’re sleeping. When it’s time for bed, everyone should come inside.
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