How to Never Lose Your Dog

By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. March 26, 2018
How to Never Lose Your Dog

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Our dogs give us great comfort and joy, staying by our side during good times and bad. They become an integral part of the family, so losing them can be one of our biggest fears. Unfortunately, the nature of dogs means that getting lost is a possible risk we must accept when adopting them into our homes. This doesn't make it any easy, especially when we think of the hard times of hunger, thirst and confusion which they will inevitably experience if they were to get lost.

This is why any respectful and thoughtful dog owner will use all means available to prevent this from happening. If you have ever wondered how to never lose your dog, then AnimalWised has these 6 essential tips to ensure you can do the best you can to prevent this from happening.

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1. Dog Identification Methods

While there are some unscrupulous people who may be willing to take your dog with no consideration of your feelings, the majority of people will be happy to find a way to return a dog to its family. Finding the right method of identification for your dog should be one of our primary considerations when we bring them into our homes . There are various methods of identifying a dog, but the major ones to consider are:

  • Microchip: microchips for dogs and cats are devices (approximately the size of a grain of rice) implanted under their skin. It is a very important security measure and is mandatory in some countries such as Spain. It must be implanted by a veterinarian and registered in a regional database. This is so that if your dog gets lost, the authorities will be able to find their registry and bring them back home. The information contained in the microchip is a numeric code which is read by a specialized device. This device finds out the basic information of your dog and a veterinarian with access to the database can then cross reference it. We must ensure we inform the vet with whom we registered the dog of any change of address or contact number so that they can keep the data updated.
  • Identification tag: identification tags have become so well known soldiers call their own identification tags ‘dog tags’ as a tongue-in-cheek reference. There are many models made out of various materials, but mainly either metal or plastic. They can come in various shapes, sizes and designs. Usually they contain basic information such as the name of the pet, the name of the owner and a contact phone number and/or address. They are placed on the collar or harness of the dog sot that anyone who comes across the lost dog can contact the owner immediately. Some dog tags will have extra information or even some fun message. There are even more advanced identification systems in the form of QR codes which can be read by smartphones. These allow for more room for information such as their health status or if they need any particular medication. Not everyone will necessarily have a smartphone, so it is best to include some printed on contact information in addition to a QR code.
  • Collar or harness: these accessories can help facilitate identifying our dog more quickly, especially in dog parks where there may be similar dogs of the same species. You can use unique or colorful collars to identify your dog quickly and keep them in your sights. Also, reflective collars with luminous material can mean they are more visible at night. This doesn't just mean they are less likely to get lost, but it can help prevent them from being run over or hit by a car.
How to Never Lose Your Dog - 1. Dog Identification Methods

2. Education and socialization

The socialization stage of a puppy is imperative for its later life behavior. It will determine how well it gets along with both humans and other animals. This socialization stage should take place between 3 and 12 weeks of life. During this time puppies will interact with people in their family, strangers and other dogs. It is important to only interact safely with dogs, meaning ones which are friendly, properly dewormed and fully vaccinated. This is especially so if the puppy has yet to complete their own vaccination schedule. Cats and other pets will need to be introduced to they see them as friendly animals and not prey.

Socialization is also the stage during which the dog will best become accustomed to different external stimuli. These include noises, smells, environmental changes, etc. This means when they are an adult, they will know what is safe to approach and what to stay away from. It will also help with avoiding insecurity in different situations. if this stage is carried out correctly, we should end up with a self-confident dog which enjoys our company. This, in turn, strengthens the human and dog bond meaning it is less likely they will run away to get lost. Building trust with our puppies is important.

Additionally, learning basic commands is helpful in never losing your dog. If they are distracted or disorientated and don't know where to go, heeding our calls means they can come back to safety and not run away. It is a good idea to start with the command of ‘look’. This helps the dog keep their attention on us and gives us the opportunity to teach more commands. Other very important commands are to ‘come’ and ‘quiet’. This is needed to help our dog return when they are in danger of getting lost and to stay calm in stressful situations. It will also help them to exercise self-control in environments with a lot of distraction. It will also help them to stay and not get lost even when there is opportunity such as with an open house door.

To stop a dog from getting lost, working on their own self-control and teaching them to be calm and stable in hectic environments is important. We don't want to generate anxiety or get them excited so they may run off. We do this by ensuring their physical, psychological and emotional needs are well met. If you don't do this in conjunction with educating the dog, then it can negatively affect their training. If you can't achieve these goals yourself, then you will need to go to a qualified professional trainer to help you. This may be particularly the case if you have a naturally hyperactive dog.

3. Household containment

If we have a garden, terrace or patio, it can seem cruel to not allow our dogs to enjoy some of the outdoor experiences we may take for granted. Installing a perimeter fence made of resistant material and of a height higher than that which the dog can jump. It is also advisable to have a trench dug at the bottom or secure it with a sold concrete bottom. The reason for this is because dogs are great diggers when they want to be and you don't want them slipping underneath. We also need to keep up maintenance and repair any damages as soon as they appear. Some dogs can make short work of exploiting a weakness in a fence and run away.

Inside the house, it is imperative we keep our doors and windows in good shape. We also need to ensure the dog is comfortable in their home so that they have more reason to never get lost by running away. We can do this by providing lots of affection in the house as well as providing comfort and ensuring their needs are met. If your dog tries to escape every time the door opens, it is a sign they are not relaxed at home or are not getting enough exercise.

How to Never Lose Your Dog - 3. Household containment

4. Containment outside the home

When outside of the home, we need to ensure there is little chance they can run off so you never lose your dog. The two main places outside of the home you need to keep your dog secure are:

  • On the street: this includes dog parks, regular parks and anywhere your dog has the opportunity to get lost. A collar or harness attached to a leash needs to be of the highest quality and appropriate for the size and breed of your dog. In urban areas it is always advisable to keep them on a leash when going for a walk. Even well-behaved dogs can make a mistake and run out into traffic or go somewhere they shouldn't. Loud noises and distractions can also cause them to become equally startled. In rural areas or open spaces you can consider letting your dog off the leash, but only if they have follow their commands and have proven themselves to be trustworthy around the presence of other people and dogs. Dog parks are a good way to let your dog off the leash and see how they behave with this little bit of freedom.
  • In the car: it is very important you have the correct restraint and protection systems for your dog are of top quality. This is not only to prevent a dog from getting lost, but also so they do not upset the driver during a journey. You should accustom a dog from a young age to travel by car so they are calm during the journey. Even if you don't intend to drive them often, they may need to be taken to the vet or in some unforeseen circumstance and you don't want erratic behavior. In terms of never losing a dog, you need to ensure when you open the trunk or car door they do not run away.

5. Sterilization

Beyond the many health benefits sterilization can offer, it is has a bearing on how to never lose a dog. Even an otherwise calm dog which has been trained well can find it near impossible to control their animal instincts when they smell a female dog in heat. An unsterilized male dog will likely run and try to mate with a female, perhaps even running so far it will get lost. Also, the general hormonal changes in an unsterilized dog can make it difficult to control.

The same goes for a female dog. If they are unsterilized and then go into their heat cycle, they will make mating a priority. This can lead to them getting lost, especially if they are not leashed in public. Even if they do not get lost, an unwanted litter of puppies can result which you may not have the resources to care for.

How to Never Lose Your Dog - 5. Sterilization

6. Other ways to prevent a dog getting lost

While microchips are one piece of relatively new technology introduced to cat run away dogs, they are not the only advanced system which can help. Devices with GPS technology can be attached to the dog's collar and then tracked from your mobile phone or smart device. This is relatively inexpensive technology and can really help in never having to lose a dog, because you always know where it is. We can even set up security perimeters so that any time a dog goes past it, your phone sends an alert and you can go check on them.

Finally, collars and harnesses with LED lights can also be useful. This is especially if you want to be able to ensure your dog doesn't run away at night.

If you want to read similar articles to How to Never Lose Your Dog, we recommend you visit our Facts about the animal kingdom category.

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