How to Avoid Losing Your Dog

No one ever plans to lose a beloved dog, but every year millions of dogs do get lost. Tragically, millions never are returned to their owners. Here’s how to avoid losing your dog.


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    Identify your dog with a collar with your phone number, name and address tag at all times.
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    Make phone tags of places your dog stays, such as the neighbor who cares for your dog when you go away. Hanging tags are a visible message to anyone seeing your dog that your lost dog will be easy to reunite with the caring owner.
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    Buy two light colored collars with phone tags, so you can always have one on your dog, even after a bath. If your dog has a thick neck and a little head, she might be able to back out of a regular collar. Use a limited choke collar, also known as a greyhound collar, martingale collar, or premier collar.
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    Use a permanent marker to write your phone numbers on the outside of the collars, in case the tags are lost from the collar.
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    Wrap the tags in clear tape, if the jingling of dog tags is annoying to you. This will also prevent some of the wear on the tags. Check the tags frequently to be certain they are still readable.
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    Put Bitter Apple, Yuck or similar product on the collars if your dogs remove each others collars, and to prevent playing dogs from becoming entangled.
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    Spay or neuter your dog. Hormonal urges will cause even well trained dogs to wander and/or attract other dogs towards your home. Most pets found hit-by-cars and dead along roads were not spayed or neutered. (Females look like they have been nursing and males... well, you know.)
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    Walk your dog on a leash. Stay outside with your dog when she is outside. Dogs cannot understand the dangers of cars, cruel humans, the fact of over burdened shelters and pounds, etc. Don’t let your dog roam. If you let your dog wander the neighborhood, you won’t know when your dog has been “picked up” or wandered into unfamiliar territory and become lost.
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    Provide your dog freedom and exercise AND still keep her safe from becoming lost, being struck by a car, trespassing of other's property, or coming into conflict with humans, other dogs, cats, or wild animals by using a long leash. A $5.00 leash can prevent thousands of dollars in medical expenses, legal fees, advertising, punitive fines, and untold pain and suffering.
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    Go to a hardware store and purchase soft (that feels good in your hands) strong rope. Buy a snap to attach to one end and tie a loop handle in the other end. A 100' leash will be inexpensive and still allow a dog to have a good run, in an open field or park.
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    Exercise your dog physically, emotionally, and mentally by taking walks, hikes or visiting a dog park. A happily tired dog is a good dog that won’t need to “take walks by himself”.
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    Crate train your dog, so it can be safely contained during your absence, when traveling, or when staying with family, friends, at the vet’s or boarding kennel. We never know when we might become incapacitated or unable to personally take care of our pets. Giving your dog the gift of “security when alone” can be a great blessing for everyone if you become unable to care for your dog, even for a short time.
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    Use the best quality crates and fences available. Do not allow your dog to LEARN how to escape over or through flimsy fencing or to knock down gates. Some dogs may become addicted to escaping.
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    Train your dog. A good dog school or an in-home trainer will do wonders for your dog and you. A well-behaved dog is more likely to stay home.
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    Teach your dog the LIFESAVING words “come” and “stay”.
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    Reward your dog when it comes to you, or your catch her, no exceptions!
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    Reward your dog when the neighbor catches the dog, if it has escaped.
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    Never call your dog to you to do something your dog doesn’t like, such as having a bath. Go to your dog, attach a leash on it's collar and lead the dog to do anything with your dog it does not like.
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    Train your dog to “go potty” on command, and while being walked on a leash. Carry tasty treats in your pocket at all times. Reward the dog the moment it is done “going potty.” If your dog likes walks, do not “punish” your dog for going potty by taking the dog back into the house immediately after the potty. Instead, reward your dog with a good walk, the moment after it “goes potty.”
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    Never say to another caregiver, “My dog will stay with you, he doesn’t need a leash,” because a dog can be unpredictable, especially when you are away, or in strange places. Insist that anyone providing care for your dog use a leash at all times, no exceptions!
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    Be especially careful during holidays with fireworks, times of change in family life, and weather extremes: a dog that is normally relaxed may become very stressed by loud noises or distressed when a family member arrives or leaves. Visitors might leave a gate open. A deep snow might enable a dog to climb over a fence that normally would contain the dog. High winds might cause a door to blow open.
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    Talk with your veterinarian about having your dog tattooed and microchipped, for permanent identification. Register your dog with the microchip company, and keep the info handy and updated.
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    Provide your dog with a license as required by law. In some areas, a license provides your dog with additional “rights.”
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    Understand that a well cared for dog usually does not run away but any dog can become lost just as an angry frustrated teenager may run away, but a 2-year-old child can become lost at the park and needs you to immediately work to find them.
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    Leave it inside at all times unless you are walking them or they are playing with someone in the backyard.
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    Bond with your dog. This will help prevent them from running away or getting lost because if your dog is well loved, they'll want to stay by your side all the time and not run away.

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Categories: Dogs | Pet Loss