By Megan Slack
The pandemic has seen an increasing number of us looking towards four-legged friends for support and well-being.
However, the growing demand for dogs has seen a significant rise in dog theft – charity DogLost recently revealed a 170% increase in pet thefts in the past year, with many stolen breeds targeted for resale at extortionate prices.
The problem became worldwide news this week when Lady Gaga revealed her dog walker had been shot during the theft of her two French bulldogs on February 24th in Los Angeles.
But it's not just while out and about that dog theft is occurring – dogs are also being stolen from our homes and gardens. If you’re conscious of improving your home security, we’ve rounded up some essential advice that will help keep your pet safe, both inside your home, and while they play in the garden.
See: Interior designer Emma Sims-Hilditch reveals how to make a home pet friendly – and super stylish
1. Test your alarm
It goes without saying that an alarm is one of the most effective deterrents against all burglaries, and pet theft is included. Though there are ways to protect your home further using smart home security devices, such as a video doorbell. This will allow you to watch over your home from your phone when you are away or out.
For extra security, take a look at a guide from our sister title, Real Homes, who have rounded up the best video doorbells currently on the market.
2. Ensure your pet is microchipped
Microchipping your pet has always been important, but it is now more essential than ever to ensure your dog is protected. If the unthinkable does happen, and your pet is stolen, then a microchip offers the best chance of seeing your pet again.
It is also vital to remember to keep your contact information updated on your vet's database, so if you have recently moved house or switched your phone number, remember to let the appropriate people know. Then, you can rest assured, knowing that you have done everything you can to bring your pet home.
3. Gravel your path or driveway
Look after your pet, and improve the look of your garden in one quick move.
Gravel offers the opportunity to decorate your garden in time for the warmer seasons whilst acting as a noisy deterrent that is likely to lower your chances of theft and keep your dog protected.
See: How to prevent a burglary: 8 key ways to improve home security and deter opportunists
4. Use social media strategically
Joining a local dog owners group on social media will allow you to spread the news of a stolen dog across your local area in a matter of seconds, thereby raising the chances of catching the thief and bringing your dog home.
Social platforms, such as Facebook, also offer a space for neighbors to report any suspicious activity, so you will know to keep a closer watch over your dog when you need to the most.
5. Be cautious with your dog flap
During these notably worrying times, Yale recommends locking your dog flap, especially overnight, when dog theft is more likely to occur.
Some owners may even bring their dog bed upstairs, so their pet can enjoy fresh air from an open-window without facing any additional danger.
6. Contact lost dog websites
On discovering your dog is missing, one of your first points of call should be your local lost dog website, where you can publicize the theft and filter through photos of dogs that have been found nearby. One of the biggest site's in the US is Lost Dog, which advertises missing dogs in every state.
7. Improve your garden fencing
One of the most effective ways of deterring a thief is through garden fencing, as this not only improves your home security but also protects your pet when they are outside. Tightening your fence may involve investing in a high-quality padlock, including a lock that is waterproof so your pet will remain protected into the winter months.
See: Garden fence ideas – secure, but good-looking boundary ideas
8. Never leave your dog unattended
Jumping into your local store and leaving your dog outside could prove very dangerous, especially in this current climate. It is equally as important to follow advice regarding dogs in cars and never leave them alone in your vehicle, as this offers an opportunity for theft and, of course, can quickly be fatal for a dog in hotter weather.
While you may always follow these rules, you should re-emphasize them to any dog walker or pet sitter who spends time with your dog while you are away.
9. Don't showcase your new puppy online
While social media has its benefits, it also comes with its problems, as it offers a platform for thieves to discover any new puppies in the area, and therefore, raises the probability of becoming a target.
Though it is understandably tempting to show off your new puppy, remember to stay alert and maybe settle for sending photos directly to your close family and friends instead of your exhaustive list of followers. You never really know who could target your profile.
10. Choose your groomer based on their security measures
Though you can do everything in your power to make your home theft-proof, you can't control the outside world. You can, however, make a judgment on where is safe enough to send your dog when it comes to their grooming regime.
Remember to look for a groomer with a secure entrance so you can rest assured that your dog is not under any additional threat of theft while away from your love and care.
Megan is a News Writer across Future Plc's Homes titles. She has a background in national newspapers in the UK and has experience in fashion and travel journalism, which she previously practised whilst living in Paris and New York City. Her adoration for these fashion capitals means she particularly enjoys writing about upcoming styles and trends for Homes & Gardens. Megan also loves discovering vintage pieces in her spare time, meaning her decor is largely influenced by the beauty of the jazz age.
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