Once again we are seeing an increase in lost pets. Facebook postings are there every day. As a pet parent and dog trainer I am distressed.
This is not to say that accidents don’t happen – of course they do. However, over a lifetime of owning pets, what would you consider the “norm” of having a lost dog, meaning an escape, not stolen? “Stolen” is another category, based mostly upon having a dog or cat unsupervised on your property.
But dogs that escape from their house or yard multiple times, I just don’t get! Owners seem to be in denial about their responsibility. Part of that is teaching children safety measures and taking increased precautions.
For instance, if you know your dog is prone to dig under or jump over a fence, why is the dog left unsupervised around the fence?
So how do we reduce the number of these potentially disastrous situations?
Teach your family not to open outside doors unless the pet is secured. This could include a gated area, crate or another room with a door.
Design a barrier, if possible, that bars access to the door, with a gate that people can go through but the pet cannot.
In some cases the barrier can be an indoor version of electronic fence (which is reasonably priced on the internet). The pet wears an electronic collar that is activated as they near a restricted area. It keeps most pets away from doors.
Even if your pets are mostly reliable outside off leash in a non-fenced area, remember they are animals and will often be distracted by prey. In general they should not be outside without a fence or electronic fence or electronic collar, or on a leash or long tether line. Loose animals should not be acceptable to any caring pet parent.
Losing a pet by accident can happen. The biggest problem is an owner’s ego thinking their dog can be off leash and can be trusted to stay with them 100% of the time.
Train your dog! The Stay and Come command can be trained by your family or any local trainer.
Invest in a GPS type tracking device. There are several on the market. Check out tryfi.com for the latest. Be aware that some have monthly monitoring fees. This is a sound investment but is not foolproof since some pets can lose their collars along with the device. But if tracked quickly it could be a lifesaver.
Some pets are never found. Whether stolen or lost, run over by cars, taken by alligators, it is a nightmare for families as well as the pet.
To be honest some are taken to be sold or used in fighting dog rings. Post on social media such as Facebook, at vet’s offices and shelters so the community can help.
But for the most part it shouldn’t happen in the first place. This is a solvable problem – let’s fix it!
Abby Bird is owner of Alphadog Training Academy. AlphadogTrainingAcademy@gmail.com