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DCSPCA’s Top 7 Tips for Preventing Lost Dogs

It’s a big scary world out there. Here’s how to keep your dog safe.

For those of us with dogs, one of our greatest fears is losing our fur babies. They might squeeze out a house or car door before we’re ready, escape a fenced-in area, or even be stolen. A huge percentage of dogs who end up at DCSPCA are dogs who were lost. If we can prevent dog loss, not only will we keep the beings we love safely in our lives, but we can reduce the strain on animal shelters.

As scary as the thought of losing a beloved dog is, there are steps we can take to dramatically reduce the risk of losing them (and improve our chances of getting them back). Follow our tips to help keep your furry family members safe.

1. Make sure your dog is microchipped

Microchipping your pet is one of the easiest ways to ensure they make their way back home if they are lost. When found, a shelter or vet can easily scan to check who the dog belongs to. Dogs who are brought to the DCSPCA are always scanned for microchip information. It’s also very important to make sure the microchip information is up to date. If you move, please be sure to update your information at the microchip company’s website on your move date.

You can have your dog microchipped at DCSPCA’s Public Clinic at our shelter in Hyde Park for only $25. Schedule an appointment here.

2. Never leave a dog unattended

Even if you have a securely fenced-in yard, it’s important to never leave your dog unattended. If you’d like to let your pet lounge in the grass or chase a ball, grab a cup of coffee and take a seat. Keep your dog company and keep an eye on them while they enjoy their time in the sun. Whatever you do, do not simply open the door and let them out. Dogs are often stolen from yards for use in dog fighting or exploited for reward money. There’s also always a possibility that a dog will escape from a fenced-in yard, no matter how secure you think it is. When it comes to dogs and fences–where there’s a will, there’s a way. And as we dog-lovers know, dogs can have very strong wills.

Especially vulnerable are invisible fences that rely on a small electric shock to deter dogs from running away. Not only will many dogs gladly take a shock in exchange for their freedom, but in the event that your dog does escape, they will not be able to return to the safety of your yard. Additionally, predators can enter the area, and your pet will not be able to escape. There are myriad reasons to eschew an invisible fence and there is not one good reason to install one.

Just as we shouldn’t leave our dogs unattended in yards, we should never leave them unattended and tied up outside of a store or cafe. Leaving a dog tied to a post outside even for a few minutes makes them vulnerable to being stolen.

3. Spay / neuter your dog

As soon as your dog is old enough, make sure to spay / neuter them. There are so many reasons to have this important procedure done, but one of them is because an unspayed or unneutered dog will go in search of a romantic partner. Not only will they seek a mate, but they will use all of their wit and charm to escape your house in ways you never imagined, and they will run fast and far away. An unspayed or unneutered dog’s drive to find a mate will motivate them to use all of their strength to get away from you, and they will not care that they are leaving their safe and loving home behind. So many of the dogs who come to the DCSPCA as strays are unspayed and unneutered, and were presumably lost because they went in search of a romantic partner.

If you are concerned about the expense of the procedure, DCSPCA offers affordable spay / neuter services at our Public Clinic, which is held here at our facility in Hyde Park. Find out more here.

4. Purchase a GPS tracking device for your dog’s collar

A GPS device for your dog is relatively inexpensive, harmless, and can help you find your dog in the event that they do get away from you. These small, lightweight tracking devices let you know where your dog is when you can’t see them. Whether your dog escapes into a forest, city streets, or someone else’s yard, by using an app the tracker will let you know where to find your fur baby. Just remember to charge the GPS regularly to keep it functioning. Some available products include: Link GPS, Cube GPS, and Whistle GPS.

5. Use a proper collar or harness

If you’re not sure whether your dog needs a harness or a collar, or what kind of collar, please ask a professional. A motivated, scared, or excited dog will slip right out of the wrong kind of equipment and will be out of reach in a fraction of a second. Trainers are available to consult about what equipment will best suit your dog’s needs. If you are unable to afford a trainer, our staff is available to advise Dutchess County residents on what collar or harness will suit your dog best. Please call (845) 452-7722 ext. 420 or email with your questions.

6. Prepare your pet for major changes in your household

Having renovations done? Expecting houseguests? Moving? These major changes in the home can be extremely stressful for dogs, and they may choose to get away from the source of their discomfort. Though you won’t be able to talk to your pets about big changes at home, you can work with them to reduce their anxiety.

If major work is being done to your home, please keep your dog in an enclosed space while workers are in the house. This could be a spare bedroom, or in a crate they feel safe in–placed away from the construction. If houseguests are coming, make sure they have a proper introduction, understand your dog’s boundaries, and respect the fact that this is your dog’s home and they are the visitors.

If you’re moving to a new home, make sure that the belongings your dog loves–their blanket, favorite toys, crate–are all placed immediately in a space with them upon arrival. We can only imagine what it would be like to move to a new home with no understanding of what is happening. Giving your dog their favorite belongings will grant them familiarity in a new space.

7. Be sure elderly, visually impaired, and hearing impaired dogs have a bell

It is so simple yet so helpful! If your dog is elderly, visually impaired, or hearing impaired, please have them wear a collar with a bell. This will help you locate them if they are lost. A GPS will point to the general area where they are located, but a bell will do even more to determine their exact position.

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