Dog theft: How to prevent your customers' dogs being stolen

The theft of a pet is a potential nightmare for owners, but for professional dog walkers, sitters and other professionals there’s the added responsibility of the animal in question belonging to someone else.

Sadly the numbers of dogs being stolen has risen sharply in the last few years, with the Blue Cross reporting a rise of 170% from 2019 and 2020.

With those figures deeply concerning it’s more vital than ever for pet professionals to ensure they protect their clients’ pets from adding to this unfortunate figure.

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Protectivity is one of UK’s leading online providers of Pet Business Insurance, protecting over 14,000 pet care professionals every year. Our policy extends to include dog walking insurance, pet sitting insurance and dog grooming insurance, as well as protection for 11 other pet care professions.

Why are more dogs being stolen?

The disappointing fact is that pets, in particular dogs, have, and will always be stolen. However during the pandemic there has been a rise in dog ownership, and with the standard supply and demand model, with more prospective owners, the price tag goes up.

That rise in potential profit to be made from dog sales means the most unscrupulous sellers are going that extra mile to ensure they have dogs to make money from.

Owners and pet business operators cannot completely take away the risk of falling victim to pet theft, but there are plenty of things they can do.

Here are some of our top tips…

1. Don’t leave dogs unattended

It should come as first nature to dog walkers and owners but leaving dogs unattended in public spaces increases the chance of you falling foul to thieves dramatically.

That includes leaving dogs tied up outside shops or other businesses, inside a parked car or at the park.

The less time a dog is out of your sight, the less chance there is for the dog to be stolen.

2. Ensure your setting is secure

If your business involves keeping dogs on your premises, or even if you are visiting those of your clients, making sure they are secure is hugely important.

We all know dogs can sometimes take off of their own accord, so it’s worth checking that fences and property boundaries will keep even the most inquisitive dog inside.

By keeping your dogs inside, you can also keep potential thieves out.

3. Watch what you post on social media

Social media can be a great place to showcase your business to potential clients but it also comes with potential risks.

Posting your walks, daily activities or generally marketing your business is good, however there’s also the chance it’ll tell potential thieves where and when there’s an opportunity to steal a dog.

If you must post daily about your dog walks, it’s worth mixing things up to avoid a regular routine that can set you up for the risk of dog napping.

4. Ask that your clients’ dogs have good recall

Letting dogs off the lead when out on a walk obviously gives them an opportunity for a good run to burn off some steam, but it’s always worth ensuring they come back when called.

Should they fail to return on demand it increases the chances of them being snatched by thieves.

Whether you train the dogs yourself, or ask the owners to make an effort to teach dogs good recall, it can increase the safety of the pooches in your care.

5. Invest in a dog GPS system

It might seem an extreme investment, but with the value of certain dog breeds in the thousands, the outlay of a dog GPS system might be money well spent.

There are a number of options on the market, starting from around £50, so if you’ve got a lot of different animals in your care it can be a wise investment.

Should they take off, or worse still, be stolen, a tracker will allow you and the owner to see exactly where they go.