Safe walkies: Eight ways to reduce the chances of dog thieves targeting you on walks

safe walkies
Margaret Davies

Dog theft from people out on walks is risky for thieves and so not as common as other types of dog theft; but this also means that thieves that do perpetrate thefts from dog walkers usually mean business and will often be very determined.

This article will tell you eight ways to reduce the chances of dog thieves targeting you and your dog on walks. Read on to learn more.

Don’t tag yourself on social while walking your dog

Many people tag themselves, check in, or share their location on social media when they’re out somewhere, and this is particularly the case with people with dogs who want to share what their dog is up to, and funny pictures of them playing and having a good time.

However, this is something we really don’t advise doing, particularly at the present time when the level of dog theft in the UK is very high because just as your friends and the people you trust can see where you are and what you’re up to, so may others; including dog thieves.

This is far more likely to be the case if you post on a public platform or your privacy settings are wide open, but can even happen by accident if a friend of yours shared the post, or even mentioned it in passing to someone else.

Arrange to walk with a friend or family member

If you have a friend with a dog or even a friend who just likes to meet up with you and your dog to go for a walk, having two of you present greatly reduces the chances of your being targeted by thieves in many cases.

Obviously if the two of you are concentrating on your conversation and not paying any attention to your dog or dogs,
this isn’t so; but two people watching one or two dogs and being on hand to assist or call for help or generally make life difficult for a thief is far better than one.

Thieves are highly unlikely to even attempt a theft from two people if the dog is close to them or on a lead and they’re both paying peripheral attention to their surroundings; it is just not worth the potential risk, while one person on their own might be an appealing mark.

Even if you can’t always arrange walks with others, try to make any walks you take at unsociable hours or when it is dark walks that you don’t take on your own.

Get to grips with an extending lead

Dogs do need room and freedom to roam and run off the lead, but a compromise between this and being on the lead if they have poor recall, go too far, are in a very open space or you otherwise don’t think they can be let off safely is to get an extending lead.

These give dogs more freedom to move about and keep their own pace (and so are not suitable for use on roads when extended) while still keeping your dog in reach at all times.

Thieves do sometimes seize dogs from their owners directly, and they could easily cut such a lead, so this is not fool proof; but it does mean your dog would not be able to run off and so, perhaps be picked off by a thief.

Get to know other dog walkers

Getting to know the other people in your area and in the walking spots you use is a good idea for the protection of all of you. Firstly this helps you to recognise regular faces and so know if anyone is new or different, and it also means you can build up something of an informal network so news will spread quickly if, say, somebody dodgy-looking has been spotted hanging around or another dog walker has had problems.

Visit familiar spots at unfamiliar times

When you walk your dog in the same spot regularly you get to know it, and the people that use it; this helps you to spot immediately if something is amiss, like a newly cut fence, someone out of place, or someone acting oddly.

There is merit then to walking in places you know, but also, merit to visiting them at different times of day, as failing to follow a reliable routine for dog walks makes life much harder for would-be thieves.

Know where you are

Imagine if you had concerns about someone around you and wanted to alert someone in case a problem arose, or you even wanted someone to come out and meet you or take you home; or worse, if someone did try to take your dog or even succeeded; if you didn’t know where you were and how to tell someone else, things can get very difficult.

Even if you know a route like the back of your hand and could get to and from it blindfold, do you know what it is called or how to describe it? What if you needed to give a location to the emergency services?

Collate this information for the places you walk so it is to hand in an emergency, and download the What Three Words app, which is also used by the emergency services, and which allows you to identify and share your location instantly.

Teach your dog not to approach strangers

It is good practice to teach your dog not to run up to or jump at strangers because this is bad manners, but also good from a security perspective to teach your dog not to approach other people anyway (even if they call your dog) until you give them a cue or the ok. This is easier to do when your dog is young, but worth working on for dogs of any age.

If something feels wrong it probably is

Finally, don’t ignore your instincts, nor write off those little alarms and warnings that can tell us that something is wrong. If something feels off, even if you’re not sure what, pay it attention and act on it. Whether you suddenly find that several of the lights in the park in one area are out (why might this be?) or that someone appears to be say, talking on their phone but the screen doesn’t look like it is in use, don’t gloss over these things, as they might be warnings something is wrong.

(Article source: Pets 4 Homes)

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