Preparing for the Worst: How to Prevent Your Dog From Getting Lost and Never Found

It should come as no surprise that July is Lost Pet Prevention Month. With so many dogs ending up in shelters during the Fourth of July holiday, along with camping trips, vacations with pets and hiking excursions in full swing, dogs are bound to become separated from their owners.

While the campaign is relatively young — only popped up about two years ago — companies are getting behind it, including Whistle, a GPS pet tracker.

“Loss is one of the biggest risks to a pet’s health and happiness, with 1 in 3 pets going missing in their lifetime. When we discovered these stats, we were shocked that so many people were not aware of how common pet loss is,” Ben Jacobs, the co-founder and CEO of Whistle, tells This Dog’s Life. “Taking on this topic was a natural fit for our mission, and we wanted to help more pet parents learn about how they can prevent their pet from becoming a statistic.”

It definitely makes sense this company stands behind the campaign. With its GPS technology (along with activity-tracker features), much of Whistle’s mission is giving owner’s peace of mind by keeping tabs on their pup.

Related: 10 Tips to Keep Your Dog Safe During the 4th of July

We met with Jacobs for advice on how to prepare for and prevent your dog getting lost.

1. Invest in your dog’s collar.

With 60 percent of dog and cat owners not having current information on their pet’s collar, according to Harris Poll, an animal can easily end up in a shelter and not be reunited with its owner.

To prevent this from happening, Jacobs recommends having up-to-date information on a collar, including your phone number. Also, make sure the dog’s name is written in bold writing and is readable (in case a Good Samaritan is trying to help catch your lost dog).

Another thing you can do is to incorporate LED lighting, reflective fabric or fluorescent colors into your dog’s collar, so if he happens to escape, he is easily seen.

2. Microchipping is essential.

Microchips are probably one of the best inventions in the dog world. This little chip with your contact information is embedded in a dog and stays with her for life. It is like a permanent collar. Yet, 72 percent of dog and cat owners say the contact information on their pet’s microchip is not current, according to the same Harris Poll.

When you go for your dog’s annual exam have your vet scan your pup to see what information is on the chip. If inaccurate, get the ID number and contact the appropriate chip maker to update it.

3. Be photo ready.

Just in case your dog does escape, make sure you have current and clear photos of your four-legged friend, says Jacobs.

Take some time out of your day and snap a few pictures of your pup in great lighting (no flashes please). Get a close-up shot of your dog’s face, along with a long-shot showing your dog’s frame. Also, if your pup has any unusual markings, make sure to document those, too.

Related: Puppy Reunited With Family After Lost in Massive Wildfire

4. Appearances matter.

This seems like a no-brainier but take care of your pet — in both wellness and appearance. This indicates to anyone that may find your dog, that he is a loved pet. Otherwise, if someone comes across a scraggly looking dog, a pup without a collar and an animal that looks in any way neglected (matted, has fleas or in poor health), the person may think the pooch is better off without its previous owner and may be less likely to turn him over to a shelter or vet.

5. Consider training.

If your dog is known to sneak away from you, flee when she gets scared or has her nose to the ground tracking a smell, think about hiring a dog trainer.

Utilize positive-reinforcement tactics to teach your dog to break her thought process when she may be thinking of ditching you.

6. Build a fence.

If your dog is a known escape artist, keep him safe and secure by building a fence. This not only provides you peace of mind but also allows your dog the opportunity to explore the confines of his backyard without encountering any predators (hopefully), cars or people who may harm him.

While nothing is a 100 percent safeguard, these tips should provide some guidance for helping owners keep their four-legged buddy part of the family.

Related: Watch: Owner and Dog Reunited After Stolen During Home Invasion

Image via Flickr/Eugene Peretz

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