7 Ways To Prevent Your Pet From Getting Lost
By Andrea Quarracino | October 26, 2021
It’s often said that when it comes to our health, prevention is the best medicine, and the same is true for ensuring that our pets stay safe and don’t go missing.
Why Do Dogs Get Lost?
Some pets are natural escape artists. If you have a pet who likes to roam or has a pattern of getting out of the house, try to determine their exit point and secure it.
"One in three pets on average will become lost in their lifetime," says Gina Knepp, National Shelter Engagement Director at Michelson Found Animals. "Most people say, 'That will never happen to me,' but if that were the case, our animal shelters would be empty. Bad things can happen to good dogs and cats."
How Can I Keep My Dog or Cat From Getting Lost Again?
Start by taking a look at your environment. Does your fenced yard have a place where a pet can wriggle out? Take a careful look and try to keep an eye on your pet as well — they might lead you to their secret escape route.
“If a pet keeps getting out and going to the shelter, eventually the pet parent is going to be frustrated and can rack up a hefty bill with redemption fees,” says Amy-Jo Sites, director for Fort Wayne Animal Care & Control. “That’s why it’s important to address these issues from the get-go.”
She says that shelter staff can help pet parents by giving them tips on walking their fence line to see where their dog is getting loose or encouraging families to work with animal trainers to address behavioral issues. "It's important that the whole family, children included, are involved in the training process to get a plan together to keep their pet at home."
Here are our 7 tips for keeping your pet at home:
1. Teach and Train Your Pack
Working with a certified dog trainer or cat behaviorist is an investment in teaching every member of your family — two-legged and four — how to stay safe. Your pet can learn fundamental commands to improve their recall and stop them if they start to bolt, and you and your family can learn how to effectively communicate with your pet.
If your dog or cat tends to dart out the door, working with a professional trainer can help them learn to curb that instinct and can help you understand what steps you need to take to better secure your home. Beyond basic obedience, regular training can help keep your pet engaged and stimulated at home.
2. Check Your Pet’s Accessories
Some dogs can pull their heads out of a traditional leash and collar, potentially putting them in danger. Try a martingale collar to stop leash escape artists in their tracks. To keep cats safe on an outdoor adventure, try walking them using a leash and harness. Make sure to choose one that fits securely and doesn't allow your cat to wiggle out.
Once you've selected an appropriate collar or harness for your pet, complete their look with an ID and rabies tag. According to the Wisconsin Humane Society, animals that go missing with their tags on are more likely to go home without ever needing to enter a shelter.
3. Keep Indoor Cats Securely Inside
Unless they're wearing a harness and ready to explore with you, it's vital to make sure indoor-only cats remain inside your home. Check to ensure your window screens are secure and keep outdoor access doors closed. If you want to provide a taste of the outdoors inside, consider investing in some indoor cat trees and furniture to encourage exploration at home.
4. Keep Your Dog on a Leash
You'll want to keep your dog securely on a leash whenever you're outside of your home or a fully-enclosed area. It's important to teach your dog a strong recall command, but even the most obedient dog can be tempted to chase an animal when they're exploring off-leash and your dog may get lost in the process.
5. Supervise Pets When They’re Outdoors
This includes the aforementioned enclosed areas as well. While a fenced yard is an excellent step to ensuring that your dog or cat stays safe, a surprise hole or an open gate can give your dog a chance to go exploring by themselves, and cats can scale even the tallest fence in a flash.
6. Keep Pets Safe During Events
Outside of everyday pet safety measures, remember that significant events — whether a celebration, a holiday, or a severe weather event — can spell trouble for your pet. For example, many pets go missing around July 4th, related to fear of loud fireworks or because guests accidentally leave a gate or door open during a gathering.
According to Mark Sloat, program manager at Austin Animal Center, many pets become lost not because of loud noises, but because of the accidental behavior of partygoers. To prevent your pet from getting lost during a barbecue, celebration, or a loud weather event, create a safe, quiet space for your pet at home and make sure they are secure in the area for the duration of the event.
7. Microchip Your Cat and Dog
While microchipping your pet can't prevent them from getting lost, it can help them get back home quickly if they go missing. Beyond getting your pet microchipped, make sure you also keep your pet's chip registration up to date if you move or change phone numbers.
If your lost dog or lost cat winds up at an animal shelter, getting their microchip scanned can put you a mere phone call away from reuniting with your cat or dog. And be sure to file a lost pet report on Petco Love Lost. Our database connects found pets with lost pet reports nationwide and can help match you with the person who finds your best friend. You can also search the database by microchip ID.
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