Like people, some dogs are simply born travelers, ready to roam at any opportunity. If you own this type of dog, breeds which usually tend to be larger, more confident animals, teaching them the value of boundaries at a very early age is essential to keeping your furry friends safe and well-protected.
However, when the opportunity presents itself, your dog may prove himself an excellent escape artist. Although you’ve taken precautions, such as building fences, installing gates, giving your pet a GPS tracking collar, and only letting him run off-leash in a confined area, things can still go awry. Even if you live in a rural area where your dog has seemingly unlimited room to run, he may be more interested in defeating the boundaries you’ve established than a romp around the land behind your home.
Some dogs escape by digging and burrowing under a gate or fence. Others are accomplished jumpers and climbers, able to get over a gate or fence you’d struggle to conquer. Others are a clever sort, learning how to undo latches, turn door handles, and bend wire to create a hole large enough for the animal to squeeze through. If your dog has a wandering spirit, one thing is for certain: his safety, and perhaps his life, depends on your ability to adequately protect him.
In addition to securing his surroundings, you need to make certain that all precautions are taken in order to more easily recover your furry friend, should he wander off. Like all pets, your restless pooch should receive all his immunizations and be protected from fleas, ticks, and other parasites. He should also be identified with tags on his collar that are constructed out of engraved metal, and designed to stand up to the test of time. These tags should include the dog’s name, a contact number for you, and any allergies or medical conditions. If you have a breed of dog that others may judge to be aggressive, or is naturally distrustful, you should have a special tag for him that says “I’m friendly!” or “Loveable But Lost”. That way, any would-be rescuer is more likely to take action, than to walk away and call animal control.
Pet Hub makes it easier to reunite owners with lost pets, using a special sort of tag that comes with a unique bar code, linked to your pet’s profile page on the site, sort of like Facebook for pets! There, you can post a picture of you and your pet, describe physical or personality-related features that make your pet unique, and if your pet gets lost, put up an alert that allows your contact information to be seen by anyone who has access to the barcode on your pet’s tag. Most importantly, no special device is needed to access this information; any computer or mobile device will do.
Of course, all these helpful tags are no substitute for microchipping, a process that saves millions of lost pets from unfortunate euthanization each year. When an animal is brought in to a shelter, pound, veterinarian’s office, or animal emergency clinic, the first thing that’s done is to scan for a microchip. This almost invisible chip allows your dog to “communicate”, giving a medical history, and information on how to get in touch with his owners or his veterinarian. Injected through a small needle and causing no more discomfort than a vaccination, microchipping is one of the best things you can ever do for your pet.
Dogs that are not spayed or neutered are more likely to run than those who have been, due to their natural biological instincts. Likewise, a large dog cooped up in an apartment all day is more likely to break free from his leash and run than one who has plenty of outlets for exercise and activity. Dogs don’t run away from home with the intention of never returning, or living life on the road, they simply get bored, fearful, or inclined to follow their natural instincts regarding predatory behavior and reproduction. Unfortunately, too many simply don’t know how to find their way home.
There’s no way to make certain your dog will never be one of the millions that decides to hit the road each year, but you can take certain precautions that make it more difficult for him to escape. In addition, if he does leave home, you can employ many different measures that make it likely he’ll be reunited with you in no time at all.