How to keep your pet safe against dognapping

6 minute read

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Dognapping is every dog-owner’s worst nightmare. So, just as we would protect our home, there are things we can do to keep our pets safe too...

  • Certain breeds of dog are at a higher risk of being stolen but any dog can be targeted
  • The pandemic is a key reason for the rise in dognapping as demand for pets has grown
  • There are several ways you can reduce your risk and keep your dogs safe

Let's do everything we can to keep our pets safe

With dognapping on the rise across the UK, we’re going to take a look some of the risks that owners face and how you can prepare  for the worst-case scenario.

Why is dognapping on the rise?

Dog theft has risen considerably over the last year, with research estimating a 250% increase in dognapping . One of the reasons for this sharp increase is the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns. 

With more people working from home, many have seen it as the perfect opportunity to add a dog to the family. This increase in demand has seen more people stealing dogs to sell on.

While dog owners are more wary when out on walks with their dogs, Dogs Trust says the home and garden are the common locations for dognapping . The dog charity is urging owners to not leave their pets alone in public locations, but you should also be careful in your garden too.

If, for example, your garden backs onto an area people have access to, they may hear your dog barking and attempt to steal it. 

Ultimately dogs are stolen for two reasons:

Resale value

The internet has made it easy to sell pets quickly and eager owners may not do the research to find out where the dog has come from. If your dog has been stolen, social media can be your friend too as you may be able to locate your dog as the buyer probably had no idea their new pet was stolen.

Breeding restrictions

Legislation has tried to crack down on puppy farms that keep animals in poor conditions so people wanting to make a quick profit from selling animals have had to look at other options, such as dognapping. 

What types of dogs are at risk?

All dogs have some value, but there are some breeds which are more popular than others as they can have higher re-sale price. Below are ten of the most popular dogs which are stolen  each year.
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Cocker Spaniel
Yorkshire Terrier
French Bulldog
Border Collie
Jack Russell

Smaller dogs can be stolen more easily as they are quicker to pick and run away with . Female dogs are thought to be more valuable as they can be used for breeding litters. Or if they’re already pregnant, they will sell her puppies and see if they can breed any more.

However, you should look to protect any dog you have, regardless of the breed or sex. All dogs have a value to someone, so it’s best to be careful whether you’re looking to buy a pet or want to look after yours. 

How can a thief steal your dog? 

Thieves operate differently, from some walking up to you while you’re out with your dog, to attempting to break into your home to steal them. There are two types of thieves: opportunists who see a dog on its own and take advantage of the situation, and those who are more organised and target specific breeds or locations, such as dog parks. 

Popular dognapping situations

From your garden
If your garden is near a path or road, people will easily know if you have a dog if they bark. If you have a low fence, thieves will also be able to see when it’s alone.

From your car
Leaving a dog locked in a car can be dangerous for their health but also means dognappers can quickly and easily take your dog. 

Out on a walk
If your dog is off lead and runs out of sight, thieves can entice them over and take them without drawing attention to themselves.

Posing as a dogsitter or walker
Thieves can pretend to be someone you can trust, such as a dogsitter, walker or kennel owner. Always check review and that they have insurance to ensure you’re leaving your pet in good hands.

Beware of people watching your dog or following you. You should also avoid answering any questions that seem odd. It’s natural for someone to ask your pet’s name and age, but if they ask questions such as “have they been spayed”, this is a red flag. 

Tips for keeping your dogs safe

We want to hope our dog is safe when we take them for a walk or let them enjoy some time in the garden, but sadly there is a risk of them being stolen. 

Below are some ways you can keep your dog safe:

Keep microchip information up to date

By law, all dogs and puppies need to be registered and microchipped by eight weeks. The chip is assigned a number and your contact details so if your dog goes missing or is stolen, the chip can be scanned, and you can be contacted.

Take plenty of photographs together

This shows clear ownership if needed and also gives you an up-to-date image if they do get stolen or go missing.

Don’t leave them alone

Don’t leave them tied up outside of a shop or in the car even if you won’t be long, it only takes a few seconds for thieves to act.

Keep them in view in the garden

Don’t leave your dog unsupervised in your garden, especially if you can’t lock your gate or people could easily jump over a fence.

Lock the gate

Have a lock at the top and bottom of the gate to make entering more difficult.

Vary your walks

Avoid taking the same route at the same time of day. Thieves will soon notice and you could become a target. 

Take out pet insurance

As well as helping with veterinary bills, pet insurance can also help offer a reward for the safe return of your pet. Take a look at LV=’s range of pet insurance policies.

Although on the rise, dognapping is still relatively uncommon but by taking these preventative measures and knowing what to look out for, you can keep you and your precious pup as safe as possible.