How to protect your dog against theft

tips to keep your dogs safe from thieves


The idea that your beloved pet might be stolen from you is a horrible one. However, dog theft, unfortunately, is a real concern. Whether you are out walking, popping to the shops, or even in the comfort of your own home or garden, it’s good to be aware of the risks and the things that you can do to lower the chances of this happening.

Statistics from the Missing Pets Bureau report that out of all the animals reported missing, a whopping 38 percent of them have actually been stolen. Of that figure, only 60 percent are reunited with their owners.

Keeping your dog safe

While this may make for distressing reading, the good news is there are lots of easy measures you can take to ensure your pets stay safe.

Why would someone want to steal a dog?

A dog could be stolen for many different reasons, some of these may include:


A thief may try to pass the dog off as their own and sell it to someone else for money.

Ransom or rewards

A dog may be captured and only returned if the owner agrees to pay. Alternatively, a thief may wait until someone has put up a reward notice and then ‘innocently’ return the dog, saying they found it to claim the cash.


A dog may be stolen to be used as bait for dogfighting, which is illegal, but unfortunately still happens.


Some dogs may also be taken to puppy farms and bred to make money from the puppies they produce. Dogs on puppy farms tend to live in deplorable conditions. Pedigree dogs or ‘high-value’ breeds are naturally more attractive to thieves looking to make money, so are particularly high-risk, though any dog type can be vulnerable.

Prevent Dog Theft With These 12 Tips

1. Reconsider leaving your dog tied up outside a shop
Even if you are just popping into the shops for a moment, leaving your dog tied up outside means it is unsupervised and easy prey for dog thieves on the prowl.

2. Don’t leave your dog alone in your vehicle
Leaving a dog inside your vehicle is advised against because it could quickly become too hot. It is also unwise as leaving your dog in your car could also give thieves an easy opportunity to take it.

3. Make sure your pet is microchipped and keep your contact details up to date
It is a legal requirement for puppies over the age of eight weeks to be microchipped. Make sure yours is, and if you move house or change telephone number, keep your details up to date. This means if your dog is recovered, you can be contacted as the owner.

4. Make sure your dog wears a collar and ID tag but don’t put your dog’s name on it
Similarly, your dog must have a collar with an ID tag on it. Don’t put your dog’s name on the collar, though, as this is an extra piece of information that could help someone attract your dog’s attention and lure them away.

5. Have a stock of recent pictures of your pet and notice any markings or unusual features
If your dog does go missing, recent pictures will help if you need to put up posters. Making a note of unusual markings and any distinguishing features will also help when you report the theft to your council and the police.

6. Always research dog sitters and walkers before handing your pet over to them
If you need to board your dog at a kennel or hire a dog sitter or walker for your pet, make sure you do a thorough background check and ask for references too. Make sure members of your household check with you first before handing over your dog to a stranger if you are out. There have been reports of fake dog walkers or groomers arriving to collect a dog when the owner is away from home. A genuine person will understand the need for caution and should not mind waiting while checks are made.

7. Keep your garden secure and fit any gates with a bell to alert you if someone enters
Your garden should be secure, so your pet can’t escape and to make it less appealing for opportunistic thieves to break-in. A bell will also help deter thieves and help you to remain alert to anyone entering your property.

8. Train your dog to come back when called and keep your dog on the lead in unfamiliar areas
Make sure your dog has a good recall before you let it off to ensure it doesn’t get lost. Keeping your dog on the lead in areas you haven’t been to before is also advisable.

9. Be vigilant towards anyone acting suspiciously around your dog
If you notice anyone acting strangely when out with your dog, keep your distance. The same goes for a stranger who seems to be taking an unusual interest in your pet. If you feel uncomfortable, put your dog back on lead and move to an area where there are more people (keeping social distancing) as witnesses may deter a person with bad intent from acting on it.

10. If you lose your dog, report it to the appropriate authority as soon as possible
Alert your local council’s dog warden, and also report the dog theft or dog loss to the police, making sure you receive a crime reference number. It’s also worth researching any community groups and contacting relevant ones to stay alert in your area for sightings of your dog.

11. Vary your dog walking times and routes
Some dog thieves will purposefully note the times owners come out with their pets, and the routes they take, to find the right time to attempt to steal them. You can avoid this by keeping your routine varied when out and about with your four-legged friend.

12. Check your privacy settings
Make sure you are vigilant when it comes to sharing pics of your dogs on social media, and stay alert to unusual friends requests too. This way, you can rest assured you aren’t letting personal information get into unscrupulous hands.

The law around dog theft

At the moment, no clear law covers the theft of an animal, and because most are worth under £500, these crimes are treated as low level. Even with the value of pedigree and desirable and “designer” dog breed mixes running into the thousands, they are rarely treated as a police priority, and it is up to the owner, therefore, to be vigilant and protect their pets themselves.

Petributes cares about your pets!

The team at Petributes understands how much your pet means to you. We know they are treasured, invaluable members of the family, and the idea of losing your pet is unthinkable. By following the tips above you can rest assured that you have minimised the risk of your dog being stolen and can continue to enjoy their fantastic company for many years to come.

When the time comes to say goodbye to your beloved pet, Petributes is here to make sure you can give them a thoughtful, beautiful send-off. Browse our range of stunning urns, keepsakes, and memorials here.

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