Tips to prevent your pet from going missing
It is a risk that is always at in the back of your mind: what if your dog or cat goes missing? This is especially so if you plan to bring your pet to a sitter for home boarding or doggy daycare...you may worry about your furry friend suddenly going on the run. Fortunately, most pets are found and returned to their owner very quickly. And the good news is that you can do a lot to prevent your pet from getting lost in the first place. And if your pet does go missing? We have an action plan ready for you to bring your pet home quickly. Here are our tips for pet owners and pet sitters how to find a lost pet quickly.
Pictures and a description
We think we know our pet like the back of our hand, but if your dog or cat is missing, some doubts may start to arise: was that one black spot on the right or left ear? If your pet is lost, it is important to have a comprehensive, written description of your pet at hand as well as a couple of clear pictures. So, take photos of your pet and write down that description today and keep it with your important documents such as their registration and contact details of your vet. This way, you also have a handy info pack ready for your pet sitter when you have a booking.
Microchip and registration
It's important that your pet is registered and has an up-to-date microchip, especially when you want to bring your pet to a sitter for home dog boarding or doggy daycare.
Has your pet been microchipped? You should receive a certificate with a copy of the number (or you can ask your vet to check the chip number next time your pet is there). Pets that are chipped are far more likely to be safely returned to their home when they get lost. That is why it is important not only to microchip your pet, but also to ensure that the information in the database is still correct. So make sure to update your registration if you move address.
In addition to a microchip, it's a good idea to attach an old-fashioned name tag to your pet's collar. You can order these tags for just a few dollars on the internet. Make sure that the tag contains at least the name of your pet and your contactable phone number. With a simple tag, pets are often reunited with their owners very quickly - even before any authorities need to be notified.
A GPS tracker
A GPS tracker is super handy for notorious runaways. With a GPS tracker you can follow your pet's movements with your smartphone. This is also a great (temporary) measure that offers extra peace of mind if your pet stays with a dog sitter. Next to the tracker itself, keep in mind subscription costs. Read more about GPS trackers here.
With a collar tag, micochip and GPS tracker your pet will be found soon
Preventing your pet from getting lost
It is super important to invest time and energy into training your dog: build a positive relationship between you and your dog and make sure it's always FUN for your dog to come back to you. Even if your dog takes it's time during training, always offer praise with pats and treats when he or she returns. You also might have a 'runner': these are dogs that may have traditionally 'hunted' and might be out of sight for quite some time during an off-leash walk. Don't let a runner dog off-leash unless you are in a very safe area where you have great visibility, such as a safe beach or a fenced dog park. As a dog sitter, it's better to be safe than sorry, so always keep the dog on a leash. As a compromise, you can use a flex line or long line so that the dog has enough freedom of movement.
With regards to cats - it is worth considering keeping your kitty in an enclosed outdoor space rather than letting them wander, or at the very least always bringing them in to be fed at night. This will keep them safe from traffic, predators and prevent them from going missing.
Many pets tend to run away due to stress or changing circumstances. Your dog might be a bit confused when they are in a new environment, for instance if you are boarding them, and your cat might be confused by the new person in their home. That is why it is important to take enough time to introduce new people, like your pet sitter, to your cat or dog. Don't rush things but let your pet get used to your sitter. Let your pet decide when and how fast to approach your sitter - and if you have a dog, have a test walk together beforehand. Read more about meet and greets with a pet sitter here.
Finding a missing dog or cat. What to do?
Report the found animal to local Facebook lost pets groups and the SPCA as quickly as possible. Contact Lost Pet Finders, a website that registers missing and found pets, and alerts the local community and authorities. If you are pet sitting the pet, please report the missing pet to the pet owner as soon as possible. Stay calm but be honest and upfront. The pet owner might give you the necessary information to find the pet quickly. Also, inform neighbors and ask them to look out for the pet.
Please contact us at Pawshake if this happens. Furthermore, make sure that your pet can easily find his or her way back: create a place near your home where you can put some favourite treats. Make sure your cat can enter the house, even at night. Also, make sure that the phone number on the collar and/or registered on the microchip is charged and within signal. Last but not least: stay calm at all times and don't forget that most pets find their way back home. You are not alone! Together we can protect our pets and make sure that we prevent our beloved dogs and cats from getting lost - and if they do, we now know we can find them again quickly.