Prevent lost dogs by starting at home
Just about every single week a dog is found or a dog is listed as lost on Next Door in my community. The Denver animal shelter reports that almost 6,000 dogs a year are lost and end up at the shelter. This equals 500 dogs lost per month reported by only one shelter in a city of close to 1 million. I ask, how can this be avoided? How do we prevent so many from getting away? Let’s start at home.
I was petsitting Dexter, when he darted out of the front door, down the steps across the yard and into the middle of the street. I was running as fast as I could right behind him down the middle of the broken yellow lines. He did not run in a straight line, but back and forth crisscrossing the street. An approaching car slowed down, but Dexter suddenly turned into the car. His front leg slipped under the moving rear tire. He barely missed breaking his leg. The leg was sprained and required a vet visit and crate rest.
To prevents this from ever, ever happening to another dog including my own, we installed a self-locking gate with a spring. The spring allows the gate to pop shut behind any human going through it. No dog has ever escaped again.
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What is the problem?
Many of us leave problem-solving to the dog/pet. If the dog doesn’t “usually” runoff, why should I be concerned? Or we say, “he’ll come back, he aways does”. I have then left a being with no decision-making skills to decide to make themselves safe. This is ridiculous. Humans must problem-solve for them.
For example, some show dog groomers say they are always looking at and touching their dogs, in order to detect skin or hair problems. This is good advice for how we should be with finding potential escape routes or other potential hazards. A trash can left untended or a gate or door open can allow dogs to “decide” to run off or eat all the candy bars left in the trash.
A common misconception is pets don’t aways come back on their own. They get lost, stolen, transported to shelters, etc.
Always be looking and solving.
Why do dogs get out?
Care-lessness, neglect, procrastination and avoidance.
Misconceptions about our dog being too smart or “different” and that they won’t go anywhere. No, they’re animals with instincts, curiosities and noses unlike ours.
The “good enough” attitude. A mindset of “what we have will work, has always worked and why bother”. I suggest going a little bit further… make sure.
My experience: The other day I said to my roommate, be sure and remove any food on the counters because Daisy will find a way to get into them. I went around putting cookies, pretzels, and crackers out her reach in cabinets and further back on counters. So sure enough, when I got home that evening, trash in his room was strewn from the can not only all over the rooms, but through the dog door and out into the back yard. A couple of dogs were still chomping on ketchup packages. Not cool!
Do I yell at my roommate, leave the mess or clean it up? I did half of all three. Suddenly the trash can disappeared and no more trash can cruising! Yikes!! Somebody has to be the bad guy. It’s usually me.
Best Tips to prevent escapes or injuries
Tip 1: Always be looking for problems
- Scan the yard daily for potential escape routes hatches, doors, fence holes where they might dig or climb over. Check for loose gates or fence planks.
- Be vigilant and obnoxious if you have to be.
- Alert family members of potential problems for pets. They may not see what you see or even care that much.
- Speak up for the speechless pets in your care.
Tip 2: Daily check the yard for open gates and areas where dogs can climb out
This is a self-explanatory tip. If you are checking these areas regularly it will ensure the safety of your pet.
Tip 3: Install indoor gates.
The Bow Wow Barrier retracts when the front door opens to stop dogs from racing out. We have gates throughout our home to shelter our dogs and guests now, especially when delivery folks come. With so many front doors without screen doors, this kind of barrier is a MUST! Bars aren’t always nice, but because dogs can see out and you can see in, and it contains them for the most part. They are good for everyone if monitored and not used to abuse or abandon.
Please be nice and make gating and crating temporary and not a lifestyle. They want to be with you!
Be aware: gating will cause excessive barking. Create a system or routine that allows for temporary containment.
Tip 4: Problem-Solve – Ask questions and Google solutions
- I Google everything. There is an answer to just about everything under the sun. If not be creative as best you can. Or ask a friend or family member.
- Amazon.com and Chewy.com have a plethora of solutions also.
Tip 5: Remove Temptations
- Don’t ignore the problem and hope it goes away. It may get worse.
- If you’re consciously looking for problems, you’ll find them and so will your pets.
- Put trash cans up high, cover them and/or dispose of smelly trash regularly. Take care of your babies!
- Put away food bowls after meals.
- Safely store dog and human food out of their reach.
- Clean up messes. Some like the taste of poop.
Tip 6: Check out baby departments for Dog solutions
- Most of what you can do can be learned from the children’s department. I installed gates purchased from Walmart’s baby department or from Amazon. These are removable but very valuable for the lives of my dogs.
- Continue until you’ve completed all the steps.
The Last Thing You Need to Know …
- Keeping our pets safe is not someone else’s responsibility. It is ours. There are so many innovative solutions out there, that if you don’t take advantage of them you’re being negligent and harming your own family.
- What do you do to keep your pets safe at home? PLEASE — share any tips, tricks, products, routines you might do, to take care around your house.
- Our K9 Kids, Kats and other pets trust us to keep them safe and happy!
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