Over 2 million of us became dog owners during the pandemic, driving up prices and unfortunately, creating a thriving black market in stolen dogs. The statistics make a distressing read for any dog owner, but there are steps you can take to protect your pet from thieves and increase the chances of getting them back if they are targeted.

A significant increase

Dog thefts were up by 19% nationally last year, with around two and a half thousand dogs stolen across the UK. Police data shows that the North West was particularly badly hit, with an overall increase of 68%, accounting for 15% of all dog thefts nationwide in 2020. Lancaster Constabulary had the fourth highest number of reported dog thefts in the UK, with 111, a rise of 25% on the previous year. Sadly, only around one in five stolen dogs are ever reunited with their owners.

The stats

You may assume that dog thieves target expensive pedigree breeds, but this is far from the case. While Staffordshire Bull Terriers topped the list of most stolen dogs, crossbreeds, or mongrels, were a close second. According to figures from Direct Line Pet Insurance, Springer Spaniel thefts were up by a staggering 433%, with Labrador thefts up by 189% and Jack Russell thefts up by 92%.

Female dogs are often more at risk, as thieves use them for breeding to increase their profits. Puppies are also in big demand and are a popular target as they can be snatched easily and will put up less resistance than a larger dog.

How to avoid dog theft

The most important precaution is to make sure your dog is microchipped and that your contact details are up to date with the microchip register. That way, if your stolen dog is recovered, it can be returned quickly and safely. Even if they are chipped, your dog should still wear a tag with your name and contact number. However, it is recommended to not put the dog’s name on the tag as this makes it easier for thieves to gain their trust.

Try not to leave your dog unattended if at all possible. Don’t leave them in your car or outside a shop, even for a few minutes. If they have access to your garden, make sure that it is secure, with locked or bolted gates, and always use the back garden rather than the front if possible, so that they are not on show. Always make sure your dog has good recall before letting them off the lead on a walk, to make sure that they do not run off and leave themselves vulnerable. Our Lancaster dog training courses can help you stay in control when it counts.

Protect your dog with doggy daycare

As more of us return to work, more of our dogs will be left at home alone and vulnerable, making them an easy target for thieves. For the ultimate protection, you can book them into The Lounge doggy daycare at our canine retreat in Lancaster. Not only will they be protected by highly experienced dog minders, they will also enjoy a stimulating, social day, instead of being bored at home.

With the average dog costing around £800, and pedigree breeds often costing considerably more, Lancaster doggy daycare is a small price to pay for knowing they are safe and sound, happy and being incredibly well looked after.