Easy Ways to Keep Your Pet Secure

Easy Ways to Keep Your Pet Secure

Michelle’s dogs

Lauren from L Bee and the Money Tree wrote recently about how her dog, Murray, decided to take a little jaunt around the neighbourhood at 11pm in the middle of the rain storm, leaving her a nervous wreck until she found him.

While this story ends well, it’s one we’ll all familiar with. I’ve been a victim of it myself. My dog Molly pulled the same trick on me last summer, except she was a full half mile away when she was found.

Dogs and cats disappear every day. Some estimate that 10 million are reported missing every year. If you own a pet, odds are, it’s going to give you the slip at some point in its life, and go missing. Hopefully your story will have the same happy ending mine and Lauren’s did, but to improve those odds, here are some ways you can keep your pet keep your pet from escaping, and help ensure it’s found quickly.

Secure Your Parameter

Many, many dogs will take any opportunity to go exploring their neighbourhood, and an open backyard gate the perfect temptation. To help protect against this possibility, install an automatic closing device on your gates to ensure that if they are left open for any reason, they’ll close on their own.

In addition to this, consider installing an underground electric fence, which will deter against fence digging and wandering out of an open gate. I have one installed around the parameter of my property, and my dog Molly has rarely wandered off. The cost of one of these fences can be as low as a few hundred dollars, and is money well spent. There are even options available for cats!

Register Your Pet

In most cities, dogs are required to be registered, and will receive an ID tag to attach to their collar. This ID tag will contain a ID number and toll free number to call. Anyone who finds a dog with an ID tag, will have a way of getting in contact with the owner.

One caveat to this method: Don’t forget to update your pet’s info when you move! Otherwise, your contact information will be out of date and the people who found your pet will have no way of getting in contact with you. Registrations are typically inexpensive, renewable yearly and often required by law.

Microchip Your Pet

This is a great option for both cats and dogs, and is widely available at your local vet’s office. Instead of an ID tag, the vet will insert a small microchip underneath your pet’s skin. The chip will be readable by a scanner that most vet’s offices and animal shelters are equipped with. This is particularly beneficial if a pet is found by animal control.

It also has the benefit of always being with your pet, even if they slip out of their collar and have no tags on them. As I mentioned above, don’t forget to update this information when you move! This isn’t typically expensive, it cost me $10 to have my dog Molly microchipped at the SPCA.

Have a “Go” Plan

Sometimes, despite your best intentions, your pet ends up missing. In these situations, having a plan in place to recover your pet could mean the difference between a few hours of searching and a few weeks. Have a “Lost Pet” poster prepared and saved on your computer, so that you can easily and quickly print out several posters to put up around the neighbourhood. Become acquainted with the local lost pets Facebook groups and message boards so you can quickly and easily get the word out to the local community. Finally, don’t forget to call your local shelter and vet’s offices with a description of your pet, in case animal control or a concerned citizen turns him or her in. By quickly publicizing the fact that you are looking for your pet, you increase the number of people keeping an eye out, thus increasing the chances your pet will be found.

No one likes to think about the fact that some day, you might be trudging the streets of your neighbourhood, calling your pet’s name. By taking these simple and inexpensive precautions  you can minimize the chance of harm coming to your pet, and increase the odds of a happy ending to your pet’s adventure.

Have you ever lost a pet? I want to know!



    • says

      My kitty is an escape artist as well, in particular, she's a door dasher. I can't say how many times I've chased her through the woods after she's sprinted out the door while my arms are full of groceries.

  1. Brian says

    My parents had a cat that just decided to live in someone else's house for a week. She was an indoor/outdoor cat and would hang outside most of the day and the come in at night. One night she didn't come in, which was no big deal it was really nice out, Then another night and another… soon it was a week. We put up signs in the area and someone from the next neighborhood over called and said they had our cat. She just walked into their house one night and decided she was going to live there. We got her back home and she never did it again. We decided that all she really wanted was a vacation away from the dog.

  2. John S @ Frugal Rules says

    Wow, 10 million are reported missing each year? Our cat got out once years ago. He got himself so freaked out that he had no clue what was going on. He's always been an indoor cat and just scared him half to death by getting outside. Our biggest worry now is one of the kids trying to maul him. 😉

  3. says

    We plan on getting a dog this summer and one thing we absolutely have to do before then is make sure the fence is sealed completely. The corners may be an issue as they don't come together completely (most of the fences are our neighbors, not ours, hence the slight disconnect. These are some other good tips, as well. Thanks for sharing!
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  4. says

    I have never lost a pet yet but for about 10 minutes had thought so. Our house was broken into about 18 months ago and my wife called me telling me this and said neither the cat or dog would respond to her when she called for them. The back door was wide open so I told her to go to the neighbors and the rest of the way home (10 minutes), I thought both pets, mainly the dog were gone. Once I got home I searched the house and the person locked them both in the bedroom up stairs. We were relieved.
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  5. says

    Dogs can travel quite a distance when they are "lost." It's how many of them end up for adoption through local shelters and rescue foundations. If your dog is Houdini and can escape almost any enclosure, make sure they are chipped and have an ID tag!

    Many years ago one of our cats got locked outside of our apartment for hours. Thankfully, he hung around our front door until we realized our other cat was acting funny, sitting next to the front door for hours. Good thing we decided to open the door!

    • says

      That's how my dog was brought to the SPCA, she was a "stray at large" and had no ID or microchip. That's why she's not tagged and microchipped up the wazoo, in case she decides to go on an adventure any time soon!

  6. says

    Here's a crazy story, sorry for blowing Michelle's comments up. We had an outdoor cat growing up and got caught outside in the winter when a storm hit. We weren't too worried since he had proven his resourcefulness before. When he didn't come home after the storm stopped we started looking for him. After almost 2 days we were worried sick. I grew up on a small street and the cats never traveled far. We started knocking on the neighbors doors no one had seen him. We called the vet to see if someone had turned him in but after a week we started losing hope. About 2 weeks after the storm I see him running up the street! I was so happy and I follow him to a little old lady's house up the street who let him in her house. When I knocked on the door and asked for my cat she said that he wanted to now live with her and that she had been feeding him (junk cat food) for a few weeks. We knocked on her door and asked her if she had seen him the day after the storm and she said no!! He was on a pretty strict diet (ie bland) with us and she was feeding him garbage and he was loving it. So essentially she stole him. We tried to get him to come home multiple times but he continued to go to her house where, to the best of my knowledge 6 years later he still lives. So make sure you add ''protect from old lady cat snatchers'' to your list!
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  7. says

    well, my first dog used to run away, but it was more like "hey I´m running this way and you can`t catch me" along the freakin`HIGHWAY.. and one time he ran into a pasture where a big bull resided, because he was running after some chickens.. And one time he decided to run of in Stockholm (Capital of Sweden), but all the times he ran of, I was always running like crazy after him. My family`s dogs have both microchips and nametags with phonenumbers on their collars, in case they run of. Luckily they`ve never done anything like my first dog used to. Thank GOD!
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    • says

      Me too! I was so upset the one time Molly decided to take off, I was sure she was going to get hit by a car or fall into the river or something!

  8. says

    I microchipped and registered my dog. I had a fenced yard. The dog learned to climb and dig. (Yes, some dogs climb fences…) I added an invisible fence. The dog figured out that if she came at the fence REALLYREALLY fast, she could get over before she got zapped too much. Eventually, she had to be on a chain when she was outside in our fenced and invisible fenced back yard. It was an enormous pain, but with a Houdini dog, there weren't any other options at that point!
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    • says

      Definitely, in my experience though, dogs and cats that try really hard to escape are just bored, and wouldn't try so hard if they were given a "job".

  9. debtroundup says

    I have not lost a pet, but my mother in law lost her dog the day after she got him. I was able to locate him using a website and she got him back the next day. Our dogs are chipped, but I don't think we have updated the data in a long time. I might need to go in and check that.
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    • says

      I have a folder with all of my pet's info, including microchip info, so that it's a snap to update it when we move. Most people forget to update their pet's microchip when they move, making the chip essentially useless!

  10. says

    These are great tips. We have a dog and a cat. The dog has never been lost for more than a few minutes which is a blessing. The cat on the other hand has been missing, but not for longer than a few hours. Our cat is only an indoor cat, but there has been 2 times (most recently this morning) where our door has blown open because it wasn't closed all the way and she has gotten out. Because she's an indoor cat, we don't have a collar or any tags on her, so we always get worried when she gets out. Luckily she's come back within a few hours both times she's gotten out. I'd be beside myself if either of them were lost long-term.
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    • says

      That has happened to me! One morning I came into the kitchen and the front door was wide open. I don't know HOW my cat wasn't outside, but fortunately she wasn't.

  11. Shannon-ReadyForZero says

    I can't get over that picture of the Frenchie :). Makes me want one even more! I used to have a Beagle that jumped our fence every night. Even with a chain on. Every morning he was back on our porch but it definitely wasn't a fun situation. We had to finally give him up to family members who owned a farm since our city backyard just didn't seem to be a fair enough amount of land for him. He obviously loved to run! I was heartbroken since I was so young but it's a good lesson that you also have to buy the right type of dog for your lifestyle. (Another reason I love Frenchies – they are just a bit too lazy to mind living in a tiny city apartment like the one I have now :) ).
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    • says

      Beagles are definitely tough to have in the city, they are so instinct oriented and they just want to follow their nose! It sucks that you had to give him up, but at least you did the best thing for him!

  12. says

    This past summer during the Sask Summer games at the end of July our little dog ran during a thunderstorm. We live on a farm and we assume someone picked her up on the highway just south of our house. We put up signed and searched for her…went through the fields,called neighbors etc. She's gone missing before via hopping a ride in the propane truck and making her way home 2 weeks later so We held out hope for a good 3 or 4 weeks before we stopped searching and calling for her. My sister was heart broken. We've had Rosie for 8 years now.

    Now for the good part. Almost three months after Rosie disappeared, just after Halloween my sister was in town (actually a "city") 45 minutes away from home. She was walking down the street with a friend from 7-11 and Rosie appeared out of nowhere. She ran up to my sister barking and jumping on her. My sister Grabbed her and ran. We know she's rosie because the first thing my mom did was take her to the vet to have her tattoo checked and her heart murmur checked as she had been missing and off her meds for 3 months. She wasn't being fed properly or brushed…she needed to be shaved she was so matted but We were SO glad to have her back. She got home she ran around the house found her bed and her friend (our other dog) and was so happy to be home too.

    We don't know who had her or where she was we were just glad to have her home.
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  13. says

    Wow, 10 million? That's a whole lot of numbers. We had our share of heartaches when we lost our puppy once. After much searching, we couldn't find her. After a few months, we got another one and we've been taking good care of our little ball of fur ever since.
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