If there’s anywhere in the world you should be able to feel safe, it is in your own home; but if you’ve bred a litter of puppies, those puppies might become the target of unscrupulous dog thieves.
If you’re a dog breeder or have just bred one litter from your own dog, it is important to be alert to the risk of dog theft, which is occurring at a higher rate at the moment as a result of Covid-19 and the high prices puppies currently attract than it ever has in the past.
There are a number of things dog breeders should do to reduce the risk of litter theft, starting with vigilance in terms of the information you share in adverts for your puppies for sale. However, personal vigilance and physical security are vital too, and this article will outline some steps to take to reduce the risk of litter theft from your home.
Back a few decades ago, having a dog was considered to be a home security system in its own right; times have changed to the point now though that it is a good idea to install or improve your home security provision in order to protect your dogs themselves.
Fortunately this is rather easier and less costly to do today than it used to be, and you may well be able to do it yourself if you’re reasonably good at DIY and know what you want.
Smart home cameras and monitoring devices, alert systems, traditional security systems and obvious things like always locking doors, closing windows, installing window locks, and cutting back any bushes or trees that could provide cover for someone trying to break in are good places to start.
All too many dog owners are more or less permanently unaware of their surroundings, particularly when walking dogs; often because their eyes are fixed to their phones! This means you might well miss all sorts of warning signs something is wrong if you’re permanently distracted; something new or odd, someone staring at your dogs, someone trying too hard to look like they’re not staring at your dogs… All sorts of things that can only ping your radar if you’re not wandering around in a daze.
It is of course natural to feel relaxed at home and you should be able to do this; getting paranoid is not helpful and is even counterproductive and can make you miss a real threat because you end up seeing everything as a threat.
But you should take in your surroundings properly and keep an eye out for changes or anomalies. Checking your fencing regularly too and enduring any outdoor light sensors and bulbs are checked and repaired immediately if they wear out and so on is important too.
If at all possible it is a good idea to try to make sure someone is at home at all times when you have a litter; particularly once you get to the point that they’re advertised and so, are more widely known about.
This is not always possible for everyone but the less time the litter is alone for, the lower the risk. Also, if and when the litter does have to be left home alone, take care that you don’t follow a routine that could allow an observer to follow your movements and know when they could get in and out with your dogs.
Distraction thefts are something we often think of as happening to older people; they happen when someone essentially distracts the householder (usually on the doorstep after ringing the bell) for long enough that an accomplice can enter the house by another method (or get into the garden) and steal something; in this case, dogs.
Be aware of how distraction thefts take place and be alert to this technique. Remember you’re never obliged to answer the door nor to engage with an unsolicited caller, and if someone is pushy or hard to get rid of, you can be as firm as needed, including shutting the door on them and if warranted, calling the police.
Never let your dam or particularly, your dam and the litter when they’re a little older into the garden alone or unsupervised; dog thefts from gardens make up 52% of all dog thefts. It is easy to get lulled into a false sense of security about your dog’s safety in the garden, and if you are in the garden supervising your dogs and the phone rings or the front doorbell goes, ignore it until you have gotten the dogs inside and secured.
Finally, it is a good idea to plan for a worst-case scenario as well as doing everything you can to prevent it from occurring in the first place. Document everything about your puppies at every stage, taking several pictures of each one and all of their features and updating this weekly; getting them microchipped as soon as they are eight weeks old, and having collateral ready to publish immediately and knowing where to circulate it to get the word out promptly if your litter was stolen.
In some cases, stolen dogs that are widely publicised in this way pose too much of a threat to the person that took them, and could even result in the thief surrendering them to avoid detection.