Tips to prevent dog theft

When we go about our daily lives, we take precautions to keep our possessions safe. The same should go for our dogs, so knowing how to prevent dog theft can help keep your dog safe and sound.

11th March 2020

When we go about our daily lives, we take precautions to keep our possessions safe. We lock our doors at night, invest in and install cameras, create complicated passwords and insure our most valuable possessions.

Our dogs are just as vulnerable to being stolen as our other items, so safeguarding them from being stolen is crucial.

Dog theft and the law

It is important to note that there is currently no specific offence relating to the theft of pets – police do not usually follow-up pet thefts because most are worth less than £500 and the theft is therefore rated a low-level crime.

This means preventative measures are critical, as there will likely be no official help if they are taken and with minimal risk of punishment if they do get caught, it is a high-reward crime for thieves.

Why would someone steal my dog?

There are a variety of different reasons as to why someone would steal a dog, and while pedigree dogs, or ‘high-value’ breeds, are particularly vulnerable, no dog is safe from thieves.

Dogs can be stolen for:

  • Resale – some buyers won’t check a pet’s background before buying a dog, which makes things a lot easier for thieves trying to make a profit.
  • Ransom – a thief can take advantage of a vulnerable owner that will offer a reward for the safe return of their beloved dog.
  • Breeding – stolen dogs can be used in puppy farms, where is little or no regard for the health or welfare of the animals involved.
  • Fighting – some dogs will be used as bait for dogfighting, a cruel, sickening and illegal activity.

Terriers infront of a bike

What can I do to keep my dog safe from thieves?

Be wary of strangers

You might be more than happy to talk about your dog to anyone who asks but be aware and stay vigilant of strangers on your dog walks.

Be wary of anyone that starts asking for personal information, if you notice a stranger watching you or your dog, or if you see someone acting suspiciously.

Vary your walking patterns

Make sure to vary the times and places you walk your dog to avoid creating a pattern for thieves to track and plan around.

Don’t leave them tied up

Don’t be tempted to leave your dog tied outside of a shop or other public spaces, this creates an ideal opportunity for thieves. If you have errands to run, leave your dog at home so that they’re not left outside or take someone with you so that they can be with your pooch.

Take care with sitters and kennels

If you’re looking for someone to care for your dog while you’re out or away then make sure that you do the proper research, always check references and make sure they’re a reputable company.

Keep your dog safe at home

Thieves can take advantage of an unsupervised dog left out in the garden, so be sure to keep an eye on them at all times.

Check your privacy settings

Received a strange friend request or not sure who can see your doggy photos on your social media pages? It might be a good idea to check your privacy settings to make sure you and your pet are safe online.

Don’t leave your dog in the car

We never recommend leaving your dog in the car, the rising temperatures are one risk, but they could make a tempting target to a thief. So, always take your dog with you and if that’s not possible then leave them at home.

What should I do if my dog is stolen?

  • If you suspect your dog has been stolen, it’s important to act quickly.
  • Immediately report the theft to the police. Make sure it’s reported as theft and not a lost animal, it’s okay to be proactive and persistent.
  • Report the loss to your local council’s warden, neighbouring local authorities, your vet and your dog’s microchip company. Your dog’s microchip company can be found online using their microchip number or on any correspondence you might have received from the company through the post.
  • Spread the word on social media – post clear photos and detailed descriptions both on your profile and any other groups and pages you are connected with and encourage people to share quickly.
  • Create posters and flyers, distribute these around your local community. Check your insurance policy, it might be able to cover some of these costs.
  • Report the theft on as many missing animal websites as you can and keep an eye out on social media and selling pages.

For more tips on how to safeguard your pet, guides to help you through the seasons, and tips and tricks to help you be the best pet-parent keep an eye out on our blog.

More on our dog blog

Read more news articles, opinion pieces, reviews and personal stories behind our dogs on our blog. 


Need dog insurance?

Dog insurance can help cover the cost of veterinary treatment if your dog gets injured or falls ill.


We know pets

Animal Friends Insurance is a multi-award winning FCA-regulated pet insurer, founded in 1998 to provide industry-leading pet insurance and first-class animal care to create a better life for every animal.
As one of the UK’s largest pet insurance providers, Animal Friends works with vets, veterinary professionals, and partners pioneering the latest veterinary technology & healthcare advancements to achieve our vision.
Our policyholders have helped donate over £8.5 million to more than 800 animal charities worldwide and by educating and inspiring others to act on current events and responsible pet ownership, Animal Friends is driving positive change for animal welfare and conservation.