How to protect pets from thieves: tips from a West Sussex dog trainer

With pet thefts on the rise, we spoke to a West Sussex dog trainer for her tips on keeping your dogs safe

Dog trainer Lucy Rose with her dog Bodhie Pr0l93pyKgPaA1x36RGt
Dog trainer Lucy Rose with her dog Bodhie Pr0l93pyKgPaA1x36RGt

According to a Sussex Police survey, police pet thefts in the UK have increased by 250% since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, with 78% of respondents saying they were scared of taking their dog for a walk during the day. For Bognor-based dog trainer Lucy Rose, that surge is a response to increased demand.

“At the moment, they’re so valuable because the breeding prices have gone up.” She said. “For a cockapoo, breeders are charging like £2,000. It’s become extortionate because everyone wants a puppy at home. So, people are stealing (dogs) and, if they’re not neutered, using them for breeding.If they are, they send them further up north or wherever to sell as ‘unwanted pets’.”

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Despite the massively increased risk, the 26 year old says that keeping dogs safe is often a question of common sense.

“Obviously staying alert is important,” she said, “so I’d recommend not having headphones in on walks and taking in your surroundings; asking yourself what’s going on and who’s around you. That sort of thing.”

A dog trainer with several years experience, Miss Rose runs Platinum Dog Training, offering one to one training, group sessions, online courses and consultation to clients all over the county.

She made clear that training, and the strong bond it can form, might make the difference between a safe pet and a vulnerable pet. Reliable recall in particular, she says, will help keep the dog in sight and away from any potential threats, especially if they are off-lead.

“Don’t engage too much in conversation about your dog,” she adds. “Before all this went on, people would come up to me and ask about my dog. I even had someone ask if he was neutered. And always, straight away, even if he wasn’t, I’d say ‘oh yeah, they went a long time ago.’ So almost try to make your dog sound as unappealing- to a thief anyway- as possible.”,

That means it’s important to keep basic information about your pet as private as possible. Withholding a dog’s name, age, gender and breed from inquisitive strangers might make it that much harder for thieves to identify and, eventually, target your pet.

That might also mean changing up your routine. Walking your dog at different times of day, to different places and different distances isn’t just good for your dog, she says, it can also throw potential thieves off the scent. “Just make sure you’re not being predictable,” she said.

Finally, Ms Rose says, it’s important to have a plan and to know how to react if someone does take your pet.: “If you can see that someone is physically going to take your dog and there’s no way you can fight them off, take a picture of them. Take a mental note of any tattoos, piercings, hair length, build and what direction they go in. And then obviously call the police as soon as possible.” She said

Alongside her work as a dog trainer, Miss Rose is also offering a free socialisation chart to anyone who gets in touch. The charts, filled with tips, trick and techniques to bring your four-legged friends out of lockdown, will be sent to anyone who emails Miss Rose on [email protected]

To find out more about Platnium Dog Training, click here.

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