Preventing the Loss of a Newly Adopted Dog
(or any dog)
Unfortunately, it is not uncommon to hear of dogs being lost soon after being adopted. These dogs are not yet comfortable in their new surroundings, are not yet bonded with their new people, and may not answer to their names or a recall command.
Many people consider the first forty-eight hours in a new home to be the most critical time to keep a new dog safe, but it is extremely important to avoid being lured into complacency. Always be aware of where your dog is, and begin to work on a wait command at doors and a recall command.
Be sure that the dog’s collar/harness is secure
The best collar choice is a martingale, also called a no-slip, collar. A martingale collar will tighten on a dog in the event that he attempts to back away from you, preventing him from slipping out of his collar. When a martingale collar is fitted properly, the two loops will not be able to touch when pulled tight at the narrowest place on the dog’s neck. Check the collar regularly and be aware that it might stretch.
If using a harness, it is extremely important that it fit snuggly and that the dog cannot slip out of it. It is amazing what a scared dog cannot get out of.
Although not necessarily a permanent arrangement, you can use a martingale collar and securely fitted harness at the same time. Use a short coupler and attach the leash to both.
Be aware that the collar or harness that was being used by a previous owner might not be secure enough for a newly adopted dog.
Newly adopted dogs are unsure of their surrounds, not familiar and bonded to their new people, and may become scared, slipping out of their existing collar or harness. Use a martingale collar or check to make sure that the harness is snug and extremely secure.
Guard car doors and secure the dog in the car
For the dog’s safety, a dog car harness or a crate secured in the car should be used for car travel. It is not uncommon for a dog to bolt out a car door after being adopted. In addition, a loose dog is not only a distraction, but would become a projectile in an accident and, after the accident, could escape through a broken window or when a door is opened by a rescuer.
In addition, keep the leash attached to your dog and secure it to a headrest or some other object. Make sure that you have a secure hold on the leash when taking your dog out of his car harness or crate.
Guard entry/exit doors inside and out
Do not give your dog the opportunity to bolt out a door, whether an entry/exit to your home or a gate to and from an enclosed outside area. The best approach is to create a back-up system at each door-way. This can be done by devising a safety area on either side of a door-way using a gate or enclosure with a gate.
If you have a fenced yard, be sure that your dog cannot jump, climb, or squeeze through it; be careful to keep all gates securely latched; and regularly check the fence for any spots that have been compromised (from storm damage, animals digging, etc.). Also check the fencing in any area where you plan on letting your dog loose, and do so prior to taking him/her off-leash i.e. dog parks, a friend’s fenced yard, a fenced ball field.
Other precautions include:
Confine your dog to a crate or small area that he cannot escape from prior to leaving your home. This will prevent him from bolting out a door when you leave or return home.
Confine or leash your dog if you are receiving company and the door will be opened frequently.
Do not leave your dog unsupervised outside, even in a secured yard. Newly adopted dogs can be amazing at escaping from supposedly securely fenced areas.
Hold the leash properly
Place your hand through the loop of the leash so that it is on your wrist, wrap it around your hand (or arm), and hold in securely in your hand. You do not want a dropped leash. Make sure that anyone else walking your dog knows how to do so and understands the importance of doing so. Do not let small children walk the dog without an adult also holding the leash. Be aware that the dog may try to bolt if scared by something or has a strong prey drive and catches sight of something. There are also leashes available that are worn around the waist.
Retractable leashes are not recommended. They tend to be easy to drop and, if dropped, will scare the dog. They also provide less control over the dog, encourage pulling, and can be dangerous – causing injury to the dog or human.
Keep the leash on
Some people choose to keep a newly adopted dog on leash for the first forty-eight hours or so. You do not need to always be holding the leash inside, but the dragging leash will make it easier to grab the dog if necessary.
Hopefully it will not be needed, but always keep an identification collar on your dog, even if he is micro-chipped.