We all worry about our home security, and protecting our belongings against intruders. For many of us, though, our pets are much more important, so it’s somewhat ironic that we tend to forget to consider both their needs and their safety when we’re securing our homes.
If you don’t yet have built-in contingency plans for your pet should a break-in occur, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve sourced ten tips to keep your pets just as safe and secure as your belongings. Many of these tend to focus on dogs and cats, as they have their own special needs, but some tips are universal to all pets:
1. Most Important: Get an Alarm
And no, we aren’t talking about teaching your dog to bark at intruders. While it may be the traditional go-to for most homeowners, it’s definitely not as effective as a monitored alarm, and could even be harmful should the intruder decide to take physical action against your barking canine. Sure, an alarm doesn’t help you prevent an intrustion, but it could warn your dog, cat, or other trainable pet that something is wrong (see Tip 3). A monitored alarm which includes cameras is particularly important, as a specialist can remotely see what’s happening when an alarm is triggered and potentially get information about your pet’s whereabouts in real-time. Just make sure your system’s motion detectors are set to avoid triggering whenever your dog or cat walks around.
2. Make Sure They’re Microchipped (or I.D. Tagged)
It’s UK law to have all dogs microchipped, but many pet owners have not done so. Unfortunately, that can lead to some serious consequences should someone break in to your home while you’re away. Many dogs and cats will jump into panic mode when they see a stranger in their home, and it’s impossible to know exactly how they’ll react. Like us, they could go into fight-or-flee mode, and the latter could mean they’ll run out of the open door or window used by the intruder. Cats are exempt from the microchipping law, but they should still at the very least have a collar and ID tag on them at all times. Any other free-moving pet should also wear an ID, if possible.
3. Train Your Pets
Besides having an alarm system and ID-tagging, this is probably one of the most important and effective steps to protect your pets. It can, of course, also be one of the most difficult, so we advise speaking with a certified trainer to help you achieve it. If your pet is trainable, you can potentially teach it to hide in a concealed ‘safe space’ when it hears your triggered alarm. This can help avoid any issues with escaping through an open door, facing attacks by the intruder, or being stolen. A more advanced training option is teaching your pet to escape through a doggy door and go to a trusted neighbour’s front door. This can both protect your pet and help alert your neighbour that something is wrong.
4. Introduce Your Pet To Your Neighbours
If the above training suggestions are too advanced for your pets, you can still keep them safe by involving your neighbours. Introduce your dog to them when you take your walks, or even plan walking expeditions with other dog owners on your street. Have a cat or other pet? You can still have a friendly neighbour come by and meet them (who wouldn’t pass up a chance to cuddle a kitten, right?). The point is to make sure that there are people in your neighbourhood who can recognise your pet if it escapes, and either alert you or, even better, feel comfortable enough to pick up your furry friend and return it themselves.
5. Keep Them in a Concealed Space
This tip is mostly for pets in enclosures, but you can also expand this idea into keeping dogs and cats in a secure (and large enough) room while you’re away. Unfortunately, there are many opportunists out there who would be happy to break in to your home if they see a rare fish or gorgeous parrot, so it’s best to keep your pets away from street-facing windows. Give them a safe, well-ventilated and bright room set to the temperature which is best for their specific needs, but make sure people outside can’t see them. Additionally, to make them less accessible to intruders, avoid keeping them in rooms with direct outside connections, such as doors and ground-floor windows. Usually burglars use these to get in, then go to the living room and master bedroom, so keeping your pets in extra bedrooms or concealed alcoves may be more secure.
6. Close the Blinds
In keeping with the former tip, closing the blinds when you’re away is also an important way to make sure opportunist intruders don’t break in. If your pet’s room gets a lot of direct sunlight, this one is especially critical for its general health and safety .
7. Think About Air Quality
This is less about intruders and more about your pet’s health when you’re away. Without an alarm monitored by a specialist 24/7, it’s impossible to know in real-time if there’s a gas leak or fire. Sure, a regular fire alarm will go off regardless of whether you’re at home, but that doesn’t mean your neighbours will hear it in time to save your pets from smoke inhallation. When air quality reaches unsafe levels, a monitored alarm will trigger and immediately alert a specialist who can then call your local authorities. It’s a faster and more surefire way for your pet gets out of a bad situation safely.
8. Avoid the Front Yard
Unfortunately, opportunists are even more likely to take your pet if they see it playing in your front yard. Some of the saddest stories involve young puppies who get nabbed by a passer-by while the owner isn’t looking. Some videos show just how quickly it happens, so even if you’re out there with them, it doesn’t mean your pet is safe from being taken. Backyards are of course better, but if you only have a front yard, make sure you keep them on a leash or keep a constant eye on them.
9. Consider Outdoor Cameras
These will help catch an instruder, or a pet stealer, in the act. Perimeter cameras can also catch your pet’s escape route and, at the very least, show you which direction they took while running off.
10. Don’t Leave Them Alone for Long
These tips all help a great deal, but they aren’t fool-proof. Generally speaking, it’s better not to leave any pets alone for extended periods of time, and especially not overnight. Any pet requires a certain level of commitment, and part of that includes staying at home more often. Not only is this necessary for their health and wellbeing, but also their security. If a break-in occurs while you’re at home, you’ll be better able to ensure that your pet doesn’t fall victim to the intruder.
Our pet’s wellbeing is almost always a top priority, and that extends to their security. If we prepare properly, we can be sure that our furry friends are happy and safe for years to come.