Straying, dog theft and other disasters can really cause untold emotional damage to the unfortunate dog owners who have to experience the aftermath of a dog going missing.
In this comprehensive guide, we give you some simple, easy to implement instructions on how you can make your home more secure and, as close as possible, dogproof.
When was the last time your heard a burglar alarm and immediately dropped what you were doing to call the police?
More often than not, the shrill, incessant droning of a burglar alarm is the result of somebody forgetting to let the cat out, a large insect disturbing the sensor or simply a power cut.
Very rarely are intruders apprehended in the presence of an alarm sounding, so those of us who wish to add an extra element of security to our homes need to think past the burglar alarm systems of old.
For many of us, our dog constitutes a significant part of what we consider to be our household security, but if it is our dog that appears on the shopping list of a burglar the ‘beware of the dog’ sign will only serve as confirmation that the goods are inside.
A dog being stolen to order is becoming more common, especially where rare pedigrees are concerned. This does not mean we all need to shell out thousands on hi-tech intruder systems and James Bond-style gadgets.
Any police officer will tell you that your common sense is your best weapon against crime. We also need to be aware that dogs don’t need to be in the garden to be tempted by an escape.
A front door left open for a couple of seconds could be enough time for a bored dog to nip out in search of some fun only to get lost or worse, hit by a car.
Effective home security relies on common sense more than anything. Are points of entry such as doors, windows and skylights blatant adverts to burglars that your home could easy pickings?
The most common point of entry in instances of breaking and entering is a ground floor window, at the rear of a property.
Double glazing is an obvious security enhancement, but there is usually one window that provides the weak spot. Does your downstairs toilet have double glazing, or does it have that frosted glass that obscures the view inside?
If it does, that is where your burglar will try to get in first. Nine out of ten double glazed windows are as useful as no double glazed windows from a security point of view.
If a window can’t be easily smashed, it can often be levered or ‘jimmied’ open. John Davies of Everglaze explained why their windows offer an extra element of security.
“In independent tests, PVCu used in windows and doors has proven to be the most resistant of materials against break-ins. This coupled with state of the art locking systems mean that you can have peace of mind as well as beautiful windows.”
Doors to the rear of your property are also commons means of break-ins. Doors with glass panelling are the most popular for thieves, whereas doors with ‘yield’ locks are the biggest deterrent according to Home Office figures.
Janette Taylor of Kershaw’s Door Warehouse explained how to pick a secure door for keeping dogs in and thieves out. “A solid timber fire door is the most secure door you can get aside from the steel ones you see on army bases and in prisons.
The solid timber doors are not that attractive though, but we work by the rule that the door with the least amount of panels is the most secure, a solid timber fire door is one piece of wood, so it has no weak spots.
If you want something a little more pleasing to the eye but still relatively tough and resistant, go for a four-panel door with mortice and tenon joints.
These are normal looking doors with reinforced joints at the hinge and handle. As far as keeping dogs inside you could go for doggie doors for glass or a concealed door closer.
The tension of the springs governs the time it takes for the door to close, but you are really better off making sure your dog is safely inside before you open the door, some of those door closers snap shut very quickly”
General Household Security
Dogs have been known to escape through the ground and first-floor windows. There are sophisticated locking systems available that allow a window to be partially open and locked at the same time if you wish to allow in some air whilst ensuring the window will not be nudged open.
Elaborate camera and panic systems are effective in identifying intruders and alerting the police, but they very rarely ensure your stolen goods are returned.
Whilst being effective in improving the percentage of burglars being caught, once your home has been breached any security measures you have taken become redundant.
Top Home Security Tips for Dog Owners:
Make your house unappealing to intruders by keeping it well lit.
Make entry difficult by having solid or at least near solid doors.
Ensure all ground floor windows are double glazed or at least have modern locking systems in place.
Don’t leave tools for a burglar in a place where they are visible. Ladders, house bricks and even skipping ropes have been used to break into houses.
All of the above is useless if you don’t use your common sense. Lock doors, close windows and ensure your house does not become a soft target.
Dog Proof Your Garden
One thing that strikes fear into any dog owner is the thought that their dog may escape from the garden.
This is why dog owners take certain precautions such as locking the gate, accompanying their dog when he is in the garden and in some cases actually keeping the dog on a lead whilst he goes for a quick stretch outside.
There are obvious risks and easily imagined worst-case scenarios every time your dog scratches at the back to the door to be let out.
With some careful planning and a little elbow grease, your garden can be escape-proof and more importantly it can be intruder proof. The last thing you want to do is spend money ensuring your dog stays on the right side of the fence, only for someone to hop over and steal him.
Your garden need not like a fortress either. Stylish and attractive features can be made out of the most practical and functional elements of a garden. Ensuring that your garden combines security with style and aesthetics is not an easy combination, but it is possible.
There are three main areas that provide security within your garden, the perimeter (fences and walls), the landscape (the layout, position of trees, ponds and other features) and the lighting (Deliberate lighting such as motion-activated security lights as well as the strategic positioning of trees and walls to allow for more light).
Each of these three areas provides focal points for any garden, adding character and charm as well as serving a practical function.
A determined dog can dig under a fence or even negotiate his way over one. Since an overly tall fence may look displaced in some gardens, consider making access to the fenceless tempting to a dog.
Water features such as ponds and waterfalls can prevent a dog from getting sufficient access to a fence to facilitate an escape. Bushes and shrubs can perform a similar function whilst being cheaper and providing colour.
If you want to keep your dog away from certain parts of the garden, a fence with weld wood panels (From £92.25 for 1.2 metres) is a good option. Louise Tomlin of Jacksons Fine Fencing explained, “The weld-wood panel fences are an excellent idea for dog fencing.
They don’t make your garden look like an industrial site and are great plant support providing an easy surface for climbers to grow”
It is imperative for the secure garden that the fence goes far enough into the earth to prevent a dog from digging out.
Restricting a dog’s access to points of exit is key to achieving a secure garden. A well-positioned pond or rockery can be more effective than an imposing fence or wall. Combined with an effective wall they can be doubly effective.
The trick is to think like a dog. How would your dog try to escape? A rockery elevating a dog halfway up a fence can do more harm than good in preventing an escape, and can also allow for ease of access for any would-be intruder.
Tall trees provide an extra element to your perimeter. But they also reduce the amount of light getting into your garden.
A dark, concealed fence is an ideal entry point for an intruder, whereas a pond positioned underneath the lowest point of any fence or wall provides an extra obstacle for any intruder or potential escapee.
Lighting is a key element to the security of both house and home. Placing motion-detecting lights strategically around your garden (the cost of which obviously depends on the size of your garden) can ensure that any intruders are deprived of the cover of darkness.
Lighting does little to prevent a determined intruder, but it is often used as a deterrent to the opportunist.
Clever lighting adds style and beauty to any garden. Consider placing upwards pointing spot lamps underneath a tree or in a border.
Make your garden look twice the size by arranging your lighting in the corners of your garden or at any elevated points such as a rockery or raised decking.
You can get more helpful (potentially life-saving) tips, advice and resources like this by joining the thousands of grateful dog lovers with a K9 Magazine Premier Membership.