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what NOT to put on your dog’s i.d. tag


photo sources: hiphound.com, sassypup.net, moderntails.com, twobostons.com, dogtagart.com, dogids.comdotubo.comsquidoo.comagathaandlouise.com

Technology is constantly improving in the dog-finding arena, as it is everywhere else. Microchipping your dog is basically expected, and now we even rely on social media to help us find Fido. We even have apps for that! I recently interviewed FindingRover app CEO and founder John Polimeno about how that tool will literally change the face of the lost dog problem (you have that app, right?).

With all of this awesome technology at our fingertips, we still shouldn’t forget the good ol’ fashioned dog tag. If a dog has one, it’s the quickest way to communicate information to a good samaritan. It’s also the quickest way to communicate information to dog nappers and the likes of would-be Michael Vick wanna-bes. Sorry, but it’s true.

The one thing you don’t want to put on your dog’s tag is probably what’s on the first line: your dog’s name. That’s right…don’t put your dog’s name on his tag! It’s super-cute for him to be able to “tell” everyone his moniker, but not safe. Knowing a dog’s name allows anyone to call him sweetly forth, beckoning him into a situation where he might be sold or held for ransom–or worse. He could be used for fighting or could be part of an even darker fetish.

Sorry to go there, but it’s true.

So what should you put on your dog’s i.d. tag? Well, if you have a dog that tends to stick pretty close to home, your phone number should suffice. A cell number is best in case he goes lost while you are traveling. If you have an escape artist or the type that likes to roam in spring with the birds and the bees, you should consider adding as much information as possible. All of your phone numbers, and also phone numbers for a neighbor, friend, family member, or pet sitter as a back-up in case you can’t be contacted right away. Most people will want to help, but not everyone is willing to board your dog if you’re in the middle of a dinner date and don’t pick up the phone. Your found dog may then be released back into a life on the streets. If you have four individual’s phone numbers on the tag, your odds are better.

Should you include your address? Possibly. If your dog gets out and is a regular at the neighborhood park, then his address might be helpful for a finder, other than that, it’s just taking up valuable real estate for all of those phone numbers.

Speaking of real-estate: if that tag is just too small, feel free to add multiple tags! Many tags are quite light and, aside from the possible jingle, wouldn’t be a bother for you or your dog at all.

And with your added real estate, you could consider adding a kind message for the person who finds your dog, such as “Thanks for finding me! My family loves me and must be terribly worried. Please call them for me. I left my cell phone at home.” You never know. That personal touch just might make the difference for your pooch.

Let him be friendly and found. And let him be anonymous.

13 Comments on “what NOT to put on your dog’s i.d. tag”

  1. Almost everyone puts their dog’s name on his/her ID tags, me included. Sigh. The reasons why NOT to seem so obvious, especially in a society where animals are being used more and more for horrible, abusive reasons. Like you say, putting their names on their tags makes it even easier for bad individuals to accomplish their sick goals. Now you’ve got me sitting here wondering if I should order my two some new tags.

  2. I did the research before we did the tag so we didn’t put Donna’s name on her tag… we put the human’s names and the contact numbers ;)… one one tag though, didn’t want the collar to be too heavy with too many jangly tags. 😛

  3. Lis Carey says:

    I’m sorry, but I think this is silly. I have never yet seen a dog tag large and clear enough that it could be read at a distance. To get the name from the tag, the person had to already have the dog. If Scary Bad Person has gotten your dog’s name before getting control of tour dog, it’s not by reading the tag but by hearing you talk to your dog.

    And if your dog has gotten out of the yard, or the leash broke or whatever, your dog is at least as likely to be found by a good person as a bad person. If a bad person finds them, having the dog’s name on the tag will change nothing. If a good person finds your dog, being called by his correct name may make your dog more comfortable while waiting to be reunited with you.

    Your home address, on the other hand, is only dubiously useful if your dog is found by a good person, compared to having a cell number at which you can be reached, your pet sitter’s number, etc.–and it’s a positive danger if your dog is found by the aforementioned Scary Bad Person.

    And leaving your street address off frees up a lot more tag real estate for additional contact numbers.

    • well minded says:

      No need to apologize for your opinion, Lis. I appreciate you taking the time to share it.

      To me, it’s about not allowing a potential threat to gain further trust. Often just using a dog’s name can mean winning him over. I’ve been close enough to many skittish dogs to read their tags but not touch them. There are many other ways to gain that proximity (a juicy steak, perhaps) that we can’t control. We can, however, control what we put on the tag, and, in my opinion, including the name provides risk with no benefit.

      You make an interesting point about how calling the dog also reveals the name to potential threatening individuals. Presumably, if you are calling your dog, you are with your dog and would be able to prevent any malice. Maybe we should come up with a doggie alias or “public profile name” for each outing…not sure how to handle that!

      • Lis Carey says:

        I hope this doesn’t come across wrong. Obviously we are both thinking about the safety of our pets,and making choices that we believe promote that safety.

        However, I do find it interesting that you are so concerned about a stranger with possible bad intentions having your dog’s name, but see the only disadvantage of having your street address on the tag as being that it takes up real estate that could be devoted to more phone numbers.

        The Bad Guys are out there, but they are a minority. And when your dog us out in a walk with you, or at the dog park, when you are,active and engaged with your dog, is not the most likely occasion for dog theft. Your dog is at greater risk in your car while you go in the store, or out in your yard unsupervised, even in a “nice” neighborhood.

        We all have different things that worry us and trigger our fears.

  4. well minded says:

    Lis, I welcome your thoughts.

    I did say that there are some cases in which having the address on the tag would be beneficial. I believe that, in most (not all) situations, a good samaritan would be more likely to use a phone number than to seek out an address. The presence or absence of an address was not the focus of the post.

    Thank goodness the bad guys are the minority! As I do with my children, I expect the best while preparing for the worst. If we dwell on all of the negative possibilities, we live in fear. I prefer to focus on the positive and do what I believe will give my dog the best chance in the worst (however unlikely) situation. As parenting and dog-raising philosophies differ, so do dog tag printing preferences, and each owner should do what they feel is best in their particular situation.

    I’m less concerned with the “comfort” of my dog being called by his name if he should be rescued by a good person than I am about his safe, rapid return.

  5. thatjenk says:

    Interesting! The reasons not to put the name on make sense, but I still have Moses and Alma’s names on their tags, and probably will continue to do so (their tags are all concealed in quiet spots so they don’t jingle, so if you’re close enough to get them out of the cover, then knowing their name won’t add to the risk, IMO).
    In addition, we have our 2 cell numbers and also our city/province since we do travel with the dogs a lot, so then if someone scans their chips or looks for tattoos, at least they’ll know what cities to start with. In the future, I think I’ll add an email address to their tags, too. You know, in case I’m out of cell reception but have WiFi, or in case I’m somewhere I might not answer the phone, but will check other messages (e.g., family functions).

    • well minded says:

      Yeah, I think it’s a good idea to think about it in terms of your family…whether you travel with or without your dog, how likely your dog is to escape, if you have a prized breed, what type of area you live in, where the dog is likely to go…so many factors. An email address is also a great idea. I think a phone number or multiple phone numbers is the quickest, but email is also good. Perhaps noting which number is best to text to would be helpful, as well. Thanks for your comment!

  6. Sally says:

    A flip side to having the dog’s name on his ID is to help a rescuer gain the dog’s trust. I understand your point about bad guys but I think I’d rather assume someone who has found my dog might need to gain his trust in order to get him to a safe place. Also, if someone claims they have my dog, I would be helpful if they can tell me the name off the tag (which I would not have included in my lost pet ad) to confirm it is actually my dog. Of course, for human children, the downside of putting their names on backpacks and the like is that the human child may assume the person using the child’s name is a friend of their parents and trust the person.

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