Identification for Your Dog (and You!)

Instead of a New Year’s resolution, I have a tradition I do to keep my dogs safe.

Just as I check smoke detector batteries when daylight savings happens, at the first of each year I double check my dog’s identification to make sure it’s up to date. This may seem trivial but it really isn’t. When a dog who isn’t identified is lost, he is far less likely to be reunited with his owner than one who is identified.

Microchips are Important

I’m sure most dog owners know what a microchip is; they’ve been around for a long time and most veterinarians suggest dogs be microchipped for identification. Microchips have enabled many dogs to get back home after getting separated from their owner. In addition, most shelters, rescues and many breeders have dogs microchipped prior to their adoption or sale. A chip makes it more likely that if the dog is ever lost, loses his home or is turned in to a shelter or rescue, the chip will help the dog get back home where he belongs.

Your veterinarian can implant a microchip. It’s easy, fairly inexpensive and only needs to be done once in your dog’s lifetime. To get the information from the chip, a veterinarian or the shelter or rescue volunteer will move a scanner over your dog’s neck or shoulders. The scanner will then show the unique number of that chip.

When I check each dog’s identification each year, I’ll drop by my veterinarian’s office to have each dog’s chip scanned just to make sure it’s still readable.

Register that Microchip

Simply microchipping your dog doesn’t do any good unless the chip is registered with your information. If the chip isn’t registered, the only ones who will have the information are you and the veterinarian who implanted the chip. However, if you register the chip, then when someone scans your dog and gets the information from the chip, they can then contact several of the registries and get your information.

There are many different registries, many of which charge a registration fee and/or a yearly fee. However, the Found Animals Microchip Registry has no fee for registration and no annual fee. Animals of any kind, no matter the species, can be registered if it has been microchipped. Found Animals Microchip Registry also offers registration opportunities for rescues, shelters and breeders to register their dogs as there is no limit to the number of dogs who can be registered.

Once you register your dog with Found Animals then call your local shelters and find out which registry (or registries) they contact once they scan a dog.

During my first of the year identification updates, I check with the registries and make sure both my dogs’ information and mine is still up to date.

Clips for Collar Tags

Microchips are wonderful but if your dog is lost and a neighbor picks him up, your neighbor isn’t going to have a scanner. Therefore some kind of collar identification is also important. Online you can find collars that can be embroidered with your dog’s name and your phone number. There are also tags of many different kinds in various shapes. All are great; get the one that appeals best to you.

Dog owners often attach the tag to the dog’s collar with the provided ‘S’ hook or key ring. As I learned, though, if a key ring gets caught on something it will stretch and lose it’s circular shape and all your dog’s tags will be lost. However, you have some additional choices now.

The Links-It Pet Tag Connector is a plastic connector that fastens the tag to the ring on the collar in place of the ‘S’ ring or key chain ring. Being plastic, it doesn’t jingle (although multiple tags will still jingle to each other). It’s easy to open and close, doesn’t require tools and doesn’t break your fingernails. I’ve had one on my youngest dog’s collar for several months. Bones is rough and tough, an active dog and I was skeptical that the plastic connector would hold up to his activities but so far it has.

If your dog has several collars and you’d like to be able to move his tags from one collar to another, the TagWorks Tag Clip is great. A key ring that can hold your dog’s tags is attached to a sturdy scissors clip.

Identification for You

Road ID Wrist ID is a identification wrist band for people. The company, Road ID, offers a variety of ID bands for bicyclists, athletes and other people who might not be carrying a wallet or phone. The wrist bands have an engraved plate fastened to it that can be customized. With six lines, you can have your name, phone number, an emergency number and more. Many dog owners have used this to include dog information too. For example, “The dogs traveling with me are…”  They also include an emergency number of someone who knows the dogs and even the dog’s veterinarian and his number.

Road ID also makes an engraved identification piece that can be attached to your dog’s collar. Road ID for dogs comes in two sizes: large and small. Both have six lines for information so you can include the dog’s name, your phone number, an emergency contact, your veterinarian’s name and phone number.

Just Make Sure Your Dog is Identified

I’ve used all of these products and have been happy with them. For clarification, I’m not receiving any compensation for promoting them. However, there are many other equally nice products available. The important thing is that your dog is identified and hopefully with both microchip and collar identification of some kind. Far too many dogs become lost through some kind of an accident—a gate left open, a car accident or a thunderstorm—and with no identification, it’s far more difficult to reunite dog and owner. Then, once your dog is identified, keep the information updated.

Meet the Author: Liz Palika, CDT, CABC

Liz Palika is a Certified Dog Trainer and Certified Animal Behavior Consultant as well as the founder and co-owner of Kindred Spirits Dog Training in northern San Diego county. Liz is also the founder of Love on a Leash therapy dogs; her dog, Bones, goes on visits on a regular basis. A prolific writer, Liz is also the author of more than 80 books. Many of her works have been nominated or won awards from a variety of organizations, including Dog Writers Association of America, San Diego Book Awards, the ASPCA, and others. Liz shares her home with three English Shepherds: Bones, Hero, and Seven, as well as one confident and bossy orange tabby cat, Kirk. To relax from work, or to take work on the road, Liz and her crew travel the West and PNW in their RV. If you see an RV on the road named "Travelin' Dogs", honk and say hi!

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