If you have ever lost your dog, even momentarily when walking through the field, then you will have felt that instant panic. Will somebody safely find them, and will this person be able to contact you so you can be reunited?
Having identification on your dog’s collar or harness is the easiest way for you to be reunited. In fact, it is the law according to some surprisingly old legislation.
Dog ID tags and the law
In the UK, The Control of Dogs Order 1992 states that any dog in a public place must wear a collar with the name and address of the owner visible somewhere. This can be engraved/printed straight onto the collar or on a tag.
You could be fined up to £5,000 if your dog is found to be without proper identification, even if they are microchipped (which has also been law since 2016). Any other information is optional but it could be good to put as much as possible on there.
There are no laws regarding design, size and materials though, so as long as it has the basics on the information, you can go as personalised as you wish.
What to put on a dog tag
Your address is not only required by law but could be the most vital piece of information to place on a tag. After all, if the dog is found locally, it could mean an easy return as opposed to a breakdown in communication if the person who has found them has not been able to call you.
At the very least, you should have your postcode and house number or name on there. This means that a quick Google can tell the person which street you are on.
Another thing that is legally required, but you don’t have to put every detail on there. A simple initial and your surname could suffice.
If you are searchable via social media, such as Facebook, you may wish to put your full name on there which could act as another point of contact.
Having said the above, it is still a good idea to have a contact number. The dog may have been taken in by somebody and they are unable to get it back to you physically.
Put a number on which you are always contactable on there. This will likely be a mobile, but could also be a landline if someone is at home while you are out looking for the dog. You may even wish to put both numbers on there for extra precaution.
Remember to update them if your number changes. This can be if you move house, get a new contract or decide to go completely off-grid for a little while. Also bear in mind that phones can break, lose charge or get lost too so you may need to make temporary changes to ID tags on a walk or have a spare with other details on.
A matter of choice for owners. Some will decide to engrave the dog’s name onto the tag, but we would actually advise against it. Thieves could use this information to steal your dog and gain their trust, or to sell them onto new unsuspecting owners complete with a name they will answer to.
This could mean an easy reunion if all other information has failed. Your vet will have information about ownership, medical issues and may also have information about missing pets.
While they won’t be able to give your information out over the phone to strangers, they would be able to contact you or to take the dog in and scan for a microchip. It also gives the person who has found the dog somewhere safe to take them if they can’t hold on to them for any longer.
Does your dog have any medical needs? Are they deaf or blind? A service dog? Maybe you simply want to state that they are chipped, cannot be bred or have dietary needs so can’t be fed certain foods.
Engraving a dog ID tag
Remember that tags are usually double-sided, and professional engravers will be able to fit a lot of information on there while still making it legible.
If your dog has loads of information to give (and perhaps are a frequent escape artist), you may wish to buy a barrel tag instead. You can write down information on a sheet of paper and roll it up into this tag, for easier reading.
Will an ID tag fall off my dog’s collar?
This is a risk, especially if your dog runs through bushes or woodlands.
It is the law to have your dog microchipped anyway but if this was the case, a chip could really help increase the likelihood of a reunion. You may also wish to engrave or sew important information onto their collar and harness, such as your postcode.
Are any dogs exempt from wearing an ID tag?
There are certain occasions where a visible tag is not needed:
- Packs of hounds
- Sporting dogs
- Dogs used for capture or destruction of vermin
- Dogs driving or herding cattle or sheep
- Dogs used in special emergency services, such as police dogs, sniffer dogs, army or mountain rescue
- Any dog registered with the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association