5 Things You Should Buy Before Bringing Home a New Dog

Dog Tag Drivers License

Congratulations on your new fur friend!

You just saved your new dog from the shelter or rescued him from the streets. He isn’t used to his new home or surroundings and he may be looking to escape to “get back to his home”. There are several things you should do as soon as you bring him home, or maybe even on the way home. If he does lose his way, how will someone that finds him get him back to you? Less than 20% of lost dogs are returned to their owners. Make sure if your dog is found that someone can contact you. That is the fastest way to get your pet back to you. Here are 5 things you should buy before bringing home a new dog.


Help Bring Your Dog Home

Dog Tag License Plate

License Plate

Dog Tag Drivers License

Driver’s License

1.  Make sure your dog has a collar with a name tag that includes your phone number. You can have your name and number embroidered into the collar or you can even have tags that look like a human’s driver’s license or license plate.




2. Take photos of your new fur friend. I know, you already have taken hundreds of photos already, but make sure to take a photo of each side and of any distinguishing marks he may have. Now, your photos will be available in the unlikely event that the worst has happened and your fur friend is missing. You will need those photos for social media, posters, and lost pet apps. Upcoming article: A review of lost pet apps.

3. Create a profile on a pet app like FidoFinder. Upload photos and a description of your dog while he is safe. If your dog becomes, lost you can select “I’m Lost” and your dog’s info will be made available in the app. You can search under found dogs to see if anyone has caught him. Owners and finders can search by breed, color, size, sex, and zip code. You can even offer a reward. Most apps that I review in this article, An App is the Best Way to Find a Lost Dog, were free.

4. Get your dog microchipped. A microchip is about the size of a grain of rice and will contain a registration number and the phone number to the registry your dog is listed in. If your pet is found by someone, they can take him to a vet and have him scanned. The vet calls the registry and you will be contacted with the information that was included. You need to update your info when you move.Image of a dog microchip

Having your pet microchipped costs around $45 and no anesthesia is needed. Before buying a microchip, check to see if your vet will accept one that he hasn’t provided. My vet will not. When you purchase a microchip, they will usually register your pet at no charge, but some organizations have annual fees and provide extra services with registration. Some organizations that provide microchips and/or registration are AKCReunite.org, the Microchip Registration Center, and Found Animals.org. Remember, the information on the microchip will only be available after your pet is found and will not track your dog.

5. Buy a Tracking Device. Your dog wears a device attached to their collar and is detected by satellite or a tracking device. There are two types, GPS or radio frequency monitors.

Image of a Whsitle 3 GPS Tracker


A. GPS tracker. There are many companies that sell a GPS tracker. Typically, you buy the tracker ($100-250) and have a monthly subscription of $7-10. If you buy this type of device, make sure you know which cellular service it is using. These devices use cellular data and towers to provide the location of your dog in real-time. Many can tell you, via an app on your phone, if your pet is sleeping or active. Some even have a microphone and you can talk to your dog. If your pet wanders outside a predetermined area, a notification will be sent to your phone. Then you can open the app and see where your dog is. Sometimes it may take several minutes to locate your dog. If your dog is like me, I can cover quite a distance if I am chasing a rabbit or deer. And that area may include a busy street, so a GPS tracker may not update you fast enough. Whistle 3 claims it can now locate you if you are 3,000 miles away! But, if you are in the woods, you may not get cell reception and you must have a WiFi connection to set up some trackers.

We tried the Whistle.  When I got off the deck before we had a fence, my mom was amazed at all the different directions I went while roaming the woods. She did try to supervise me and I was never left on my own, but I can run pretty fast.


“Whistle 3 uses AT&T, America’s Largest Cellular Network. (They previously used Verizon.)

Please keep in mind this is for the Whistle 3 tracker and not your mobile phone. As long as you have

cellular data & reception on your iOS or Android phone, you’ll be able to communicate with the Whistle app.”

This is not true! 


Unfortunately, Whistle uses AT&T cell towers and we happen to live in their dead zone. My mom would receive notice of where I had been AFTER I got home. So yes, it will communicate with you, but probably not when you want it to. This wasn’t going to work for us. It took many hours of calls to Whistle; they were very nice and helpful while we tried to troubleshoot why my location did not appear on in the app. The dead zone was the reason. If you are in an AT&T coverage area, it is pretty cool to see what your dog is up to when he is out and about.

I just discovered the Findster Duo. It is a GPS tracker that works with your phone. It does not have a monthly subscription and they say you do not need cell coverage or even a SIM card to make it work. That might be worth checking out.


Image of Marco Polo Pet Tracking SystemB. Buy a radio frequency electronic monitor. They range in price from $100-800. The difference in price is due to how far the system can track, 400 feet up to 9 miles. Obviously, if you live in a wooded area like me, 400 feet isn’t far enough. I have the Marco Polo Pet Tracking System. It has saved my life. Really! (Read about it in an upcoming review of the Marco Polo Tracking System.) A tracking tag attaches to my collar with an antenna and my owner holds a locator that shows the direction to where I am. As the owner gets closer, the percentage on the locator increases. It works in the woods, doesn’t use a cell phone, and only has the one-time purchase fee. It is very easy to use and has a range of up to 2 miles. Your dog can even be detected while in a house. You can use it with more than one pet and even on cats. You can also be notified if your pet leaves a predetermined safe zone. I’m not allowed out alone past the fence so, we don’t use this feature. There isn’t anything wrong with me being alone, I just prefer to have someone with me. Besides, my mom works so hard, sometimes that is the only time she gets outdoors.


Sometimes It Happens

Even though your dog may be an inside dog, there are many ways he could become lost.

Hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, and floods can scare your pet and he may run. There will be lots of confusion and damage in the area. He may lose track of where he belongs or maybe his and your home was destroyed or is underwater.

Maybe he didn’t like being boarded and escaped from the kennel, vet, or doggy daycare. I have seen videos of dogs escaping kennels with doors that locked from the outside but only needed to have the handle opened from the inside. Check out this video.

Maybe your dog was insistent on chasing after that squirrel and even though you had an inescapable harness on him, he got out of it. (I did that one day. No one knew I was able to get out of the harness. Not even me until I tried.)

Maybe the dog walker got distracted, or your dog decided to dig under the fence.

Maybe your vehicle was involved in an accident and he got away when rescuers tried to help.

No matter how your best friend got away, all you want is to get him back. Being prepared with these 5 simple items will ensure that he gets back home quicker.


My Dog Is Missing!

I know you are a very conscientious dog owner and you love your dog. You bought the 5 items listed above and tried to keep him safe, but due to one of the reasons above, he got away and the tracking systems are unable to pick him up, either due to terrain or because your dog has gotten out of range. Read the article, 8 Tips on What To Do If Your Dog Is Missing if your dog is still missing and you have no idea where he is and can’t pick him up on your electronic device. There are several more tips that can help your dog find his way back home to you. Don’t give up!

I like to hear from my readers. Did your dog ever escape? What did you do to bring him back home? What would you do differently? Do you use a GPS Tracker?  Which one? Please share to help another dog owner.

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