Always keep a collar with tags on your dog!

The other night, just before we left to run some errands, I heard the dogs barking wildly in the backyard. Dog people can discern the subtleties of tone in their dog’s barks, and these were frantic, something-crazy-is-happening barks. We ran to the yard to see what the commotion was about. Turned out there was a large, sleek black lab running around, off leash, no collar.

Sweet girl we found wandering, collar-less.
Sweet girl we found wandering, collar-less.

My first thought was, Sigh, I don’t have time for this; we’re already late. And in a second, I remembered that horrible, horrible feeling I had when Pyrrha escaped from my parents’ house, and I had no idea where she was and thought I’d never see her again. Presumably, there was someone out there feeling that same way.

I ran inside, grabbed the first leash I could find, and Guion and I went to locate the dog. She had wandered a few yards over from ours, but we called to her with happy voices and she soon came running right up to us. (Color me amazed: I’m so used to these nervy shepherds who would never come to a stranger that I couldn’t believe she ran right to us.) I didn’t have time to find a collar, so I slipped the leash through the handle and made a slip-style lead for the lab. Meanwhile, Pyrrha and Eden are totally flipping out that we are on the other side of the fence with this new dog. We first thought she belonged to our neighbors behind us, because we knew they had a black lab… but when Guion entered the yard to inquire, another black lab (their lab) came running out to greet him. Dead end.

We asked several other neighbors if this dog was familiar to them, but no one had a clue. So we loaded her into the Jeep and took her to our local SPCA, which does a good job reuniting lost pets with their people. She rode happily and quietly in the back of the car, seemingly unruffled by the whole ordeal. We gave all the information we had about her at the SPCA, and the staff person told me she assumed this girl would be picked up in the morning. If not, they hold dogs for 7 days to give people a chance to find their pets, and if they’re not claimed by then, they go up for adoption.

I hope her people find her soon. She was a total sweetheart, a real gem of a dog. She had a sleek coat and seemed to be in good health, so I don’t imagine she’s a stray. The whole incident just reinforced my belief, though, that a dog should ALWAYS be wearing a collar with an ID tag with your current contact information on it. If we’d had that, this girl could have been reunited with her people that night. The SPCA scanned her, and she also was not microchipped.

Wear your collar with tags at all times, pups! Even when you’re in the house without a human. Even if you’re just in the backyard. You never know what could happen.

Custom Dog Tag  - Unique Pet ID Tag - Handstamped Nu Gold Dog Tag - Have Your People Call My People
Love this ID tag! From Etsy store CritterBling, $12.

Do your dogs wear collars with tags? Do you have ID tags that you particularly like that you’d recommend?


18 thoughts on “Always keep a collar with tags on your dog!

  1. My dogs wear regular collar tags, a boomerang tag – which I love because it makes changing collars very easy and they don’t dangle or get caught on anything. See link-

    and they are micro-chipped! I am not taking chances on the regular dangle tags getting stuck on something and ripped off or my dogs losing their collars somehow. So I loaded them up with 3 ways for them to find their way home.

    Since I have a German Shepherd too I worry about her not coming to people who are trying to save her. Thank goodness she is a “home-body”, but if she wasn’t I probably would add a GPS to the mix!

  2. I agree with you! Always have a collar on your dog, even in the house, as you could open the door one day and they could run out past you. When Nikita was younger, she stopped quickly in the backyard and actually backed out of her harness and ran like crazy all over the yard. I finally caught her by flying through the air and jumped on her. Who knows how long this ordeal went on, but it scared the crap out of me. Never do i go outside with our dogs without a collar on and on a leash. I hope that beautiful dog finds his home again. I know that I would be going out of my mind if our dogs ever got out like he did. (by the way, I love that tag you posted, it is hilarious)

  3. I’ll add another tip: if you have a dog who is very sensitive to having his collar grabbed or to being touched by strangers, get an embroidered one. Silas has one that you can read from several feet away, so that no stranger ever needs to physically contact him in order to call us. Ours is from, but there are a lot of sources out there.

  4. I’m bad about this, but have my reasons. Ruby did at first until I got to know her, but generally my dogs don’t wear collars in the house. I take the extra precaution of keeping my patio gate locked from the inside. She isn’t a door-dasher, and I put her behind the kitchen dog gate if I’m answering my door or letting anyone in. The back patio is fenced so we have that added layer of security for the back door. She is microchipped, but I know a lot of people don’t think of this.

    For me, it’s a matter of being concerned with the dangers of having a collar on without supervision – getting hung up on something, or tangled up with another dog. My aunt has a scary story of her spaniel mixes teeth being caught in her Doberman’s collar, both dogs panicking, one practically strangling. These sorts of things are rare, but they can happen. When I first got Ruby, I accidentally left her collar on in her crate one day and was an absolute wreck until I could get home to check on her. I think the likeliest scenario where she could escape is on a walk (and I keep her harness and collar clipped together in case she were to slip one of the other) and then of course she’d be wearing her i.d.

    If traveling or somewhere unfamiliar, I would definitely have Ruby wear her collar, but I would still be nervous about her wearing it when left alone. I know that I’m taking a risk either way, but the microchip does offer some peace of mind.

    1. Leaving a collar on a dog while they’re unattended worries me too… My shepherd got her collar caught on the inside of her crate once when left with it on. When I let her out next I noticed she wasn’t wearing it… miraculously, she managed to wiggle her way out of it when it got caught, but the idea that should could have just as easily strangled herself panicking doesn’t escape me.

      I work from home, so she wears a collar and tags 90% of time (and she’s microchipped, too), but I don’t leave it on her when she’s home alone in her crate.

  5. As above our pups don’t wear collars inside the house.

    They did up until quite recently, but then we had the terrifying experience of Zoey’s jaw becoming caught on Kasper’s collar whilst playing. Zoey was panicking but unable to free herself, and was choking Kasper who was completely unable to breathe in the process. It was absolutely terrifying.

    We did eventually manage to free them both, but they don’t wear collars in the house anymore! 🙂

    They have tags on their harnesses out on walks and are microchipped too.

  6. Perhaps the lab slipped out of her collar on a walk. I hope her people find her. I have a collar with tags on Max when we walk but the leash is on his harness. I agree that dogs should wear collars with ID tags when they are on a walk – but not in the house – especially if there is more than one dog – and certainly never buckle collars (See my post ttp://

  7. Poor lab girl! I hope she’s back at home by now.

    I’ve heard more than one horror story of dogs getting tangled up and stuck on collars. I never let Josie wear one when playing with another dog–so many dogs like to grab the scruff, and the collar is right there. She is microchipped and has an ear tattoo.

  8. Kaya and Norman rarely wear collars. As I replied above we had a scary incident when the dogs were playing and Kaya almost died. That being said, I started training them as puppies to stay inside open gates and doors and I eventually began having them off leash to walk to the car and hanging around in front of the house with me.

    In our new house there have been plenty of instances of gates left open with our contractors coming and going and the dogs have almost always stayed in the yard, with the exception of a few times when I’ve found them sunning themselves on the front porch. They lack any interest or impulse towards cats, squirrels, reactive dogs, kids, etc. so I keep their collars off.

    I’ll be forever freaked out about another collar incident. I rarely even put their collars on for hikes anymore. I think it depends on the dog(s) in this situation. Zoey always wears her collar!

    Oh and the are microchipped.

    1. I know, she was such a sweetie! Happily, I’ve checked back in with the SPCA, and her family came and picked her up the next day. So, happy ending!

  9. I am SO paranoid about not having collars on my dogs. The boys used to never wear collars because I was more worried about them getting their jaws caught on collars while they were playing, but once we got Jeni, who was a runner when we first had her, I quickly became crazy about not having collars or tags on at all times. All three dogs and the cat are microchipped (and Garth) and all have collars with tags on them at all times. Jeni also has a GPS collar. I think microchipping is even more important than having collars – it is permanent and they can’t “lose” it and also a good way to prove ownership (people can easily take off a collar or tags but can’t change the info on a chip).

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