Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Benefits of a Slide Tag on the Collar

A ridiculous outfit will get a dog noticed, but only tags will get it home.

For a lot of dogs in America, getting lost is fatal.

The harsh truth is that many dogs are destroyed at shelters every year because their owners cannot be found -- the collar or tag comes off in the brush or is taken off by some idiot who has custody of the dog for a few minutes on a country road. "I took off the collar to read it, and then the dog just ran off into the bushes ..."

Some of us even have dogs that are cute enough to be stolen.

The chance of a working terrier getting seriously lost is much higher than for a couch-potato pup that slips out the front door and simply wanders off into the neighborhood where it is likely to be spotted relatively soon.

When out hunting, we are often far from home, and our dogs may be out of sight for stretches of time -- hopefully underground, but not necessarily. Anyone who hunts terriers a lot, will eventually have a dog slip out of a den through the back door, sight unseen. Not all settes are simple affairs in the middle of well-mowed fields!

Another problem is that, when hunting, dangle tags cannot be worn for fear they will get hung up underground.

I cannot tell you how many times I have seen terriers in the field with no tags on at all because the terrier owner has not figured out how afix permanent (and safe) identification to the locator collar. This is a huge mistake!! A tag is always the quickest, surest and easiest way for anyone to get your dog back to you -- or your locator collar if it should slip off the dog.

Compounding the potential for serious trouble in the field is the fact that hunting dogs in prey mode are likely to go off on their own if they think it will provide a dividend. If there are too many loose dogs in the field (another mistake!) it's hard to keep your eye on every dog 100% of the time, and the one out of sight most often is sure to be the one that gets lost first.

Remember that locator collars (i.e. electronic transmitters with hand-held receivers) only work for about 15 feet (the old Deben Mark I) or 40 feet (the new Deben LRT) or 180 feet (various types of modified avalanche locators such as Bellman and Flint).

Distances like this are fine if your dog is underground and you know where the dog is (more or less), but if your dog has taken off any real distance because it is chasing deer or chasing a dog in heat, you are out of luck.

The simplest way to ensure your dog is returned to you if it is lost while hunting is to put a tag on the locator collar.

Some people rivet a tag through the thin leather on their locator collars, but this effectively cuts the narrow strap in two, and means that the collar leather will fail sooner rather than later.

It also means that the ID cannot be transferred to a new collar when the old collar breaks.

A better way to put an ID on your locator collar is with a simple brass slide tag.

In many hundreds of digs, I have had no problems with slide tags getting hung up underground, as they are smaller than the locator transmitters (even the Deben Mark I), more flush to the collar than the buckle, and they slide in multiple directions. And no, your den pipes are not smaller than mine!

Deben locator collar with slide tag and electrical tape to keep the transmitter dry.

A good place to order tags from is Boomerang Tags. Order a stainless steel tag (they are scratch-resistant), and use CAPITAL letters as they are easier to read.

I include my web site URL ( as well as my home number and my cell phone number, address and email.

Boomerang Tags makes slide tags for nylon snap collars as well as flat-buckle collars.

A final small tip: Order Boomerang's smallest stainless steel slide tag for your key chain. Most people will return your keys to you if they are found. All they need is an email address or a cell phone number.

For information on microchipping your dog, tattoos, and pet ID registries >> click here

Dana Delany with GI dog tags. This is a relevant picture because I say it is.


Gina Spadafori said...

All of my dogs and cats have Boomerang slide-on tags, but I hadn't thought of putting one on my keychain. Great idea, thanks.

Anonymous said...

My dogs are microchipped, but in addition there's identification information on their locator and collar.

Rather than using a slide tag though, I use an indelible laundry marker, a silver "Sharpie", to write the information on both the collar and back side of the LRT case. Have to touch it up once or twice a year, but there's absolutely nothing to get hung up underground.