Dogs need plenty of exercise and hate being habitually chained as they cherish their freedom of movement – it’s important to give them a free run of your apartment or your compound (in case you live in an independent house).

However, it is best to keep them on leash while you take them for their daily walks. Letting dogs out of the building to go for their walks unsupervised is dangerous for many reasons.

With an increasing number of automobiles on the street, the number of hit-and-run accidents is on the rise. A free-roaming pet on the streets could be gravely injured or killed by a vehicle. Another risk that pets face is consumption of toxic substances. Your pooch might unknowingly nibble at food waste flung on the streets or plants that are coated with pesticide and face health problems like food poisoning.

The third risk is theft. This is particularly true of pedigree breeds — in several instances, they are dognapped by people who sell them to breeders, or directly to other homes. Friendly dogs that get along well with strangers (a majority of pets fall under this category) are therefore an easy target for theft. Another potential problem is dogs losing their way on their return.

With traffic routes being changed constantly and structural changes being made across cities, your pet might find himself stranded in an unfamiliar place after one wrong turn.

And lastly, a free-roaming dog that has a collar and looks healthy but has no identification tag might be reported by a well-meaning neighbour as a missing or abandoned pet, especially if the dog appears lost, anxious or confused.

In most of these situations, a local animal shelter is requested to pick up the pet for his safety. This could lead to a lot of stress for both you and the pet until you’re reunited.

To ensure your pet’s well-being, make time for at least two guided walks on leash everyday.

Many owners are now engraving their numbers on their dogs’ permanent collars and it’s ideal to do this for all pets – this makes it easier for a neighbour or a rescue group to return your dog to you when they find out he’s a lost pet.

SRIYA NARAYANAN

Hope, an Indian mongrel wearing a red and black collar and with a fractured leg went missing from Shantinagar near St Michael's Church. If you spot her, call her worried family at 9986599097

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