One of the most effective ways to ensure a capture attempt is successful is to establish a regular feeding plan. The feeding plan meets several needs:
- Ensures the dog comes to the same location at predictable times of the day (early morning, late night). This is helpful to know what times to come out to try and trap the dog.
- Establishes trust between the feeder(s) and the dog. Seeing the same people every day who are showing that they pose no threat to the dog will allow the dog to feel safe around the feeding station and crate/trap.
- Gets the dog nutrition and fresh water so that they are less likely to forage for food in areas where they are not welcome. Hungry dogs will do whatever they need to do to survive. The chances of the dog going into trash bins or fighting other dogs for food is diminished when dogs are getting fed regularly.
Our goal is to get the dog used to eating at the same location, then eating near a trap or crate, then eating INSIDE a trap or crate.
Below are the key steps in creating a feeding plan and maintaining your feeding station:
- Establish a scheduled time to feed the dog every day.
- The dog should be fed at the same time(s) and the same place every day. Consistency is key, so if you help in making sure the dog is fed daily, ask for help from a few trusted individuals.
- However, be sure to limit the number of people who are feeding him, and talk to them about the importance of not trying to grab the dog or chase the dog.
- Any type of food is fine to use. Inexpensive but smelly, tasty food is perfect for feeding street dogs.
- You may want to make a consistent sound or noise when you set out the food, like a whistle or rattling the dog food bag. This helps the dog recognize you and it may be useful on capture day.
- Feed the dog in a safe place.
- If the dog is hanging out at the same spot but feeding them there is unsafe (e.g. too close to traffic, not safe at night, in a structure that is unstable), then transition to a safer place by moving the bowl each day a few feet closer to where you eventually will trap the dog.
- Look all around. Make sure the location is easily accessible. On trap day, we want it to be easy to carry the dog in the trap away from the feeding station. For example, feeding a dog down in a creek bed with a steep incline will make it very difficult to get the dog out once trapped.
- Make experiences with you and the other feeders positive for the dog.
- Don’t try to catch the dog while you are building trust. Keep a good distance between you and the dog, speak in low, soothing tones, don’t make direct eye contact, and keep a non-threatening body posture.
- You might try to gently toss the dog some of these treats during this trust-building phase. Dogs really like Vienna sausages, hot dogs, and hamburgers! Just let the dog eat without feeling pursued. This can require a lot of patience, but if you scare the dog, you will have to start building trust from the beginning.
- The most important tip of all: BE PATIENT!
- This process takes time. Again, our goal is to get the dog used to eating in the same location, then eating near a trap or crate, then eating INSIDE a trap or crate.
- We understand how heartbreaking it can be to see a dog on the street for weeks on end, but we have had tremendous success with this method.
- As tempting as it may be to want to grab a dog once it gets close, please DON’T. It can undo all the trust you’ve built, and you risk the dog running away and not returning, or biting you out of fear.
Once the dog is used to eating in the same place, we will set up a trap*.
Getting Cooperation from Neighbors
- Talk with neighbors and businesses around the feeding station to let them know you are planning a humane capture. Give them your contact information so they can let you know when and where they see the dog (dates, times, exact locations).
- Many well-intentioned people can sabotage a capture by scaring the dog away. Ask people who are not involved with the capture to please not feed the dog. Explain that controlling the food source and having a schedule is key to catching the dog.
- Keep neighbors updated. Some people have found it useful to post on NextDoor.com or create a private group on Facebook that allows people to keep up with the dog without trying to go into the dog’s feeding station. You can post announcements and instructions and reach a wide circle of people at once.
- If anyone you talk with is unfriendly or unsupportive of your plan, be pleasant anyway. They may come around when they see you are acting in the best interest of the dog. You may also need access to their property, so it may be helpful to position your plan as a benefit to the neighborhood.
*Setting up a humane animal trap is always our first approach to capture. It is the safest and least traumatic method for the dog and the rescuers. We may need to try a few different methods of trapping, so please contact the Duck Team 6 Capture Team at firstname.lastname@example.org for help with your specific case.