A microchip is a very good safeguard in case your dog is ever lost. The microchip is actually a passive RF device. For those of you that are not former engineers, what this means is it is effectively a tiny radio transmitter. The microchip is about the size of a grain of rice and is injected under the dog's skin. This is done on the back of the dog's neck. A hand-held scanning device is used to activate the radio transmitter. When activated, the transmitter sends identification information to the hand-held scanner. The scanner has to be very close to the dog's neck when this is done. Most animal shelters and veterinarian offices have these handheld scanning devices. Once the dog is scanned the information on the microchip is used to look up information on the dog's owner. Information like your name and telephone number.
The microchip is not really a replacement for a collar id tag. An ID Tag is actually human readable and the microchip has to be read by a scanner. The obvious advantage is that the microchip will not fall off the dog. The microchip itself is actually very affordable. Copper and Cody both have microchips the cost of the microchips was included in their adoption fee.
The microchip is useless however, if the registration information is not updated. The microchips that Copper and Cody have are both from Home Again. We have them registered nationally with Petkey. It was about $45 for lifetime registration.
The microchip is a really useful device but it is not a GPS or LoJack device. It can not locate your dog. The dog has to be found and taken to a location that has a scanner (i..e a veterinarian or a shelter). It is a very good tool but it is not a fool-proof way to get your dog back. You must keep the registration information up to date (accurate phone number, etc.).
The engineering of the microchip is pretty cool. It is designed to have a lifetime of about 25 years. While it may move around slightly after implantation, it will not get lost in the dog. Aside from the needle stick, the implantation is pretty much painless.
In my opinion, the microchip is very much worth the cost.
When it comes to my little guys pictured on the left, I think it is well worth the cost for the peace of mind. But, I also have ID tags for them.
If your dogs do not have microchips, I strongly encourage you to talk to your veterinarian about this soon! Particularly if the dogs are scent hounds. As I have said many times before, the scent hound breeds (i.e. Beagle, Basset, Bloodhound, etc.) really love to follow a trail and can get away from you easily while on the trail.
I also think it is pretty cool that when discussing the technology of microchips two of my favorite things Ham Radio and Dogs sort of overlap. I am a recovering engineer, ya know :) If any of you are also Techies, Nerds or recovering engineers like me, there is some really interesting technical information about how these chips work at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microchip_implant_(animal).
If you have any questions about identification for your dog or if you have any training questions or issues, please contact me at any time.
Till next time
William Moore Canine Training