The Pros and Cons of Taking Dogs on Surveillance Assignments #145

This picture prompted a topic that I thought should be talked about if you are considering taking dogs on surveillance assignments or any investigative assignment.  I come to the topic as an animal lover and a dog lover. I consider my dogs to be part of the family.  We even foster dogs through Ginger’s Pet Rescue which has been quite an experience for our family.

So I guess there are pros and cons to bringing your pet with you on a surveillance.  The pros in my opinion really don’t have anything to with being a better investigator.  But I have to mention them.

The Pros of Taking Dogs on Surveillance Assignments

You have a buddy with you

Having your dog with you keeping you company can help a surveillance day go by faster.  It is much better than sitting in your vehicle alone all day.

Your dog isn’t home by themselves

Your dog might be outside, indoors or even in a crate for an extended period of time when you are working.  Being with you on a surveillance makes it the best day ever for your dog.  

You can use your dog as a prop

In many situations you can use your dog as a prop when walking through a neighborhood to spot check a residence or in some other situations you might be anticipating (going to an outdoor event).

Taking Dogs on Surveillance Assignments
Me and Amber

The Cons of Taking Dogs on Surveillance Assignments

You might have to leave them in the vehicle

If you have to leave your vehicle to follow someone on foot or for any other reason then you might have to leave your dog in the vehicle.  And sometimes you just don’t know when you will be back to your vehicle.  

One of the major concerns there would that it might get too hot for your dog in the vehicle while waiting for you to return.  Leaving an animal in a car with warm or hot weather is a big no no.

Dogs have to relieve themselves

If a dog has to go to the bathroom that means that you have to exit your vehicle to facilitate that.  And if you have to do that then you are likely making different choices when choosing your surveillance position to accommodate having your dog in the vehicle.  You don’t want to compromise what you need to do during a surveillance if you don’t have to.

It might affect the choices you make

Having a dog in your vehicle will change the choices that you make during a surveillance.  It will make you think twice before leaving them in your vehicle to follow someone on foot.  It will make you think twice about your surveillance position.  It might make you change the way you drive when following someone because you have to worry about your dog moving around your vehicle as you drive.

Your dog might compromise your surveillance position

It is completely possible that your dog might find a reason to bark at someone or something and draw attention to your vehicle.  We do best in our surveillance positions when no one knows we are in our vehicles.  It would be unfortunate if a good surveillance position was compromised because of a barking dog.

Surveillance Stories With Dogs

Story of Another Investigator

An investigator I know has taken her small dog on a surveillance assignment.  The dog sits in the front seat and mostly lays down in the dog bed.  This investigator was working a specific surveillance that they knew was not likely to have a great deal of activity during the surveillance.  This gave the investigator confidence to bring the small dog along.  The weather during the surveillance was rainy and cloudy so the temperature wouldn’t get too high in the vehicle if this investigator had to go on foot.  

I personally thought it was an ideal scenario if someone was going to take their dog along for a surveillance.

2 Personal Stories Where I Have Taken a Dog on Surveillance

My 1st Story

It was either in the first or second year of my career and I think I had lost my claimant during a surveillance and I was headed back to the person’s residence in hopes of locating the individual. As I was driving through a town I saw a young dog running through traffic.  I immediately stopped my car and tried to shoo the dog out of the street.  The dog ran right to my car and jumped in.  I couldn’t believe it but I didn’t have time to argue with the dog.  I just got in my vehicle and continued to my destination.  

I called my wife and told her the story about the dog jumping in my vehicle.  She got quite a kick out of it.

Luckily for me the dog was well behaved and didn’t give me any trouble during the remainder of the surveillance which as approximately 4 hours.  I made a cup for the dog to drink water out of.  The dog just laid in my back seat during the surveillance.

At the end of my surveillance day I drove to the local shelter and dropped the dog off.  I told them if the owners didn’t locate the dog I wanted to be notified.

I called the shelter the following day  and was informed that the owners picked up their dog.  This was a happy ending knowing the dog got back to it’s owner after having an adventure with me.

The 2nd Time I Took a Dog With Me on a Surveillance

I use to have a diabetic dog named Josie.  She was our first family dog (since I had been married).  She was a pitbull mix and a sweetheart.  Being a diabetic dog meant that she received an insulin shot 2 times a day.  It was like clockwork every day for our family to be home to give Josie her food and shot.

Taking Dogs on Surveillance Assignments

One morning before work I gave Josie her shot and fed her breakfast.  Everyone was still asleep and I forgot to tell my wife not to give her a shot that morning because I had already done it.  In a conversation with my wife later that day she mentioned something about that morning and giving Josie an insulin shot.

My dog had two insulin shots and I was very worried that blood sugar level would bottom out and she would die.  So while traveling to an alternate location during a surveillance I stopped by my home and picked up Josie so I could keep an eye on her.

Josie and I spent the surveillance day together.  She laid down for the most the day in the back seat and kept me company.  It just so happened that having her with me on that day didn’t affect the surveillance.  Everything turn out alright with her that day.


I have never brought a dog with me on a surveillance intentionally without it being an emergency of sorts.  I have always worried about the things I have mentioned in the cons section of the article.  

I would love to take one of my dogs with me on a surveillance and maybe someday I will.  I will always be worried about whether it affects the quality of my surveillance. I would also be concerned about leaving my dog in the car for too long if I had to leave my vehicle.

Do you take your dogs on surveillance with you?  Are their specific circumstances you feel more comfortable with than others when deciding to take your dog on surveillance with  you?

Let me know in the comments.



  1. Great article. My opinion though, it’s a terrible idea, and we’re not servicing our clients to the best of our abilities if we are jumping out of the car for potty breaks, or skipping out on hopping on an LRT or bus with a subject downtown because we brought our dog and don’t want him in the car alone for hours. I have a dog myself, ofcourse I’ve considered it as good cover. But the logistics of it make me think a client would quickly drop a PI company from the vendors list if they knew our priorities were on the family pet and not on getting in tight enough to see Joe Claiment changing oil on his truck with the garage door open.

    • I don’t disagree with you Doug. Maybe someone that finds this article who takes their dog on a surveillance can share why they take their dog. Maybe they have some insight that I am not seeing.