Capturing Dogs with Boxtraps, Part 1. How to Set the Trap

Capturing Street Dogs in Ladakh, India

For a detailed training video on on how to box trap dogs – visit our GWR Products page.

Sometimes the most efficient way to capture dogs is with a box trap.  In disaster response, the first dogs are caught by hand, but there gets a point when the fearful dogs cannot be approached.  Then box  traps will bring the dogs out of the rubble.  In animal control or dog rescue, people may need to capture specific dogs. Box traps can be placed along their travel route or favorite spots.  And in trap/neuter/release programs such as the work I did in India and Caribbean, box traps are an efficient way to gather many dogs.

But few people know how to successfully use box trap.  Attend to the details…..and here is one way to do it.

You can download a free handout on box trapping from Global Wildlife Resources by visiting our free Training Library.

Which type of boxtrap?

Without any doubt, my favorite trap is the Tru Catch 48F Folding Dog trap.  I have used them in Montana, New Orleans, the Caribbean and have even taken them to India (with great difficulty).    I like the Tru Catch 48F Folding Dog trap because it is very rugged, strong and lasts for years even with ocean salt..  It is compact so many traps can me moved together.   It is very versatile to use in many ways because both ends open so dogs can be shifted to a varikennel or to another trap.

The best source for purchasing the Tru Catch trap is to contact Wanda or her family at  Heart of the Earth Animal Equipment.

Setting the trap

1) Most important – choose a location that is cozy for the dog and hidden from the public.   Dogs have a denning instinct which can be used to our advantage.  And people and traps do not mix.  People will either steal the traps, release the dogs, or harm the dogs.

Place it out of sight and possibly against a building or in the bushes.  A trap out in the middle of a field is not a cozy thing.   Strive to keep it in a cool, shady, quiet place.   For security either use a coated cable and lock or find a private landowner who will watch it or has controlled access.

Always document on paper where every trap is placed.  It is taboo and unethical to loose a trap!   I have seen this happen too many times with disaster response.

2) The trap must be solid on the ground and should not shake or wobble.   To ensure this, scrape the ground with the bottom edge of the trap and create a pile of dirt/duff in front of where the door will be.  You will use that later.  Once the ground is scraped, set the trap over that flat area and push down on each corner to see if it will wobble.  If it does, use rocks or dirt in the corners to make it stable.

Many feral dogs will not mind stepping into a trap and walking on the wire, but always assume you are trying to catch the smartest most fearful dog.   Use the sand/dirt/duff pile to cover the wire on the bottom of the trap.  In areas with a lot of junk or rubble I might  also cover the wire with cardboard or tar shingles.  MAKE A TRAP A COZY DEN FOR THE DOG TO CRAWL IN TO.  I often lean a piece of plywood against the trap.

For a detailed training video on how to box trap dogs – visit our GWR Products page.

Next article:    Capturing Dogs with Box traps, Part 2.  How to Bait the Trap

4 Responses

  1. Dear Dr Mark,

    My regards.

    Thank you very much for your great effort about writing this blog. Believe me you are a great teacher with such a understanding and compassion for the speechless.I read your comment about DOMINANCE few days back.And I am sure those who are really handling animals they can understand well.It so informative,but may be beyond understanding for the ordinaries (who just speaks but dont do anything physically).
    We have been using the same two traps probably you brought to india.As you are aware that since April 2009, I am on the Feral dog Mission/Project of the SARAH project at the high altitude areas of sikkim,I found these traps are very useful and safest for both (dog and handlers)specially ferocious feral dogs are concern.For me,its the only best possession of the programme so far.
    I am very much rude with my staff if anybody misstreat these traps.We made some water proof covers for these traps so that we can leave it open even whole night for trapping.
    Dr Thinley, Dr beth and myself tried to make some duplicates from Indian market welders,but not as good as the originals and also it cost a lot.we are using even the duplicates ones also, as it works well provided if you are used to with this traps.
    We are tying a laminated paper piece where it is written, ‘DOG TRAP DONT DISTRUB’and our contact nos, prog add etc.
    Sometime I term them FISHING ROD, as it dont stop catching atleast one dog frequently.
    What we are doing is we stay or hide somewhere nearer to the traps and keep eyes on the traps.As soon as a dog is traped it is immediately transfer to the dog cages attached to the dog catching truck.And the trap is ready for the next, but we removed the caught dog form there or even from near by area so that its barking or crying noise do not alert the another dog nearby.
    This way we catch significant numbers of dogs.Even catching only few dogs from a feral dog pack matters a lot.This way one by one we catch almost all the dogs from that area or pack.
    But before comenting or operating in a new area detail surveillance of the area to know about the dog pack, there nos, head of the group, color, sex,(specially to be done at night)is very important.

    Mark I will keep on reading your posts.Its very helpful and learning.Thank you very much for the great work you are doing and teaching us.

    May all the sentient beings be benefited by these animal welfare activities all over the world.And lets all understand that only humankind can do and have to do.

    warm regards,
    Dr Phurba Lepcha,
    Programme Vet,
    SARAH Division,
    Dept of A.H.L.F & V.S,
    Govt of Sikkim,India.

    • Dr. Phurba, my friend,
      I am honored by your kind words. Thank you for sharing these ideas and skills. I continue to learn from you as I did when we worked together with Project Vet Train. I used to have just one way of using the boxtrap – by setting many traps, leaving them (when people will not disturb them) and coming back to see which traps had dogs. I have since learned from Kunzang of the Ladakhi Animal Care Society to see if a street dog will accept treats and if they do, set a trap near them and throw food in the trap. I also like your idea of a trap as a Fishing Rod! to hide within sight of the trap and taking dogs out as fast as they are caught! These are very effective and humane traps!

      Congratulations that the Vets Beyond Borders Sikkim Project is now a government program!

      And thank you for reminding us of our true purpose to improve the well-being of all sentient beings.

      I hope we can work on projects in the future to make this information more available to India and surrounding countries. Please tell others in India of this blog so that I may learn from them and learn how to provide information that is useful all around the world.
      Warm regards, Mark

  2. we have trapped hundreds of dogs using the tomahawk live trap but are currently trying to trap the “smartest most fearful dog”. I see where you mention “leaning a piece of plywood against the trap” – do I want to create a roof and sides for the trap? would a tarp or drop cloth serve the same purpose? look forward to your response.

    • Traci,
      The idea is to make the trap feel like a cozy den to what degree you can. Cloth or tarps will blow in the wind and scare the dog. Tuck the trap against a bush or along a building. Boards on the top and sides work well. I leave the back uncovered but you can cover it if it feels right to you. Good luck.

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