As bird season ramps up all over the country it’s inevitable that some dogs will get lost. Nowadays, high-tech, dog-tracking systems have helped to curb wayward pups but not always. And not everyone has the dough to fork out for these fancy electronics. But according to Steve Snell, owner of Gun Dog Supply, the most important tool for getting your dog back home is its collar, specifically the brass nameplate on its collar.

Snell should know. Gun Dog Supply has shipped thousands of collars to dog owners across the country. And he’s got a pack of his own gun dogs that he also keeps tabs on. In short, the man knows dogs. Here are his rules for nameplates and what belongs on them:

No Name: Never put a dog’s name on the nameplate. Why? Because there’s no need for it. As Snell says, once someone is close enough to read the nameplate there’s no need for them to call your dog by name. Also, omitting it leaves room for more valuable information (see below). Besides, a dog can be stolen more easily if the dog-napping punk knows its name.

The Essentials: It’s crucial that you list your name, at least two phone numbers, and your hometown and state. Your street address and zip code aren’t necessary. “How many people are going to drive your dog home,” says Snell. “They’re going to call you.”

Double Up: The most innovative thing Snell does is put two nameplates on each collar. This allows him to fit a load of information on a collar.

More Phone Numbers: With two tags, Snell puts more phone numbers on the nameplate. For example, include your cell phone, home phone, office phone, and even the phone number of a close relative or hunting buddy who will know what to do if they get a call about your lost dog.

Offer Something: With more room on the nameplate it’s not a bad idea to list REWARD IF FOUND. This helps add some urgency to cause at hand…which is getting your dog back. And besides, says Snell, “No one has ever taken the money I’ve offered when they’ve found my dog.”

I’ve had a dog or two lost before and I sure as heck don’t want it to happen again. I’m sure some of you have had the same experience. Here’s hoping we keep ’em close this season.