How to Find a Lost Dog
If you are reading this article because you just lost your dog, take a deep breath and do your best to remain calm. The idea of your dog facing busy streets or being scared in an unknown environment is understandably distressing, but it’s important not to panic. You’ve got some work to do and it’s ideal to start the moment you know your dog is missing.
Start Looking in the Immediate Area Your Dog Was Lost
Even if your dog took off like a shot, chances are he won’t have kept up that pace for very long or stayed on a straight path. The majority of lost dogs are found within a three-kilometre radius of their home and many are found even closer. Be sure to look on your own property and surrounding properties, in particular around the homes of any neighbours you and your dog are friendly with. Check in open sheds, crawl spaces under porches and in dense bushes. If your dog was frightened by a loud noise, he may have sought out a quiet den for safety. If you two have a usual walking route, or a nearby park you enjoy regularly, retrace your beaten path, calling your dog’s name in a friendly, upbeat way.
Keep your mobile phone charged and on hand. Ideally, your dog was wearing a collar with identification tags, a personalised collar with back-up tags, and/or was microchipped so you can be reached easily by anyone who finds your dog. If he slipped free of his collar before he was lost, don’t despair, the chances are still good you will find him if you are persistent and thorough in your search.
BRING TREATS WHEN YOU SEARCH FOR YOUR DOG Take a minute to gather your best bud’s favourite treats and dog toys before you head out to look for him. Put a few of his favourite snacks into your pocket. Grab a squeaky toy he adores and squeeze it as you search. If he’s within earshot, the sound will likely draw him to you.
CHECK THE LOCAL ANIMAL SHELTER FOR YOUR LOST DOG
Whilst you are searching in your neighbourhood, call your local animal welfare officer, dog warden, police departments, and vet offices. Give them a detailed description of your dog to see if he has already been picked up or dropped off. If he has not been found, let them know you will be dropping off pictures of your dog later.
Ask For Help Finding Your Dog
Searching for a lost dog can be an overwhelming task on your own, especially when you are distraught. Enlist the help of family, friends and neighbours who know your dog well to widen the search and give you a much-needed break if the search drags on. This way you can create lost-dog posters, whilst another family member retraces your usual walking route and a friend visits neighbours to ask if they’ve seen your dog.
HOW TO MAKE A LOST-DOG POSTER
POST THE LOST DOG INFORMATION ONLINE
Repeat all the information from your posters on the many websites and apps that people can search if they’ve found a lost dog.
DON’T GIVE UP
Broaden your search. Replace lost-dog posters that have been covered, removed, or ruined by the weather. People have been reunited with lost dogs months after they have gone missing.
WHAT IF SOMEONE CALLS ABOUT YOUR DOG?
If a person you don’t know calls to say they’ve found your dog, request that they meet at a local park or dog run for the reunion. Bring a buddy along and be wary of anyone who asks for money to return your dog.
IF YOU SPOT YOUR DOG, DON’T RUN TO HIM
If your dog got lost because something scared him or if he’s been lost a long time, there’s a good chance he’s extremely frightened. Running towards him and hollering may spook him and set him dashing off again. Entice him to come to you. Say your dog’s name and call to him with friendly, familiar phrases. If you are near your driveway and your dog loves a car ride, open the car door and say “Let’s go for a ride!” or whichever phrase you would normally use. It’s also a good time to offer him one of those treats in your pocket. If your dog seems extremely skittish or fearful, sit down and pretend to be very interested in something on the ground. This unexpected behaviour can disrupt his fear and make him curious enough to approach you.
HOW TO PREVENT YOUR DOG FROM GETTING LOST AGAIN
WHAT TO DO AFTER YOU’VE FOUND YOUR DOG
When your dog is finally back in the fold, be wary of unloading the pent-up stress of the search upon your dog. Don’t yell at him or punish him. The impetus for his setting off in the first place is long forgotten, he may still be terrified after his ordeal, and he needs to feel safe and secure with his human again. Shower him with love and enjoy the sweet relief of your reunion.
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