Dog Care

Bring Them Home: Necessary Tips To Find Your Lost Dog

Bring Them Home: Necessary Tips To Find Your Lost Dog

Written By Meredith Kavanagh

Sep 8, 2016

If your pup isn’t answering your call, the first thing you should do is make sure you’re actually dealing with a lost dog — not just a hiding dog. I know you’re scared and want to start looking for your furbaby as soon as possible, but save yourself some grief by double checking your entire house and yard first.

Sometimes our pets can wiggle into spots they can’t get out of — so check beyond their usual lounge areas. Look underneath beds, between fences, or in basements. They may be trapped in a spot where you can’t hear them, or they can’t bark, so make sure to examine your whole home.

lost dog hiding under table

Once you’ve thoroughly checked your property, follow these next steps.

How To Find Your Lost Dog

  1. Determine how they escaped. By figuring out how  and when your dog escaped, you can gain insight into why they escaped. If they simply ran through an open door, maybe they caught a hot scent and can be found chasing a squirrel down the street. But if all entrances were closed and your dog jumped the fence, chewed through their leash, or took other extremes to escape, then they may have run away due to hormones (if they’re not spayed or neutered) or boredom.  In these situations,, dogs are likely to run further than a pup simply following their nose to your neighbor’s BBQ.

  2. Check the microchip. If your lost dog is microchipped, contact the company to alert them that your dog is missing. Work with the company to send out alerts to all authorities so that your local veterinarian, shelter volunteer, or police officer knows to scan a stray pup for a microchip.

  3. Get the word out immediately. Text or call neighbors, family, and friends. Many lost dogs have been found after their photo was shared among friends on social media. The more people you have keeping an eye out for your pooch, the better chances you have of finding them.

  4. Call local shelters and veterinary clinics. Notify all local and neighboring shelters, vets, or animal control teams that you are searching for this dog. Many stray pets are brought in every day, it’s crucial to have a clear, recent photo of your lost dog. Stop by shelters and clinics in person to remind employees that you are desperately hoping to be reunited with your pet. This will urge fellow animal lovers to go the extra step in helping you find your lost dog.

  5. Make a lost dog flyer.
    Create a lost dog flyer with a recent photo, their name, distinctive markings, and your contact information. First, upload the flyer to your social media accounts and share with friends and neighbors. To expand your reach, tag local shelters, clinics, or police departments and request that they share the flyer as well. You want as many eyes as possible to see your lost dog and know that the wandering pup has a loving home.
  1. Canvas the neighborhood. After you’ve sent out your lost dog flyer online, get to work the old fashioned way. Travel along routes you would take your pooch for walks, knock on doors, and stop by parks to pass out flyers. As you make your way around the neighborhood, call out to your lost dog by name. If there is any special whistle that they may recognize, be sure to try that, too.

  2. Stop by local businesses. In today’s digital age, not many people will open the door for a stranger  for fear they are a salesman or religious zealot. If you are running into dead ends, head to local businesses and ask that they post your lost dog flyer. Speaking with someone face-to-face makes a stranger more inclined to help you, and if your flyer is posted not at several shops in the area, people will notice.

  3. Use pet recovery resources. If it has been more than a few days since you last saw your dog, you may need to expand your search. Continue to utilize social media, and take advantage of other online resources, such as Helping Lost Pets, Fido Finder, or Lost Pet USA.

  4. Don’t give up.  We know it is emotionally and physically draining to search for a lost dog. Our pets are members of our families, and there is no easy way to face the possibility that they aren’t coming back. But if you hold onto hope and continue to spread the word, stop by shelters, and make sure that you do all you can to find your lost pup, then you have a better chance of being reunited.

There are many reasons that a dog may wander from home. They may be chasing a scent, or maybe they’re too curious for their own good. But if your pup ran away due to mistreatment, neglect, boredom, or one of the more serious causes listed, then they are going to be much tougher to find. 

lost dog flyer
Use this lost dog template by Pet FBI

Tips To Help You Find Your Lost Dog

  • You should always have recent, clear photos of your dog to share with others. If your pup ran away without their tags, or somehow lost them, having a photo that shows distinctive markings can make all the difference.
  • When you are out looking for your pup, bring a flashlight to search under cars, decks, or in deep bushes.
  • Remember that most pets are frightened once they realize how far from home they’ve wandered. Instead of yelling for your dog to “COME NOW,” remain calm, sit on the ground, and gently call them over. Also, carry treats to help lure them out if they are being particularly stubborn.
  • Contact your local Humane Society. Many chapters have lost and found services to help connect lost pets with their families. If an older citizen found your pet, they may not have the wherewithal to use social media, but the Humane Society might be their first stop.

sad lost dog

What To Do If You Find A Lost Dog

If you happen to wake up to a furry friend on your doorstep, don’t take it as a sign from the fluff gods that you are meant to have a puppy. Remember that it’s very likely that there is a loving family who is looking for this pup. Only 16% of lost dogs are returned to their families, so it’s important that you know what to do if you find a lost dog. 

First, make sure that the animal is safe to be taken into your home or car. Remember that they are probably frightened, so speak to them with a calm tone. 

Next, call your local shelters, vets, animal control shelters, police departments, or Humane Society. If you are unable to keep the pet in your home, request that someone come to pick them up. If you don’t mind holding onto the furry traveler, check for tags to alert the shelter or contact the pet owner.

Even if there is no report of a missing pet, take the lost dog to a shelter where they can scan for a microchip. You may have found the dog as soon as they left their yard, before their owner even realized they were gone!

lost dog

Be Wary Of Lost Dog Scams

Sadly, there are people out there who will try to take advantage of you during this rough time, so you should be wary of pet scammers. If you are offering a reward, you may get a phone call from someone who is “from out of town” and requesting you wire them money so they can send your dog back. This is highly unlikely. Ask them to meet you in person. If they seem genuine, ask for a photo of your dog.

If someone contacts you and says that they have your pet, be sure to ask specific, somewhat tricky questions about your pet’s appearance to be sure that they’re telling the truth. If you’re still unsure, use a people search engine to find out who they are and if they have any red flags in their past.

If you’ve arranged to meet up with someone who claims to have your lost dog, ask them to meet you at the police station. If they refuse or seem nervous, they probably never had your dog, but are just looking to set up a scenario when they know a person is carrying a large amount of cash.

Do you and your wandering pup have a joyful reunion story? Share with us in the comments!