Lost Dog Tips

If your dog strays from home, it can be a devastating experience for both you and your dog. Here are some top tips and best practices. You should act immediately because the longer you wait, the further away your dog can travel and the higher probability they could get injured.

Never give up and try as many possible things as you can think of to locate your lost dog.

First, make sure you have properly searched your OWN home to confirm your dog is not just hiding somewhere. Make sure to check any garages, basements and sheds on the property, even if you don't think your dog could have gotten in there. Pets can get into some very strange and small places. Look behind, under and inside all appliances such as washing machines, stoves, refrigerators. For cats, make sure to check in attics, on the roof or roof gutters, and up in trees.

Search your neighborhood, knock on doors and talk to all your neighbors. Leave a phone number with them in case they find your dog later. Walk, ride a bicycle or drive slowly through your neighborhood and make some noise while you go around the neighborhood (call the pet's name also). Animals can hear you from very long distances. Bring your pets favorite things with you, a "squeaky" toy or favorite treats and rattle them loudly while calling your pet's name. It's also important to stop regularly, be quiet, and listen to see if your dog is making any noise. Sometimes they may make a noise in reply, or they may be hiding somewhere whimpering or barking.

Post flyers at intersections, around your neighborhood and on car windows. Place signs within a 2-mile radius of where your dog was lost. You can also post signs at grocery stores, pet stores, vet offices, and apartment complexes. Don't put your name or address on the flyer, but make sure there is contact info such as a phone number and/or email address. Put a color photo preferably and include the date and where the dog was lost as well as a couple distinguishing marks. Don't include all distinguishing marks, withhold some marks and characteristics so if someone does call you can verify that they found your dog by telling you some distinguishing marks. Include the breed of dog or cat, sex, age, weight and color, use bright colored paper for higher visibility. Give copies of your flier to people that walk their dogs in the area. They're more likely to spot animals than most people. If you go to the parks early, you may find people who regularly walk their dogs together as an informal group.

Go to all the local shelters within a 20-mile radius and the government agencies charged with picking up stray and lost animals and look for yourself, at least every other day. Calling the animal control department or shelter on the phone is not very effective. Your pet may not yet be listed in the records at the front desk, and the way you describe your pet may not be the way a shelter describes your dog or pet. Any animal may become dirty, matted and neglected looking very quickly, and you must visit the shelter, even if your dog was wearing tags when it was lost. You should go to the shelters at least every other day. Few shelters can keep animals for more than 72 hours. Sometimes it takes more than a few days for a dog to be picked up and brought to a shelter. It's important to visit all the shelters within 20 miles of where your pet was lost. In many areas stray animals are picked up by a government agency which holds them for a period and then turns them over to a shelter. If someone took your dog in for a few days hoping you would knock on their door and ask about it, they might later drop your dog off at the shelter that's most convenient for them, rather the one that's closest.

Contact veterinary clinics both in your area and surrounding areas. An animal could have been injured, rescued and taken out of the area in any direction for some distance so check them thoroughly and often.

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