How to Find a Lost Dog

Top Tips

What You Need to Know

  1. If your dog goes missing, first of all don’t panic. Stay in the same spot for a while as there’s a good chance your dog will return to the place you were separated.
  2. Try and keep calm and don’t sound panicked since your dog may not be able to recognise your voice or may get scared off.
  3. Get online and harness the power of the internet right away. Sites such as DogLost can help get hundreds, if not thousands of people, looking for your lost dog.
  4. Additionally, ask your friends and family, as well as the local police, milkman or postman to help you in your search.
  5. Launch a poster blitz, making sure you target the places your dog may have gone, as well as local dodgy pubs where stolen dogs might be traded.
  6. However, be aware that some local councils frown upon fly-posters, so think twice before you put posters up on public property.
  7. Don’t give up if you don’t find your dog right away. Online campaigns in particular can be kept alive for months, if not years, so keep at it!
  8. Our Top Tip for help to find your dog is your own missing dog page, or you can help other owners be reunited with their pets at DogLost.

Get Searching Right Away

If your dog goes missing, first of all don’t panic. Instead, the RSPCA advises that you stay in the same place for a little while since many dogs will return to that spot within a few minutes or a couple of hours. If, however, your dog doesn’t return to the place you were last together, then it’s time to get looking, though the RSPCA advises that, if you do leave the original place, you should leave a piece of clothing with your scent on it there and then try and leave a trail for the dog to follow. In the first few hours after your dog goes missing you should also;

  • Search in a triangular area. When they are lost, many dogs will move in a triangular pattern, so map a route out of the direction the dog could have taken and follow this. If possible, get a friend to follow the same route but in the opposite direction.
  • Keep calm. Above all, you should try not to shout your dog’s name anxiously as he or she might not recognise your voice, and even if they do, they may be worried they have done something wrong and so stay hidden.
  • Tell friends and family right away. It’s always useful to have as many eyes looking for a lost dog as possible, so get the word out right away.

Get the Message Out

Again, it’s a good idea to get as many people looking for your lost dog as possible, so don’t be afraid to ask around. After all, most people will be only too happy to help if they can. As well as friends and neighbours, it’s also a good idea to ask;

  • The local police. Sadly, but perhaps understandably, the police are unlikely to be able to offer much support, even if you suspect your dog has been stolen. However, try contacting the officer in charge of patrolling the area where your dog went missing, giving them a description (or better still, a picture) of your dog and your number and asking them to keep their eyes peeled for it.
  • Your local postman and milkman may also be able to offer some help. Again, get in touch with them and ask them if they could keep a lookout for your pet as they do their rounds.
  • Your local vet or animal sanctuary. Be sure to give them a description or picture of your lost dog and ask that they get in touch should an animal fitting its description be handed in to them.

At the same time as recruiting a team of local searchers, you should also try and make as many people as possible aware that your dog is missing. Posters are perhaps the most traditional way of doing this (never underestimate the number of people who will stop and read a missing pet poster, especially if there is a picture of the missing pooch), so it’s a good idea to launch a poster blitz as soon as you can. If you do go down this route, remember;

  • You should include as much information about your missing dog as possible, including its name, age, temperament, any health conditions that could be relevant, where he or she went missing, as well as your mobile phone number and whether or not you will pay a reward for your dog’s safe return.
  • Put as many posters up as possible, though where you place these is just as important as how many you put up. Obviously, put a good number of posters in the area right around where your dog went missing. Also, try and put some posters up within a 10, 20 or even 30 mile radius (the RSPCA advises that dog thieves rarely take stolen dogs more than 30 miles from where they were taken).
  • Supermarkets, veterinary practices, parks and ATMs are all good places to put posters. Additionally, if you think there’s a chance your dog was stolen, consider putting some posters up in or around some local, rougher pubs as dogs may be traded in such establishments.
  • Note, however, that local councils may prosecute for fly-posting, so think twice before you put your posters up on lampposts, telegraph poles or council-owned notice boards.

Make Use of the Power of the Internet

As soon as you realise your dog has gone missing, you should also consider harnessing the power of the internet to help you in your search. Indeed, websites such as DogLost are becoming an increasingly effective means of reuniting dogs with their owners. To get the most out of DogLost and sites like it, you should:

  • Include as much information about your dog as possible. One advantage internet postings have over paper posters is that you are able to share several pictures of your missing pet, improving the odds of someone recognising the animal.
  • Make use of the online forums. Even if they live in a completely different part of the world, people may be only too happy to share searching tips with you or even just send you words of encouragement. So, get online and start interacting with fellow users and be sure to post updates on how your hunt is going and thank everyone looking out for your dog on a regular basis.
  • Link your DogLost post to your social media networks, thereby making even more people aware that your dog is missing. The DogLost website, for example, allows you to share your posting on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ and you can also email the posting.

Don’t Give Up

If you don’t find your dog within a few days of him or her going missing, don’t give up. DogLost notes that there are often cases of dogs being reunited with their owners months or even years after going missing, so it’s important that you stay focused and determined.

Again, this is where going online has its advantages. While the local police and even the local vet may lose interest after a few days at most and while it may be difficult for you to carry out a long-term poster campaign, maintaining your search efforts online is relatively easy. Plus, given that the users of online forums tend to be pet-owners themselves, they will appreciate your anguish and will be happy to help out for as long s it takes.

Microchipping Your Pet

Getting your pet microchipped gives it the best chance of being identified and returned to you if it becomes lost or even stolen. Not only is it a quick and easy procedure (your dog will not feel any pain at all), but it’s also incredibly cheap and some local dog charities even offer microchipping for free.

Ask your vet about microchipping, or follow the link and read this short guide from the RSPCA.

Further Reading

  • Post your own missing dog page, or help other owners be reunited with their pets at DogLost.
  • If you’re in the market for a new canine friend read our guide to buying a puppy before making any decisions.
  • Some insurance policies will help you cover the cost of looking for a lost dog, but only in certain circumstances. Find out more with our guide to pet insurance small print and exclusions.

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