It happens to all pet parents – the door gets left open, a leash breaks, or someone looks away for a second and your dog makes a run for freedom or a joy run! Sometimes your pet will return on his or her own, but other times you need to do a little searching. Fortunately there are some steps you can follow to bring a lost pet home.
Check the House
Dogs – especially smaller pets – can find some weird places to hide in your own house. Thoroughly check your house to see if your dog has squeezed into some tight space. Under the bed, behind appliances, and in cabinets, closets, and crawlspaces are all ideal hiding spots for your pet. Bring a treat around with you and call to your dog. If you do find your pet at this stage, give him or her some praise and a treat; make sure to block off this spot so your dog can’t get stuck or injured in the future.
- The first place outdoors an escaped dog will typically go is a favourite haunt: a place you may have taken your dog on walks or somewhere nearby that may be appealing to a dog, like an outdoor restaurant or a dog park.
- Take a walk around the block, asking any other walkers you meet if they have seen a dog matching your pet’s appearance.
- Check around dumpsters and under porches, continually calling to your dog.
- If he or she has a favourite squeaky toy or treat, bring that along as well.
- Get friends and family to help by walking different routes is the best option for finding your pet quickly.
- If your search is not successful, place your dog’s bed or some blankets on the porch; the scent may help your dog find his or her way home.
Reach Out to the Community
If your pet hasn’t returned home after a night:
- Call local animal shelters and veterinary clinics.
- Describe your pet in detail and if there is even a remote possibility they could have your dog; visit the shelter or clinic in person to check it out.
- Post flyers around your neighbourhood and local businesses
- Include a clear, recent photo of your dog
- Your pet’s name, gender, and age
- Coat color(s) and length
- Your phone number
However, keep any distinctive details to yourself; if someone calls claiming to have your pet, you can ask them to describe any unusual characteristics to check if the claim is true. If someone does respond to your posters claiming to have your dog, have them send a photo, if possible. Make sure to bring another person with you to pick up the pet and meet in a public place, for safety reasons.
Prevention and Precautions
- Make sure your pet always has ID tags with your current address and a working telephone number.
- Select a collar that is sturdy and weatherproof and won’t fray or slip off.
- Micro chipping your dog is highly recommended, as it allows vet clinics and animal shelters to identify your pet even without a collar.
- Never leave your dog unattended while he or she is off a leash and try to keep your pet within eyesight even when tied up.
A runaway dog is cause for concern, but in most cases your pet is not far from home. With fast actions, you can locate your dog within a few hours or days at the most. Always call local animal shelters and vet clinics to check your pet has not turned up there. Making “lost dog” posters with detailed information and a photo can be highly effective. Most importantly, don’t panic – your beloved pet will turn up eventually