It’s a nightmare come true, you’ve let your dog out for playtime in the yard but there’s a hole in your fence or the gate is blown open. The heart-wrenching panic begins to set in as you frantically check the backyard whistling and calling your dog’s name. But he’s not there, not in the yard, not just outside. He has run away and is lost and alone.
It’s easy to panic in this situation, but the faster you can begin searching and spreading the word, the more likely he is to come back. In honor of National Pet Identification Week, we’ll discuss some options for how to prevent a runaway, how to properly ID your dog and what to do if he does go missing.
Why do dogs run away?
There are several triggers to cause a dog to run. Some have a prey instinct that causes them to chase squirrels, cats, birds or other dogs. For some dogs it is so strong that they will dig under or climb over fences in order to continue their chase.
A high wind on its own can be enough to stress a dog out to the point of running. A storm could have startled him, while wind may have blown open the gate. There is also the off-chance that the package delivery service accidentally left the gate hanging open, or maybe the latch didn’t catch properly.
Some dogs will try to escape the house or backyard in an attempt to find their owner. Or, if they are new to the house/yard they may not be comfortable in the new environment. Moving or having someone dog sit can even spur a normally well-behaved dog to attempt an escape and run away.
How to prevent an escape
Check Your Fencing
The first thing to check is also the easiest thing to alter – the physical barriers used to contain your canine. Make sure no fence boards are loose and look for holes, elevated areas and gaps. Make sure to check both the inside and outside of the fence.
Add a Layer of Protection
If your dog is a digger, consider burying chicken wire to create an “L” shaped barrier next to your fence. This will prevent your dog from being able to dig under the fence without harming them.
A similar tactic can be used if your dog can climb or jump the fence. Create a bulwark of fabric or chicken wire that slightly extends over your yard. Another option is to purchase a Coyote Roller which makes it near impossible to hold on at the top of the fence.
Remember when building your physical security, if your dog is scared and you’re security isn’t placed properly they can be hurt in their attempt to escape. Above all else, make sure your dog is in a safe and stress free environment when they are left alone.
Try Something New
Perhaps, due to zoning, you can’t erect a physical fence in your yard. A great alternative is to install an underground wired fence – or if you would rather not dig – try a wireless option from Havahart® Wireless. Both fencing options require that you train your dog, but after he knows his boundaries you can feel at ease letting him out to play!
The best way to increase your chances of being reunited with your dog after an escape or natural disaster is to have proper identification; both attached to the dog and on-hand at home.
- Pet Identification Tag: It is recommended that all pets should wear a collar with an ID tag. Many states and counties already require your dog to have a license displayed on his collar at all times, but an additional ID with several forms of contact information for you would be best.
- Your tag should include:
- Your dog’s name
- Your name
- Your phone number(s)
- Your address
- A phone number of a friend or relative (grandparents, perhaps)
- Your tag should include:
- Microchip: Microchipping your dog is another great ID method – this way, if he has slipped his collar he may still be identified and brought back home.
- Photograph: Keep a current photograph of your dog at home to be distributed as flyers and also to be submitted to the local shelters with contact information. This will help increase the amount of eyes looking for your dog and prevent them from being placed in the shelter or pound without you being contacted.
- Social Media: Social media is a great tool to use in spreading the word about your lost dog. Facebook has a number of pages dedicated to finding lost pets, many of which will be specific to your area.
- Lost Pet Websites: LostMyDoggie.com is a great resource for posting your lost dog online. Having a recent picture is very helpful in this case. The site will also send out email updates to a network of people who will help keep an eye out for your buddy.
- Visit Pet Shelters: Contact your local pet shelters and rescues. Drop a poster off at each shelter location so they know who to look for. This is very important – there have been cases reported where dogs were already picked up by the local shelter and were there when their parents came to look for them.
A lost pet is a distressing situation, but remaining calm, searching and getting the word out is the best way to bring him back home.