It can happen in an instant. One minute, your dog is making his appointed rounds in your backyard or relaxing under his favorite shade tree. The next minute, you look out the window and he’s gone! You dash outside, frantically call out his name, and realize that your beloved pet is nowhere to be found. You jump in your car and patrol your neighborhood for hours, but your desperate search doesn’t produce a single clue.
A dog may decide to wander off for a number of reasons, such as boredom, loneliness or to search for a mate. In many cases, a dog will return home on his own within 24 hours. But if you’re like most pet owners, you’ll want to take immediate action to find your buddy as quickly as possible. Here are a few tips for locating a lost dog:
#1 Print, Hang and Distribute Flyers
Creating and distributing “Lost Dog” flyers is the most important thing you can do to find your dog. 90% of dogs are returned to their owners because of flyers. Flyers should include your pet’s photo, unique identifiers, description of temperament and what people should do if they spot your pet. Don’t forget to include your contact information.
Many internet services such as LostMyDoggie.com offer free flyer creation. Once flyers are printed, take flyers door-to-door in your neighborhood and speak to everyone in the area that you can, including home and business owners. When hanging flyers, be sure to encase them in report covers or photo album sleeves so they are not destroyed by rain or snow.
#2 Place Clothing, Water and Food Near the Area Where Your Dog was Lost
Find a piece of your unwashed clothing that you wore for at least a day and place it near the area where the dog was lost. This helps the dog pick up a familiar scent and encourages them to return to the area. Along with the piece(s) of clothing, you should also provide a bowl of water. Place food in the area where the dog was lost. The scent of clothing and food can encourage dogs to return to the area and food may convince them to stick around.
#3 Set up a Web Cam
If you have a laptop with a webcam, strategically place it within view of the area where your dog was lost. You can then stream the video to a public site such as Ustream so you can monitor it while you’re searching other areas. You can also request that friends and family keep an eye on the stream.
#4 Send out a Dog Amber Alert
Websites such as LostMyDoggie.com offer dog amber alert services. Similar to a law enforcement amber alert for missing children, alerts will be sent out to all participating businesses and animal shelters in the immediate vicinity. Alerts are distributed via fax and email. Many animal shelters and rescue organizations will then post the pertinent information on their Facebook pages and other social media networks.
#5 Place a Lost Dog Sign in Your Yard
Alert neighbors and passersby that your dog is missing by creating and placing a lost dog sign in your front and back yards. The sign should be large and include a description and contact information.
#6 Visit Animal Shelters
It’s always possible that a good Samaritan found your dog and took him to a local animal shelter. Enlist friends and family to contact all the shelters within a 50-mile radius and supply them with a photo or a flyer. Visit them as often as possible to see if your pet has turned up. Don’t wait for the shelter to contact you. With the large volume of animals that most shelters handle, it’s always possible for your dog to slip through the cracks.
#7 Contact the Police
Your local police department may be able to assist you in your search. It’s especially important to get law enforcement involved if you believe your dog may have been stolen.
#8 Use the Internet
Take advantage of the wide reach of the Web to expand your search. Place a post with an accompanying photo in the Lost & Found section of Craigslist, as well as sites dedicated to reuniting missing pets with their owners such as MissingPet.net and TheCenterforLostPets.com. Make a public post on your Facebook page with a photo of your dog, the location he was last seen, instructions on what to do if he is found and your contact information. Encourage family and friends to share the photo with their Facebook networks.
#9 Place a Newspaper Ad
While the circulation of many printed newspapers isn’t what it used to be, it can still be worth your while to purchase a classified ad in the paper’s lost and found section. There are still many households that are not connected to the Web. You may also contact local news organizations and ask them to post your lost dog flyer on their websites and social media networks.
#10 Create a Lost Dog Kit
If your dog has been lost before, or if you simply want to be prepared in case of emergency, keep a lost dog kit handy. Time is of the essence when a dog is lost, so being prepared can help save precious time. Do this by creating a lost dog kit and store in safe area. This kit can include premade flyers, photos and contact information for local animal shelters, rescues and veterinarians. You may also want to research local lost dog Facebook pages and keep a list of the page names should you ever need to post on them.
Preventing Your Dog From Running Away Again
Consider fitting your dog with a collar and ID tag, or have your veterinarian implant a scan-able microchip under his skin that contains your contact information. These steps can significantly improve the odds of a fast reunion.
By making your yard as “escape proof” as possible, you can also reduce the chances that your dog will run away. Installing our wireless dog fence can prevent him from getting out, and you won’t have to deal with the time and hassle involved with building a traditional fence.