Lost and Found: What to Do When You’ve Lost Your Dog

Getting lost from your family members and friends is an experience no one wants.


But, at least we humans can vocalize our concerns and ask for help.

Can you imagine how scary it might be for your dog to be lost?


The truth is, you might only be able to imagine a fraction of what your dog experiences. 


But, losing a dog can be a scary and incredibly stressful experience for anyone.


The Holidays, especially Halloween, tend to bring a lot of noise and commotion, and a lot of people moving in and out of the home.

Peeking Lost Dog


As you could probably guess, this can skyrocket the chances of having your dog run away and get lost. 


However, to reduce the stress and make sure your dog is safe, there are some preventative measures you can put in place to make sure your dog gets home safely in case of an emergency.


But before we do this, lets address some important questions you might have before looking at how to prevent and what to happen in the event of your dog getting lost.

Why do dogs disappear?

Before we fully explore the preventative measures to stop your dog from getting lost, it’s vital you know situations where they might venture off. Mainly though, dogs often disappear due to the following reasons: 


  • Fear: Many dogs tend to run when they’re scared in unusual situations such as fireworks, thunderstorms, and loud noises. Moreover, if your dog is not socialized properly, they might run away out of fear of other dogs or humans.


  • Boredom: What do you do when you’re bored? Well, if you’re like us, you probably tend to procrastinate, which also applies to dogs. When dogs are bored and left on their own for a long time, they tend to walk off to find fun. Similarly, if they have lots of energy left to expel, they might wander off to use it up. 


  • Separation anxiety: If your dog is left on its own for a long time, it might become really distressed. For example, they could destroy household objects, cry, bark, and even run away in the hopes of finding you. 


  • Sex drive: There are chances that dogs might run away and become lost in the hopes of looking for a mate. As soon as a dog becomes sexually mature at 6 months, it might have a high sex drive and run away. 


Preventative Measures You Can Take NOW:

Microchip and Register

To save your dog from getting lost, microchipping them is one of the most efficient and reliable ways to ensure they’re safe. Once your dog is lost, your veterinarian will be able to scan and look up your dog’s information, all based on where the chip is registered. Therefore, if you plan to get your dog microchipped, it’s important you keep your contact details up to date. 


Collars and ID Tags

As equally as beneficial as microchips are collars and ID tags. If your dog wanders to another neighborhood and is found by the local neighborhood kids, you might just be a phone call away or a couple of doors down. 


A quick and obvious way to ensure your pet makes it home safe is to keep a collar and ID tag securely on with your phone number or full address. Some ID tags can now even track your pet with a GPS! While these can be expensive, they are an excellent solution for peace of mind and security.

Check the Perimeter of Your Yard

Old boards in fences come loose, or hedges might easily slip through. Do a check-up on your yard from time to time and make sure that there aren’t any holes starting to be dug under fences. Even if your dog isn’t a digger, some animals might have taken up a home in your yard and created an escape route for your pet. To ensure they’re safely kept inside, make sure the perimeter is solid from time to time.

Have a Plan

In any emergency, pre-planning is crucial. If your dog is lost, have the number of the company they are microchipped with ready in an emergency pamphlet, along with your vets’ number and the local animal shelters.

Smiling Lost Dog


What to do if dog is lost? 

  • Act NOW, don’t wait. The sooner you begin to get the word out that your pet has been lost, the better chance you have of finding them.
  • Utilize your Emergency Plan.
  • Notify the numbers on your plan, the local vets, shelters, and the company your pet is registered to have lost your pet. Check back in daily; these contact points will often be the first to know if someone has brought your pet to them or is lost. This will help a good Samaritan call over your pet if they are trying to capture them to return them home. 


Offer a reward in the ad, don’t state how much and your phone number. This will help encourage people to return your pet to you and you can decide later how much to offer as a reward. You can also place a “LOST” ad in your local newspaper if you still haven’t found them the following morning.

  • Go door to door or call your neighbors personally. Explain what your pet looks like if they’re unsure, or enlist them to help you distribute posters. The more people involved in the cause, the more successful you will be.
  • Get out and get calling. If possible, keep someone at home near where your pet escaped from. There is a possibility that your dog may return home on their own, so having someone to keep an eye out for is crucial. In the meantime, you can take to the streets and begin calling your pet as loudly as you can. It is best to do this on foot or on a bicycle for safety reasons, as it can be distracting to drive while looking for your pet. If you want to cover more ground, take your car with a passenger to be the lookout and drive carefully and slowly. This way, you can focus on driving, and your passenger has time to spot your dog in the neighborhood.
  • Post to Social Media! You’d be surprised at how many people will gather together to join the cause for a lost pet. Many pets have been found, surprisingly, through this form of communication. Spread the word and ask for support as much as possible.
  • Be cautious of scammers, and ask for a description or picture if someone claims to have found your pet looking for a reward. It can be tempting to throw yourself at these offers, but false hope may be devastating if they’ve found another look-a-like-pet or worse, they are lying to receive reward money and do not have your pet.
  • Most importantly, don’t give up! While time might seem daunting during this stressful time, keep on persevering. There are many community resources and people who can help; just keep getting the word out and checking in with shelters and vet clinics.

What are the chances of finding your lost dog?

If your dog gets lost, the statistics of finding it can vary based on the situation. Usually, most lost dogs are found within the first 24 hours. However, it can be a lot smaller, around 60%, according to the ASPCA. Therefore if your dog is missing, make sure that you report their absence to the local animal authorities and notify people on social media. 


How long can a dog survive if lost?

If your dog is lost, you might be surprised to know it could survive a lot longer than you think. Once they’re missing, their survival instincts can kick in, and they will look for food, water, and shelter to survive. If you live in a good neighborhood, many people might take your dog in out of concern to ensure it’s looked after. 


Be Prepared

Overall, if you’re a dog owner, you should be proactive in the potential event of your dog getting lost. One of the best ways to do this is to get your dog microchipped, dog collar, and a tag with your most up to date contact details. In addition to this, you might also want to make sure your yard is secure and come up with a potential backup plan if your dog gets lost. 


If your dog does get lost, utilize your emergency plan, post to social media, inform your local animal rescue and be wary of scammers. Do note that most dogs are found within the first 24 hours, and once they’re missing, their survival instinct does start to kick in. 

Found Lost Dog


Can dogs find their way home if lost?

Surprisingly, some dogs can find their way home due to magnetic fields. Dogs use their ability to detect magnetic fields to help guide them home. 


How far away can a dog smell?

Unlike us humans, dogs have a really strong sense of smell. Their smell is so strong they can detect people or objects up to 20km away. This all depends on how much air passes through their nose and how much they can pick up smells. 


Will a dog come back home?

After leaving their home, many dogs have a high chance of strolling back home after they’ve left. However, if your dog has run away in a state of panic, then the options of them returning to their own home are small. If your dog is in a panic, it’s more than likely they will run as far and fast as they can. 


Do dogs remember being lost?

While science has proven that dogs have memories and remember things, it can be challenging to detect if they’ve remembered being lost or specific events. 


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