Dogs are escape artists. It doesn’t matter how many locks you put on the gate or whether your dog wears a collar: she will find a way out of the yard. Sure, you may have never seen her jump over the fence in all her years of living with you, but one day, suddenly there she is, running down that busy street without a care in the world. If this happens to your dog, it’s important to act fast and follow these steps so you can stay calm and find your furry friend as quickly as possible!
If you’ve lost your dog, here are a few things you can do to find her.
You should remain calm. If you are stressed out, it will be harder for you to think clearly and make good decisions. If you panic, it’s even more likely that your dog will get lost forever.
Noticing the right things can help make finding a missing dog much easier. For example, is the area near your house familiar? Can you remember what type of neighborhood this was? Has there been any construction here recently? Did anything change in recent weeks or months that might have made it less recognizable than before (such as new construction)? Did anything recently move in nearby—such as a new dog park or playground—that may have attracted more activity here than normal?
It is important to remain calm.
The first thing you should do if you lose your dog is to remain calm. Do not panic, and do not make the situation worse by running around aimlessly or yelling and screaming. This will only cause more confusion for your dog, and will likely cause them to become even more lost than they were before!
Similarly, crying and getting angry at yourself or anyone else is also not helpful in this situation. Your dog does not understand why you are upset, so it makes no sense for them to run away from home if they think that this will make their owner feel better about losing them!
Call animal services.
To start, you should call the local animal services. This could be your local police department, animal shelter, humane society or rescue group. They will likely give you some information about what to do next and will be able to put you in touch with the next available officer who can help you search for your dog.
You may also want to call the regional office or main office of animal control and let them know that your pet has gone missing so they can keep an eye out for him as well.
A microchip company can scan your dog’s chip and tell you whether she’s been reported stolen or lost as they keep a national database. In most cases, animal services will contact the microchip company to see if your dog has been found. Consider visiting animal hospitals in your area to ask if they have had any dogs come in recently that match your description.
Get help from your neighbors.
If your dog is lost, it’s good to get help from your neighbors. They may be able to spot him or her more easily than you can.
If you have a picture of your dog, it’s worth showing the picture to them and asking them to call you if they see him or her.
You should also explain what your dog looks like in as much detail as possible so that they know how to describe their sighting of the animal if they do see it (for example: “My dog has brown fur with white markings on his chest”).
It’s also worth putting up signs in your neighborhood with a photo of your dog and contact information. You may even want to consider offering a reward for anyone who finds them.
Use social media.
If your dog is missing, the first thing you should do is post on social media. Use your dog’s name and breed and include a good-quality photo of it. Make sure to use relevant hashtags in your posts such as #lostdog, #lostdog911, #findmypet, or #findourpet. Post on Facebook groups for local businesses and communities (such as “Burbank pet lovers” or “North Hollywood dog parks”). You can also find local news groups that cover animal stories; these are great places to share information about lost dogs. If there are any local pet supply stores with Instagram accounts, mention those as well!
Finally—but certainly not least—if there are any local dog training groups in your area (whether they’re private or through shelters), reach out to them too!
Post flyers with your dog’s picture.
You’ve already posted a notice on Facebook and every group you’re a member of, but it’s time to get serious.
Posting flyers is a great way to help people in the area where your dog was last seen know that he or she has gone missing. If you think your dog may have wandered into another neighborhood or town, post the flyer there too! Pet stores are often willing to take flyers off your hands, and this way other pet owners will be aware of your lost canine companion.
You can also post flyers in the areas where you think your dog might be heading—like if he was headed toward home when he ran off—and in places where you think he may be hiding out temporarily (like under someone’s porch). Veterinary clinics are also very busy places, and many times vets will put up posters with pictures of animals who were brought in by concerned owners. Ask your vet if you could visit their veterinary office in order to drop off some flyers.
Make sure your contact details are visible on the flyer. Include your phone number, email address, and/or physical address. It’s best to include all three because you never know when someone will need to contact you urgently.
Check local shelters.
Stray animals often end up at animal shelters. This is where they’ll be taken if no owner comes forward to claim them. Shelters usually keep dogs for two weeks before releasing them into new homes.
If you’re lucky, your dog may have already been found and taken to a local shelter. Call the local shelters to see if your dog is there. If you find them, go get them immediately! If not, keep checking back until they’ve been found. And once they’re home safe with you again, be sure to update the shelter with the status of your lost dog so that they can continue searching for their owner (and give other people an opportunity).
Hopefully, you’ll find your dog soon. If you do, let other people know so they can stop looking for her. Also, make sure to update your information with your local authorities and get a GPS collar for her so you don’t have this problem again! This can be quite a traumatic experience for everyone involved, especially if your dog gets hurt or dies while trying to find his or her way home.