Few things are more gut-wrenching than realizing your beloved dog is missing — and it can happen so quickly. In a split second, your dog could bolt through an open gate, or get spooked by fireworks and twist out of a harness. At first, you may be hopeful that your dog will return on her or his own, but if your pet doesn't and a quick search turns up nothing, you may start to panic. Don't. Instead, follow these tips on how to look for a lost dog:
If your dog is lost, your first instinct may be to call your dog's name loudly and repeatedly. Experts advise against this. Why? Because more than likely, you're feeling anxious and maybe even a little aggravated with your dog for running away. Your dog may misinterpret your tone for anger, so her or his immediate reaction might be to run away from you.
Search your immediate area
Before you head out on a wider search of your neighborhood, make sure to check your home and yard carefully. If your dog has been frightened — say, by a loud clap of thunder — he or she may take refuge under a bed, in the back of a closet, or under a bush.
Widen your search
If you can't find your canine in your home, start canvassing your neighborhood. Make sure to check out playgrounds, your neighbors' yards (especially if they own dogs), and empty lots. Carry your dog's leash, treats, and/or a favorite noisy toy. If you spy your dog, remember to remain calm and try to lure your pup to you with a treat or by squeaking a toy.
Post on social media
A quick way to get the word out about your lost dog is to post on Facebook and other social media apps, such as Nextdoor. Make sure to contact the Facebook pages of your community as well as those of local lost-and-found groups. You should also ask your friends and family members to share your post, which should include the following information:
Several photographs with different angles of your dog
The area in which you lost your pet
Time and date that your pet went missing
A description of any items your pet may be wearing, such as a collar
Your contact information
Always add "Do Not Chase" on your post
Put up lost dog posters
Lost and found posters may be old-fashioned, but they work. Use bright-colored poster boards to attract attention and include the same information that was mentioned above for social media posts.
Call your microchip company
If you can't find your dog after an initial search, make sure to call your pup's microchip company to verify your contact information. You'll want to ensure that anyone who finds your dog will be able to get in touch with you.
Check with animal control
One of the best tips for finding a lost dog is to check with your local animal shelters. It's possible that your dog was picked up by an animal control officer or a Good Samaritan and taken to a shelter nearby. The Humane Society recommends that you file a report with every shelter within a 15-mile radius of your home, as you never know where your pup may have been taken.
Keep your home accessible
If possible, have someone stay at your house while others are searching for your pet. Sometimes, a pet will wander back home if the door is left open. That person can also call off the search if your pet should return.
Hire a tracker
Finding a lost dog on your own is not always easy. For instance, a new rescue canine may not yet recognize you as a safe person. So, you may need to hire a dog tracker. These professionals use a variety of methods, including trained tracking dogs, feeding stations and/or safe traps in order to reunite you with your pet.
Preventive steps to avoid future lost dog incidents
Even the most obedient dog can wander off. It's best to prepare for the possibility by doing the following:
Have your dog microchipped
Keep treats and/or squeaky toys by the front door to use as lures
Fence in your yard
Keep an emergency leash by the door
Outfit your dog with a collar and ID tags with your contact information
For repeat escape artists, you may also want to do the following:
Hire a trainer to work on recall with your dog
Have your dog wear a GPS tracker
The good news is that most lost pets are eventually found. In fact, 93% of dogs that were reported as lost were recovered by their owners. So, don't lose hope if your pet wanders off. The odds are on your side that you'll soon have your beloved dog back home again. And don't forget - Figo policyholder pets get a unique tag that can be searched via our website and used to reunite you with your pup in case they go missing!
Lizz Caputo is a Content Strategist at Figo, animal enthusiast, and owner of a rescued senior American Bully. Her hobbies include checking out new restaurants in her area, boxing, and petting dogs of all shapes and sizes.