A few days ago, Brooks and I found an adorable dog on the side of the road near our home. The little guy didn’t have any tags on, so there wasn’t a number to call. Of course I immediately thought about Lexi and Harley — what would I do if the unthinkable happened? What would I do if one of them was lost? They both have microchips, but what if they didn’t get picked up by someone who knew what to look for?
After speaking to several animal specialists, I learned that even the best of behaved dogs are curious creatures that can easily wander off. Here’s what the experts say to do if you find yourself in this unfortunate situation:
Remain calm. If you’re frantically calling out for your pet they might hide thinking they’re in trouble. Scour the area, calling out for your dog in a non-threatening voice. Send a mass text to friends in the area and/or post on your social media asking for people to come help if they can.
After two hours:
Post signs on both residential and main streets. Use neon paper or poster board. If you’re in an area with inclement weather, consider laminating the sign so people can still read it if it’s raining.
• A clear photo of your pet
• Detailed description of your dog (breed, weight, color, name, unique markings)
• Your cell phone number — not a landline. This way you can be reached right away.
• Consider offering a reward if found.
Call your local shelters, animal hospitals, groomers, kennels, veterinarians, pet stores, etc. to let them know your pet is missing, just in case someone brings them in. Most shelters update their websites hourly with photos of found dogs.
Talk to your neighbors and put everyone on alert so they can keep an eye out.
Post the same information from your signs to Craigslist, Nextdoor, Pawboost, or other neighborhood apps and sites. Post to your Facebook and ask your friends and family to share. Post to other social media, using popular hashtags such as: #lostdog #founddog #missing #yourcityname
After two days:
If your dog has been outside all this time, he or she is in survival mode. Experts say at this stage dogs aren’t likely to come when called, and might even retreat further. So if you see your dog, sit down on the ground and throw out some treats to draw them closer.
When you call your pet to you, do so with a high-pitched “Good boy!” or “Good girl!”
Lick your lips — in dog language this translates to a friendly hello. Who knew?!
Another great idea a trainer had is to take a small grill out to the area where your pet was last seen. Around dawn or dusk, grill some bacon or another fragrant meat. The scent could draw your hungry pet back.
When you’re searching for your pet, look for food and water sources. Do you have a neighbor who leaves their cat or dog food outside? Is there a river or small body of water where they might go for a drink? Check these places.
In the summer when it’s very hot, during the day most dogs will stay put in the shade making them hard to find. Check shaded areas such as under cars, behind bushes, porches, cardboard boxes, etc. The best time to search for them is in the early morning or after the sun goes down — when it’s cooler outside. They’re more likely to be roaming around.
My hope is that you never have to use this list. I’m always sending all my love to you and your furry babies.
Do you have excellent tips for finding a lost dog? Please leave them in the comments below.
What to do if you find a lost dog:
1. If it’s friendly, take it to your local vet or shelter.
2. If you’re not comfortable getting close to the dog, call your local animal control center and they’ll be happy to pick the dog up.
3. Remember, that dog is someone’s family member. Please don’t assume somebody else will help them out. If you see something, do something!