One minute they’re beside you, the next they are not. This horrible thought plagues every dog owner. Luckily, if you have a missing dog, there’s plenty you can do to make sure they come back safe and sound.
In The First Hour
Most dogs don’t like to wander far from their owners. If your dog has decided to go on a solo adventure, taking the following steps will increase your chances of finding them immediately.
A loud noise, empty stomach or a passing cat are just a few of the developments that could cause your dog to go walkabout. If you’re faced with an empty house and a missing dog, then we suggest to take the following actions:
- Take a walk around your immediate neighbourhood calling your pet’s name
- Make familiar sounds such as shaking a packet of your pet’s favourite treats
- Look in surrounding gardens, garages, sheds and check with neighbours
- If you live in a rural area, check fields, paying attention to rabbit and badger holes
While out walking
If your dog slips their lead or runs off after being spooked by another animal, take the following steps instantly:
- Call and whistle for them, shake a packet of their favourite treats (if you have them)
- If you’re on a familiar walk, go back to places you know your dog likes
- Give your phone number to fellow dog walkers who might encounter your lost pet
- Dogs are good at finding their way home so check back at your car
Within the first day
If you don’t find your dog in the first hour, don’t worry, there’s still plenty of things you can do to ensure their safe return.
Who to contact
The first place to contact is local kennels and dog rehoming centres to see if anyone has been kind enough to hand your pet in. If that’s not successful, try getting in touch with vets and dog charities in your local area.
Get a recent photo
Before you continue the next phase of your search, find a recent photo. When you’re out looking for your pet, this will save you from having to describe them to everyone you see. If you can’t find a recent picture of your dog, the next best thing you can do is use one that displays the same breed, helping to jog people’s memories.
Use your social networks
Using the recent photo of your pet as a visual cue, let all your Facebook and Twitter friends know that your dog has gone missing. Those that live in your local area will be able to help with the search or at least keep an eye out for your wandering pet. Those that don’t live close to you can still be useful by sharing or retweeting your post to help spread the word.
The next day
If you’ve looked everywhere within the local areas and still haven’t found your dog, do not give up hope. Dogs have excellent homing instincts and could still yet make their own way back home. In the meantime, there are still steps you can take to aid the search.
Create a missing poster
This is a logical step, but there are several ways you can increase the effectiveness of making a missing poster. Include a photo, your contact details, a description of where they went missing and include a reward. When offering an award, the trick is to not specify an amount: if the reward is too low, people might not bother looking; if it’s too high, they might believe the dog is valuable and could try to sell it.
Placing your missing poster
Think about the areas within your local community where the most people are likely to see your missing poster. Try community centre and supermarket bulletin boards, parks, telephone poles and pubs in your local area. If you can, give copies of your missing poster to family and friends in the local area and ask if they can hand them out.
Lost and found websites
In addition to creating a missing poster, check all the lost and found publications you can think of. For example, you can try community pages on social media networks, your local newspaper or sites dedicated to finding missing dogs such as doglost.co.uk.
What to do when they come back
When your dog comes back, make sure that you give them a warm welcome. Making sure that your dog’s microchip registration details are up to date can help you find your dog more easily the next time you lose them. If your dog isn’t already micro-chipped then get this done immediately so that you are able to find them easily should they wander off again. If they escaped from home, you may also want to make sure your garden is secure before you let them out again, or look into areas around the home that they managed to slip out from.