One of the most frightening thoughts dog owners have is what might happen if their cherished pet escapes through the front door, an open gate, or out of a loose collar. There are numerous preventive measures you can take to keep your dog from running loose, but it might get away despite your best efforts. These tips are a guide on what to do to ensure your dog has the best chance of making it back home safely. 

Preventive Steps 

A lost puppy standing on snow at sunny day in winter.Training your dog to come back to you when called – and reinforcing this command around distractions – can bring the dog running back to you the moment it gets loose. This won’t help if it finds its way through a hole in the fence, disappears when you’re not paying attention or breaks its training when you accidently leave the gate open. It’s important to take these steps ahead of time – just in case. 

Get an ID Tag 

The tag should include important contact information such as your address and phone number, your dog’s name and its rabies tags so anyone who encounters the dog knows it’s been vaccinated. If someone finds your lost pet, the hope is that they’ll contact you to let you know where to get them. 

Make Sure Your Dog’s Collar Fits 

You don’t want the collar to be so tight that it obstructs the airway, but it needs to be tight enough that your dog can’t wiggle its way out. Many people lose dogs on walks when the dog gets free of the collar and begins to run.  The sight of a cat or rabbit may activate their prey drive and break their training, so you need to know you can keep physical control. 

Microchip Your Dog 

The American Kennel Club recommends getting a microchip through a reputable microchip company so that if your dog goes missing, it can be returned to you once it shows up at a shelter or veterinarian’s office. If a stranger steals your dog and tries to take it to the vet as their own, the vet will be alerted once the chip is scanned.  

Train Your Dog Off-Leash 

You should choose locations with plenty of distractions that are enclosed, such as dog parks or grocery stores that allow you to bring pets. The more you work with your dog, the more reliable it’ll become in a situation where you need to depend on its recall. Taking time to train your dog’s recall skills can go a long way. 

What to Do When Your Dog Is Lost 

If your dog gets free, you need to take a deep breath, stay calm, and then act quickly. The first few hours are the most critical time period because your dog hasn’t had the opportunity to go too far.. The more people you can get to join your search party, the better. Call your family, friends and neighbors and have them watch for your dog and help search.  

Think of Where your Lost Dog Might Go 

When pets get loose, they may go to places they associate with good things. That means they could head in the direction of dog parks, sources of food or places you’ve taken them in the past. If you have others join the search with you, have them go one way while you head the other direction. Expanding the search area increases your odds of finding your dog, and it’s not efficient to have multiple people looking in the same places. 

what to do when your dog gets out - small longhair chihuahua

Try Not to Chase 

Loose dogs like to chase and be chased, so chasing your dog could make it run faster and farther away. Dogs will always outrun a human, so the best way to keep your dog in sight is to follow at a brisk walk or slow jog while carrying a treat or toy your dog loves.  Take their favorite treat bag and rattle it to entice them to come closer if they have a strong food drive.

Check Your Local Animal Shelter and Use Social Media to Search for Lost Dogs

When people find a lost pet, they might contact animal control, take it to a veterinarian or drop it off at a shelter. Contact the Humane Society and all the animal shelters in the area to see if your dog wound up in their lost and found section. Your local shelter can be on the lookout and call you if your dog shows up. 

Social Media has become very helpful in finding lost dogs because the search team instantly expands to hundreds of people depending on the size of your neighborhood.  Specifically, the neighborhood app: NextDoor has proven great results because it is confined to your neighbors.  Also,  community Facebook Groups have proven very helpful.   Also, if you post a reward, it may encourage others to look on your behalf even more so.  

Other Things to Keep in Mind 

Always have a photo of your dog so you can share the photo along with its breed and other identifying information. While you may be feeling intense fear over what could’ve happened to your dog, don’t panic. There’s a good chance that your dog will wander home on its own or that a friend will encounter it because it made its way to your house. 

What If You Find a Lost Dog? 

Whenever a pet encounters a new person, it may be standoffish or afraid. If you find a scared dog, be patient and let it come to you. Once you earn the dog’s trust with some food or treats and gain control, contact local shelters, social media groups,  and a veterinarian to see if anyone has been searching for the dog. Shelters and veterinarians can scan for a microchip to reunite the dog with its owner. 

Train Your Dog’s Recall Skills with The Dog Wizard 

The chance of your dog running away is greatly reduced if you teach it how to come on command with distractions. The Dog Wizard can help you train your dog in all basic obedience commands. Give us a call at (877) 585-9727 to learn more.