How Do I Find My Lost Dog?

Seniors Guide - 06/16/2021

For many dog owners, our beloved pet is a loved one that we cannot imagine living without. Unfortunately, there are occasions where dogs slip out of an unlatched door, dig under a fence, or yank away from a leash in pursuit of a squirrel, rabbit, or other fast-moving critter.

As soon as you know your dog is missing, you will likely beginning searching on foot, or driving around while looking for your dog from your vehicle. In additional searching your immediate surroundings, keep in mind that dogs can cover a lot of ground quickly. Be sure that you do not limit your search to just your street or your neighborhood.

In addition to looking on your own, there are several steps you can take to help locate your missing pup.

1. Reach out to local animal shelters.

Let them know that you have lost your pet, so that if someone finds and turns your dog in, they will be able to make you aware. A quick online search should let you know what shelters are nearest to you. Be sure to include any shelters or rescues within a 20-mile radius of your home. If you do not have an animal shelter close to you, call your police’s non-emergency number, and they may be able to offer some guidance for what to do in this situation.

2. Ask people in your neighborhood to keep an eye out for your pet.

Check with neighbors, postal carriers, or delivery drivers to see if your dog has been spotted. If you are affiliated with any neighborhood groups on social media, post about your missing pet with a recent picture, information about where your dog was last seen, and contact information for if it is found. As a member of a rural, agricultural community, I see many “lost pet” posts; and because of the widespread reach of social media, those pets are very frequently found and returned to their owners. If you do not have a social media account, it may be worth speaking with someone who does have Facebook, NextDoor, Reddit, or similar app to post for you.

3. Many people will take stray animals to a veterinary clinic, especially if they are hurt or hit by a car.

Make a flier, including a color photo and description of your dog, and take copies to nearby vet offices. If there is a bulletin board at the vet’s office, leave a copy of the flier; otherwise, give the information to veterinary staff to make note of any animal that comes in matching your pet’s description.

4. If your dog ran away from home, place food or familiar items – such as a blanket, toy, or bed – outside the door.

Fido could possibly just return home after a full day of adventures, and be ready for food and a warm bed.

BONUS: Track them down! The Whistle Go Explore location tracker attached easily to any collar and uses GPS to track pets wherever they are. The Whistle Switch Smart Collar is a collar that also uses GPS to help locate a pet, and fits any animal five pounds or larger.

5. How do I find my lost dog using a professional service?

Pet finder services, such as Lost My Doggie, help recover your dog; they can send alerts to nearby shelters and rescues, notify your neighbors, and even generate a missing pet flier. Although these steps can be completed on your own, a service like this may come in handy to expedite the process, or to assist you if you are unable to post on social media or make the necessary phone calls.

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” Benjamin Franklin once said. Simply put, you may not have to ask “how do I find my lost dog?” if you put up preventative measures! There are several options to increase your odds of finding your dog.

  1. If your dog has an adventurous streak and has been known to run off repeatedly, consider a GPS tracking collar, a tool that is frequently used with hunting dogs. Keep in mind that although these collars do have a limited range, you can set up alerts to notify you when the collar is going out of range, so that you will at least know that your dog is on the run.

  2. Be sure to microchip your pet, and add a yearly alert to your calendar to confirm with the registered microchip company that your contact information has not changed.

  3. Utilize a collar that is engraved with the pet’s name and your current address and phone number, in order to prepare for such a situation.

It is an awful feeling to be without your beloved pet, so take the steps that you can now. Hopefully, you will never lose your pet, but if you do, you will be better prepared for a happy ending!

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Kari Smith is a frequent contributor to Seniors Guide, helping to keep those in the senior industry informed and up-to-date. She's a Virginia native whose love of writing began as a songwriter recording her own music. In addition to teaching music and performing in the Richmond area, Kari also enjoys riding horses and farming.