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Searching For Your Lost Pet

The number one rule is not to lose your dog at all by being careless. Maybe you’re tired and just don’t want to take your dog for a walk in the rain so you just let them out the door “for a second” while they go potty. Don’t do it!

Always keep a pet on a leash – use one of those retractable ones if they need to clear the porch or front steps. Even the most well-trained pet will run when it spots a creature that looks like fun or bolt if something scares it. Pets do get lost though, so here are a few tips on searching for your lost pet.

Immediately put out food, water and your dog’s bed or toys or an article of your clothing at the location where they were last seen. Dogs will often return to scents and areas they know.

Start your search the second you know your pet has gone missing and remember to  

  • Take a leash and collar with you
  • Enlist the help of a friend or neighbor
  • Keep in phone contact with someone while you are doing the initial search. Let’s face it – even the most safe neighborhoods aren’t always that safe. Make sure someone knows where you are and what you are doing.
  • Knock on doors around the neighborhood to see if anyone has seen your pet. You’d be surprised at the number of neighbors that frequently look out their windows and see a pet strolling down the street but don’t want or can’t get to that stray. Don’t be judgmental that they didn’t try to do something – just get the information about when they saw your pet and what direction it was headed.
  • If you have other pets, take those pets with you. Most animals will come to you more quickly if they recognize a scent or you have their “sisters or brothers” with you.
  • Carry treats or toys that your pet loves. Rattle the bag or squeak the squeaker frequently to draw the pet’s attention. Carry an open can of wet food or an open can of tuna with you. Dogs and cats have great sensory organs and will recognize the scent of food.
  • If you see the pet – do NOT chase it. Instead keep your eye on it without making direct eye contact and sit or kneel down on the ground.
  • Call the pet’s name, squeak the squeaker, rattle the treat bag, let it know you have food and get the animal to come to you.
  • Toss out some of the treats bringing the dog closer and closer to you. If it is on the opposite side of the street, do NOT call the pet’s name until you are on the same side of the street – we definitely don’t want your sighting to turn into an accident.

When animals are scared, or perhaps injured, they will often seek shelter in places like under decks, in sheds, under cars, etc. Ask permission if someone is home to search their property and look closely with a bright flashlight. Scared animals will jam themselves into very tiny spaces to avoid being found. Check and recheck these spots.

One of the most common misconceptions about looking for a lost pet is that they will run to you immediately. Most animals take on a fight or flight stance after being on their own for as few as a couple of hours. They will respond to their own needs (water, food, shelter) and may not even recognize you. It’s not that they don’t love you – it’s just a basic dog instinct and one that should be remembered.