You woke up this morning, and found your dog's bed empty. You realized there is no need to walk today, or make food. The house felt empty, and cold.
It's been over 24 hours since your dog got lost, and he/she is still not back.
You have been searching in every place you could imagine, shouting her name over and over again. You broke your head trying to figure out where she could have gone.
You might be thinking that if you don't find her soon, you never get to see her again.
I assure you, your chances are not as bad as you think, and we have some great ways to increase them even further.
Let's waste no time and get started.
What are your chances?
The ASPCA did a survey covering the entire USA and concluded that 93% of lost dogs are reunited with their owners.
Be aware: That is the average and includes dogs that are found just hours after going missing. As time goes on, the likelyhood of a dog being found reduces.
After 24 hours, the chances of finding your dog are more like 55%-65% (if you would just passively wait for it to come back)
But you can greatly increase those odds if you take the right action.
How To Get Your Dog Back As Soon As Possible?
This question has probably been on your mind a lot.
That is why we have accumulated the best advice for finding lost dogs we could find. These tips are from vets, dog trainers, pet detectives, and family/friends. Thousands of people have used them with great effect
1) Stop Searching For a Moment
You need to divert some time to increasing your reach!
One person alone cannot cover much ground. You need more people on the lookout, and the following tips are going to do that.
But you can't mobilize a search army while also running around in the woods or neighborhood.
So step back for a moment, take a deep breath, and read the following tips with as fresh a mind as you can.
2) Put Up Flyers And Ads
This might seem like a no-brainer but you want to make sure you have done it right. If you think that flyers are too old-fashioned to work, think again.
These work when you use them right.
You are after two things; to get your flyers seen by the right people, and for them to recognize your dog when they see it. Make sure to print a good amount of flyers, at least a 100, so that you don't need to waste time reprinting.
Make your flyers stand out as much as possible. The best way I found is to use very large fonts, and bright colors.
Place your flyers at eye height, in well lit areas. You want to cover at least the areas where a lot of your neighbors go (shopping malls, parks, etc), and the place where your dog ran away. If your dog ran away before, you can also go for the area where he/she was found again.
3) Use Social Media
Social media are a powerful way to reach people. The key to success here is to get in front of the right audience and at the right time.
Post on your own profiles that you lost your dog, and add as much information as you can. Don't forget to use the most recognizable pictures and hashtags like #lostdog #goldenretriever #pittsburgh #centralpark.
Ask your friends to share the post. Local groups can also be a good place to get the word out.
4) Contact the Local Shelters
Contact every animal shelter and rescue in a 20 mile radius where you lost him/her. Ask them if they have found your dog. If they haven't found it, ask them if you can place one of your flyers.
To find the shelters, you can use Google or see the website of the ASPCA.
5) Contact The Local Vets
This is very similar to point 5 except for vets. Some people might bring a lost dog to their local veterinarian or report it there. And a lot of dog owners will come here.
If you call every vet in the area you will at least know if they heard or saw anything. The best thing to do however is ask them if they will print a copy of your flyer and hang it in the waiting room. You might have to insist a bit here and really stress how much you want your dog back.
If you can get it, you have another great way to reach animal minded people.
6) Contact Your Neighbors
Most dogs get found in the area they were lost. So alerting people in that area will greatly increase your chances. And the most universal way to reach people is still by phone.
The first thing to do, is call everyone you have as a contact.
But you probably don't have every neighbors as a contact. So reaching out further is a little harder.
One way is to use a reverse address lookup like Spokeo. This will let you find phone numbers of people living at certain addresses.
But you will have to pay to get the information. Spokeo charges $0.95 per number so this can get expensive fast.
7) Issue a Pet Amber Alert.
Have you ever heard of a pet alert?
It's like an amber alert for dogs: A team of specialists will quickly run an awareness campaign for your dog. They create posters, use social media, call shelters and vets, and reach out to your neighbors.
You will save valuable hours, even days, compared to doing everything yourself.
All the while, you do what you do best: Searching for your dog, and connecting when you find it.
We have researched the companies that provide this service and there is one that stood out: lostmydoggie.com
- 75,000 pets found since 2009 and only 5 star reviews
- They helped two of my friends get their dogs back.
- They offer different packages depending on your budget. (we would recommend the Bark package because it includes the neighbor calling service)
8) Narrow Down Your Search Area
You probably have been searching for your dog already, and have noticed how much time it takes to cover any area. So it's extremely effective to cross off areas.
Sit down with a pen and paper, and ask yourself; what do I know about my dog that might be relevant?
Some questions that you can ask are: was my dog lost before, and how did I find it again? What things is my dog attracted to? Are there any other dogs that he/she likes to spend time with?
Once you start writing some of these things down, you will get a better idea of where to look. It can be helpful to get a paper map and decide on areas that your dog will very likely avoid.
9) Search At The Right Times
When dogs are alone, their natural instincts will come back and cause them to be most active during dusk and dawn. Search in the most likely places during these times.Make sure to bring a powerful flashlight. With a good flashlight, you can illuminate a much larger area and spot a dog. It will also help you get around in outdoor areas and keep you save from tripping over things.
10) Don't Chase Your Dog
If you find your dog but he or she starts moving away, don't run or walk in pursuit! This is very counter-intuitive but very important!
Chasing your dog can scare him/her off!
When a dog is lost and alone for 24 hours it can get stressed and anxious. The dog just wants to be safe and avoids anything remotely scary. It doesn't mean that the dog hates you.
If you do go chasing the dog, you can easily scare it. Some dogs become so traumatized that they never want to return to people at all.
11) Place food and Familiar items in the area where he/she got lost.
Dogs are naturally good at tracking. And when they find get lost, they fall back on this amazing skill to track their own trail!
When they do, they can end up in the car park where you left. If your dog doesn’t find you there, it will leave, and your chance of finding it is even lower.
If your dog finds familiar smells and some water, it will stay in the area.
Then you go and check this place, at least once a day, and during different times. Because dogs are strongly habitual: if you always check at the same time, you could just be missing each other.
Optional: Use A Bloodhound
It makes sense to use a dog in order to find a dog.
And bloodhounds are the best dogs for finding things. If you live in Florida you should contact my friend, and award winning bloodhound handler, Landa Coldiron. She has several specialized dogs for finding lost pets (including dogs) and she has helped over 180 people be reunited with their pet.
That's It; Don't Forget To Focus And Stay Positive
Getting upset and feeling bad will not help you get your dog back. This is a bit harsh, I know. But you are really better off with staying positive and doing everything you can. Many dogs get lost every day, and many are found. Look for what you can do, and do it!
I sincerely hope that you will find it as soon as possible!
Is It Your Fault That Your Dog Ran Away?
You might be feeling guilty or wondering if you are to blame. Did your dog no longer like you? Should you have kept him/her on the leash? Should you have avoided that area where you know there is a lot of game?
Please don't blame yourself!
There are so many reasons why your dog ran away. And you can never know exactly what is going to happen. Your dog doesn't hate you, or want to live somewhere else. He/she will be just as happy as you to get reunited.
How To Prevent it From Happening in the First Place
Let's make sure that you never have to go through this again with some prevention measurements. Many pet owners know the importance of collars and tags. One reason is the presence of collars and dog tags will let anyone who sees the dog know he is not a stray. A second reason is they can contain identifying information so a rescuer will know who to call and how to contact you.
Tags and collars are not enough to keep him safe. These products do not provide protection from traffic accidents and other accidents, or from individuals who steal dogs. Fortunately, there is another product you can purchase that will significantly increase his safety, and help you find him before a tragedy occurs: A GPS dog tracker, or GPS tracking collar.
Read our article on best GPS trackers for dogs to find out how these work, and which are our best recommendations