can you find a lost dog after 24 hours

Dog Lost For 24 Hours: What are Your Chances of Finding it?

​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.

After 24 hours, ​the chances of finding your dog are more like 55%-65%, if you don't do anything and just wait.

​But if you want to increase those odds, you will need to take fast and decisive action. Because the longer your dog is out there, the longer she will be exposed to all kinds of dangers:

  •  Getting hit by cars
  • Wild animals
  • ​Hunters
  • ​Getting sick from eating poisonous plants or rotting meat.

​​What To Do ​To Get Your Dog Back ​Quickly, And Beat The Odds?

​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. We got these tips from family, friends, and dog enthusiasts. 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. 


  • ​​​​Take a deep breath
  • ​​Step back for a moment
  • ​​And read the next tips with a fresh mind. Don't forget the details make all the difference.

​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. ​Maximize the effect of your flyers with the tips below.


  • ​​​Make sure you use the clearest pictures of your dog, showing the full body and ​multiple angles
  • ​Use a large font and bright colors. ​Don't try to be subtle here, make them as loud as possible.
  • ​Place the posters at eye height on lamp posts or trees. ​
  • ​Place them where you last saw your dog
  • ​Place them ​in busy areas like (shopping areas, malls, parks, etc
  • ​If your dog ran away before: place them where you found him/her

​3) Use Social Media

use social media to increase the chances of finding your lost dog after 24 hours

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. 


  • Hashtags will help people find your posts.
  • ​Search for Facebook groups of people that live in that area and post there. 

​4) Contact the Local Shelter

dog behind fence in dog shelter

​You might have done this already. If not then do it as soon as possible. When people find a dog they will often bring it to the local shelter. If you lost your dog far away from home then contact the shelter in that area

​5) Issue a Pet Amber Alert.

use a pet amber alert to find your lost dog

​​As we said before, time is the enemy here. You need to do a lot of things, all at the same time.

What if you could have a team of professionals calling neighbors, shelters, and posting on Facebook to alert people your dog is missing?

While they use their experience and resources to alert as many people as possible, you can do what you do best; Determine where to look, and attract your dog to come to you.

Making smart use of a service like this will let you both:

  • Win back some of the time you lost
  • Focus on your strength - ​using your knowledge to look for your dog.

​After researching the various companies that offer this service we highly recommend ​using

  • Their service found over 75,000 dogs since 2009
  • They really helped out two of my friends (over 400 neighbors alerted in 2 hours, and dog found the next day).
  • Their friendly staff and respectful approach are very much appreciated during this stressful time.
  • They are certified by ASPCA -PETA and have dozens of 5 star google reviews.
  • ​Tip: the free option is great, but the "neighbor alert" and Facebook “amber alert” ​are far more effective. ​If you can spare $50 to $100, I would ​go for that.  

​This is just a suggestion, you can use a different company if you want. Whoever you choose, please don't underestimate the power of this type of service. ​It's like expanding your team. While you are searching, they are alerting people in the area. 

​6) Narrow Down Your Search Area

narrow down the search area for your lost dog

​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. 

Stop searching for just half an hour and sit down with a pen and paper. Ask yourself the following questions: 

  • ​​Did my dog escape before?
  • And where was he/she found?
  • Does my dog have a lot of energy and like to walk/run?
  • Is my dog in heat? Or are there other dogs in heat around my place?
  • What things frighten my dog?
  • What things does my dog like to do?

​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.

​7) Search At The Right Times

search for lost dog at the right time

​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.

  • ​Make sure to search at dusk and dawn.
  • ​Bring a good flashlight

​8) Don't Chase Your Dog

warning not to chase a lost dog when found

​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.

  • ​​​When you find your dog, don't chase or try to catch it!
  • ​​Try to get it to come to you.
  • ​You can use a bit of food, their favorite cookie or something that belonged to them.. ​
  • ​If you can't get it to come to you, leave and come ​back to the same place later.

​9) Place food and Familiar items in the area where he/she got lost.

dog lost in woods searching for owner

​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.

  • ​Leave familiar items like blankets, toys, or beds in the area where the dog was lost
  • Leave a bowl with fresh water too
  • Come back at different times of the day to check for the dog.

​10) Use A Bloodhound

bloodhound searching for lost dog in field

​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.

Go here to check her service

​11) Focus And Stay Positive

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. Additionally you can use an electronic pet toy to keep an eye on your dog.

About the Author Kwinten

Pets, and in particular dogs, are my life. When I wake up, I can't wait to see my beautiful dog Leila, and when I go to bed I am cuddling with my cat Sheila. (Yes, I am not very original when it comes to names).

  • Maddison says:

    My chihuahua is name leah she ran away when i was on my way home from school i called her name to let her in and she was no where to be seen. My mom made posters she ran away 12.09.16 and today is 12.10.16 im so scared i miss my baby and all i can do is cry myself to sleep.

    • Kwinten says:

      Hi Maddison,

      I am so sorry to hear that and I wish that you are already reunited with Leah.
      If not, don’t give up hope. Dogs get found many days after they ran off. It doesn’t mean that your dog doesn’t want to come back
      You can ask at the local pet shelter, post on social media (Hashtag the name of your town and neighboorhood) and keep your eyes open.

      Good Luck!!!

  • tanvi says:

    I tried all ways but i didn’t get my puppy

  • Vane says:

    Thank you. Sometimes we forget the little things that help a lot such as name tags with phone numbers, etc.

  • Nancy Mrofki says:

    I have a Sheltie puppy She is 12 wks old and only weighs 7 lbs. I have only had her one week. She ran away from my husband today. I’ve looked everywhere I can’t find her. I’m afraid she won’t survive the night

  • Adriana Ramirez says:

    I lost my pet 5 days ago 😢 I’m so scared and completely depressed. I been searching for her everyday should I stop? I don’t eat I don’t sleep I miss her so much! 😢😢 I have use the social media and add posters.

  • rich mills says:

    All i read were stories of dogs running off on their own. What about dogs that are accidentally left behind somewhere. Because the information above doesent apply to that situation.. last night i did this. My dog jumped out of my car in a dark neighborhood.that he didnt know at 7pm i went home slept a few hrs.went to work at 8am my wife called me saying he was missing so i left work 25miles away got back to the neighborhood i left him in drove through the streets constantly calling his name and he came running from the school a few block from where he was left so in that situation tome is very important he was missing for 14hrs. I was lucky to get him back.

  • Dashiell Qwerty says:

    Well my dog has been gone for about 13 days. The longest she’s been gone is 2. I don’t know what to do. I’ve been crying for her and I think I have to accept she’s gone. It’s been really hard I’ve had her for about 5 years. This article made me feel a little better and thank you for that, but we live in a rural area with not many people. And she avoids what little of people there are. I am going to miss her.

    • Kwinten says:

      Hi Dashiell, I am so sorry to hear that! Have you tried leaving some water and familiar smelling items at the place where you lost her? Keeping my fingers crossed for you to find her.

  • Jessie kil says:

    I just lost mine yesterday, its only been a day but we lost her at a place where she wasn’t used to. It was a whole new place and we are scared to loose her. I’ve been depressed for the past few hours and I dont think i am going to get better until I find her. She is a small yorkshire which concerns me even more cause that place was a rural place. And it was our first time visiting there

  • Don’t lose hope everyone! I’m seeing posts all the time about dogs coming home 30, 40, 60 days later or MORE!! My guy is out there lost, but I am keeping the hope alive. For Dashiell, if you know about where she was, try a cookout (day and night for several days in the same exact location). Since you’re more rural, this can help draw her in! Use a small grill, and cook food on it for a couple of hours, hot dogs, burgers, whatever you can cook. SHE CAN SURVIVE!!!

  • Lightie says:

    mmmmm I already know that i would never see my dog comming back home but even if it’s been like 8 years since he got lost… I dont know i just found that post and i just wanted to say good luck to all the people who lost their pets, i wish you to find them.

    Still crying at least once a month (seems like today is my bad day) for my babydog and even if i said before that i know he wont be back… I’m still hopping and waiting for him.

    Btw, nice post it’s really usefull
    (sorry for my english, I’m not an english speaker)

  • Billitra Phillips says:

    My dogs ran away again I hate it when they run away Bella and Hazel two girls

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