Things to Know BEFORE Your Dog Go Missing

Please note, I am NOT a dog expert; I'm a fur mum and I wished I knew this information before it was too late. I've credited the websites I found this information at the bottom of the page.

1. STOP THEM IN THEIR TRACKS
You're out with your dog, they get spooked by something and they run off. You suddenly realise this is serious. How do you get their attention to come back? Watch this:

2. DON'T CHASE OR CALL YOUR DOG
As the owner of a lost pet, remain calm. You need to give the impression they are not being chased.

I know you are in panic mode, but so is your dog. They have just run into a world they may not be familiar with, and it is scary for them too.

For lost dogs it is FIGHT or FLIGHT, most will choose flight. They are going to run, they do not take the time and register you’re Mum or Dad, to them at that moment, you are a PREDATOR.

This is one of the hardest concepts to understand as a lost dog owner. Read this to understand your lost dogs behaviour.

If your dog is still in sight after running away, please do the following:

  • Slowly get low or lay flat on the ground
  • Avoid eye contact
  • Speak softly with a calm voice
  • Do not reach for your dog, if it comes close let your dog touch you first, for some that are very skittish we will let them touch us multiple times. If you reach, the dog may run away.
  • Give your dog time to recognize your voice or your smell.

Then start LURING your dog back to you. It is important that you move slowly and use techniques like “Calming Signals”.  Watch the video below.

3. STILL MISSING? SET UP FOOD AND CLOTHING STATIONS ASAP
Dogs generally follow the path of least resistance. So look at where your dog run away and look for clear paths. They will look for and follow pathways like rivers, walk or bike paths or roads. Their first instincts will be to look for a consistent source of water.

Next, you must immediately put out food. Smelly, wet canned dog food or something with gravy carries the most smell and will help lure the dog back home or back to your location. Other items that are smelly are deli meats, liquid smoke, Worcestershire sauce, canned cat food, fried chicken (please remove from bones) in a takeaway container.

Don’t put the food out in the open, that will be too scary, but rather put it back in the trees and loosely cover with a cloth as dogs will remove the cloth, whereas generally other animals won't. Also place the food in a takeaway container and surround the area with a wide, decent layer of flour so you can detect any paw prints.

Put out a big bowl of water too (he or she will be thirsty).

Also, try putting out dirty laundry that smells of you or dog beds, this will keep familiar scents outside your house or in the location they went missing for the dog to smell.


4. DO NOT RALLY THE TROOPS!
Encourage others not to approach or attempt to catch or chase your dog. Doing so will scare him out of the area and make it more difficult for you to find him. Instead, ask that people simply report the sighting to you so that you have a general idea of where he is hiding out.

5. LET EVERYONE KNOW
Update your pets microchip as 'Missing' and ensure your phone number and address are up to date. Some microchip companies will automatically let local vets know your pet is missing, but don't rely on that.

  • Post up on as many relevant social media pages in your area as you can
  • Put up posters
    • Do not include your pets name (to avoid calling & triggering them) I'll post a template there soon for you to use
  • Doorknock or letterbox drop
  • Ring local pounds and vets

6. SING!
“If I’m walking through the neighborhood searching for my dog and I can’t call his name, can I whistle?” The answer is NO, because the chances are good that if other people encountered your dog and THEY whistled to him (which many people do because, everyone knows that dogs come when you whistle, right?) then whistling also WILL BE A TRIGGER to cause your dog to run.

So will slapping your leg and patting your hands. These (calling out to the dog, clapping your hands, whistling) are all gestures and sounds that OTHER PEOPLE have likely used and if they were used when your dog was in the fight or flight mode, when your dog hears these noises he will once again feel a jolt of adrenaline and bolt in fear.

What we recommend is that instead, the only sound that you make is that YOU SING TO YOUR DOG.

Pick any tune you like, and make up the words as you go, but singing to your dog will accomplish two things: (1) it will get your voice heard by your dog and (2) IT WILL SOUND DIFFERENT TO YOUR DOG THAN THE OTHER SOUNDS STRANGERS WHO’VE TRIED TO GRAB YOUR DOG HAVE USED (calling out, hand clapping, whistling).

Singing will also help YOU to calm down and hopefully your voice will reflect PEACE rather than FEAR that comes when you’re worried and calling your dog. You would be better off being silent as you search, especially if you know that your dog has a fearful temperament or took off because of a fearful incident. But if you insist on making noise when you are searching, then SING while you search!

Thanks to the following websites where I found this information:

https://www.missinganimalresponse.com
https://holidaybarn.com