What to do if your dog goes missing

6th Feb 2019

So your four legged friend is missing…

Come quick, Peppa has run out the park and I can’t find her…

If to you, like me that statement is the beginning of a nightmare, read on!

Peppa the Shiba Inu had only been with us 5 weeks, everything was new and exciting and we were going through the motions of letting her off the lead in the park when something spooked her and she bolted out the park. Try as she may my partner couldn’t keep up. It was a case of two legs against four, the odds were not in her favour. Luckily for us we managed to find her within what felt like 2 hours but was really about 30 minutes.

That little episode got me thinking, if we hadn’t found her, what would we have done?

The sooner the better.

You will need to start your search as soon as possible. This way you’re more likely to find your dog in the first 12 hours of going missing.

According to some experts nearly 90% of pets are found if the owner searches in the first 12 hours. Try to get some help from family, friends or neighbours. Ask people you pass by and bring it to their attention.

If possible have a bag of treats with you when you start your search, as you will know food gets dogs moving.

Also call your dog’s name often, she could be hiding in bushes, under a car etc. So her name and a familiar voice might persuade her to come out to you.

While calling out be sure to listen out for reply barks.

This might all sound obvious, but in a panic you are likely to miss the basics.

It’s getting dark and still nothing…

If you can continue the search into the night, be sure to take torches and do not search alone. Be sure to let local pet/animal agencies and shelters know that you have a missing animal. Have a recent photo so you don’t miss any small identifying details in the description you give.

Is your dog tagged/microchipped? If so be sure to mention this.

Stay in contact with these agencies over the next few days if still not found. If you are about to head home for the night, don’t lose hope. Although most households don’t have a dog, most are likely to have someone who’s had one in the past or has an affinity to animals and are likely to have taken it in for the night.

Dogs are most active at dusk and dawn, so that is a good time to be out searching as she’s likely out foraging rather than asleep. Utilise your dog’s behaviour patterns to help you work out her possible actions.

When to print out fliers.

I guess you could say it’s never too soon to put out fliers with a description. Do make extra use of the internet and social media to let your online friends know your pet is missing, they can hopefully peddle the announcement farther for you.

Check lost dog postings.

Use a colour photo as this seems to work better than black and white. Use one where the face is clear. Make the information on the flier detailed but to the point. Describe your dog, the name and general area she disappeared in and when. Provide a number to be contacted on but never your exact address. The usual places to place these fliers, trees and posts, restaurants, shops, pet stores and places with food preparation.

Prevention, prevention, prevention.

While you cannot account for every situation, you can do a lot to minimise the chances of your dog getting lost… for a long time at least.

First of all, secure the home. Make it hard for your dog to escape, most times their curiosity gets the best of them when they find an opportunity to go on an adventure.

Close up any gaps and holes they can squeeze through. This also keeps out any unwanted animals etc.

Microchip your dog – this is a usually trouble free chip that is inserted in the back of the dog’s neck.

Pet agencies have scanners to read the chip to access the relevant details about the dog including owner contacts. Be sure to keep the details updated.

ID tag – with these you have your dog’s name and your contact details.

Should someone find your dog, they can get in touch. Again ensure the details are up to date.

GPS tracker – possibly provides the most peace of mind as you can get real time updates of where your dog is.

There are several versions online with ranging features and capabilities.

Some come in a microchip version embedded in the skin so they never get lost.

You would be on her heels as the ‘adventure’ unfolds. An anxious game of cat and mouse so to speak.