Recover a lost dog

Things To Do To Help Recover Your Lost Dog:

Get Help From Your Community

  • Call your local Animal Control Facility
  • Notify your neighbors. Put your ego aside and knock on their door!
  • Post a picture of your dog on Facebook with it’s name, age, breed, where it was last seen, and your phone number. Create a Facebook page so people can easily communicate with one another and you.
  • Make a flier to post on telephone poles, trees, at local businesses.
  • Notify all nearby veterinarians, even if you don’t use them. Someone may pick up your dog and bring it to their vet.

    A Dog’s Nose Knows:

  • Dogs “view” the world through their nose, ears, then eyes.
  • Grab all dog blankets, towels, and beds and put them outside.
  • Put a dirty shirt, sweat pants, socks or something that smells like YOU, outside.
  • If you have another dog or a cat, rub them down with a towel and put it outside.
  • The goal is to bring the familiar smells of “home” outside to give them a landmark.
  • If you have another dog, bring your dog with you when searching for lost dog.


  • Dogs on the run are going to eat quickly. They don’t know when they will eat again.
  • They will also want to eat and run, meaning they want an easy escape route if trouble comes.
  • Putting food on a stranger’s back step may not be the best idea as it is too close to “danger.” The backyard may be better.
  • Dogs are creatures of habit. They love routines. They will return to where they found food.
  • Keep putting food out. You want to reduce the distance they will travel to find food.
  • They will likely develop a territory and not stray very far from it (within a couple of miles.)

    Using Instincts:

  • We can’t hope to understand why a dog took off or why it won’t come back.
  • Don’t waste time beating yourself up over the “why?”
  • As time passes, your dog’s natural instincts will kick in. It may begin to lose its domestic nature. The friendliest dog may¬† growl and act aggressive towards strangers. It may turn and run away from you.
  • It is in “survival mode.” They are acting on pure instinct where everything is a competitor and a potential predator.

    When Spotted:

  • Do not look directly at dog (eye contact can be threatening.)
  • Do not take a direct approach towards dog (predators take a straight line.)
  • Drop your head and shoulders (predators keep their heads up and forward with confidence)
  • Do not talk to the dog or encourage it to come to you. Your excited, high pitch voice will show nervous/excited/and anxious energy. A scared and hungry dog will NOT trust you. It will run the other way.
  • Turn your body perpindicular to theirs. (Dog language – I mean no harm.)
  • Drop down low, get on ground if you have too, even lay on ground. (I am no threat. Humans don’t usually lie on ground. It may invite curiosity.)
  • If it comes close, be slow and deliberate in your actions. Quick, snatching type behavior will fail. Dogs are faster than we are and they will run.

    Building Trust (with food):

  • You may not have an opportunity to get the dog to come to you at first.
  • Be patient. Keep following these directions.
  • You want the dog to trust you, not fear you.
  • I like to use pepperoni slices to help lure a dog. It is a high value reward that most dogs (even if fed table scraps) don’t often get. They are also small enough to keep a dog’s interest without making it full.
  • Toss a slice towards the dog. Again, do NOT look at it or encourage it. Just give it food.
  • It may not take it right away as it is fearful. Give it time.
  • Toss another piece and another. Let the dog think. Let the smell wander up to its nose. Let it eat quietly.
  • Toss more pieces, however, make the distance shorter, making it come closer to you.
  • Take your time and be patient if the dog is eating. Don’t break the trust by moving too fast.

    Final Thoughts:

  • Don’t give up. Don’t lose hope. Don’t stop trying.
  • I have recently experienced the joy of bringing 2 dogs “home” that were not my own.
  • The dogs were on the run for 6 weeks and 3 weeks before they were ready to come home.
  • It is emotionally difficult. There are highs of a sighting and lows with no sightings.
  • You may need to use a Save-A-Heart trap (similar to those for raccoons and other critters.)
  • I don’t care what your religious beliefs are, but have faith in something bigger to help bring your family member home.
  • Be grateful and thankful to the volunteers and strangers who are helping you. A simple thank you can go a very long way to having an entire community help you.
  • Don’t hesitate to contact me if you have questions or concerns. I will do the best I can to help.

    Teaching People & Helping Dogs