Dogs are curious creatures by nature, and they can go missing for a variety of reasons. They might have been startled by a loud noise or became enticed by an irresistible scent and went exploring. Whatever the reason, as a dog owner, it is terrifying when you realize the four-legged member of your family is missing.
So you need to know why your dog ran away in the first place since it will increase your chances of finding the pet with 24 hours or even sooner. Also, you got to have an idea of the necessary steps you have to perform to find a lost dog. And that’s what I’ll cover in this guide.
Do you have a specific question about the subject? Then use the table of contents below to jump to the most relevant section. And you can always go back by clicking on the black arrow in the right bottom corner of the page. Also, please note that some of the links in this article may be affiliate links. For more details, check the Disclosure section at the bottom of the page.
- Why do dogs run away?
- If a dog runs away, will it come back?
- Dog behavior after being lost
- How far can a dog travel in a day?
- Can a dog survive in the wild?
- How long can a lost dog survive in the cold?
- Where to call for a lost dog?
- How to increase the chances of finding a lost dog?
- What do you do when you find a lost dog?
Why do dogs run away?
Most dogs are curious and want to be active and discover things around them, and that’s a common reason why they might run away.
Your dog may also hit the road because it makes it hard for her to be away from you and struggle with separation anxiety. In many cases, their sex drive will make them move. Some dogs might be scared (think fireworks and thunder or any other loud noises).
Sometimes they will run away when you give them treats and food, or even when they see their own poop. And that’s just a few reasons to be aware of.
If a dog runs away, will it come back?
If your dog escaped from your yard or home, there is a chance that they will go back. If possible, have someone remain at the house in case the dog returns. Leave out water, their favorite food, and possibly a favorite item like their favorite toy. There is a chance that once your pet is done with his adventure, he may find the way home on his own.
Dog behavior after being lost
It all depends on the circumstances of your dog running away. If the reason was your pup being afraid of something, he might stay hidden for some time. So if you know where exactly the pet ran away, make sure you continue to visit the area. If you think your dog might be around, consider leaving out food and water.
You might even want to build a safe catch trap to capture your dog. If you do decide to put out a trap, make sure that you check it frequently. You do not want any animal to end up stranded in the trap for very long.
If they run away driven by curiosity, you will often try to find other dogs and humans to play with. So you’re supposed to check the public parks and neighbors’ yards around. It’s going to hide if he doesn’t trust strangers, or if he’s an elderly or shy pet. So maybe you want to check under cars and bushes, too.
But remember the longer your pet remains lost, the more possible it is to hide and escape from the searchers.
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How far can a dog travel in a day?
Most dogs run as far as their legs are going to carry them. Large dogs, especially if they are young, can run 5 miles or more, whereas most smaller dogs can be likely to go half a mile at best. Usually, no matter how strong they are, most dogs would never run for an extended straight line, and that’s why they’re retrieved well within a two-mile radius of their home.
Can a dog survive in the wild?
Dogs are scavengers, not hunters. Wolves were their ancestors. And these animals decided to give up hunting to take our scraps and eat stuff from our garbage heaps. So, in general, dogs don’t get the opportunity to learn how to find nutritious high-calorie food on their own effectively.
This would require some kind of trial-and-error as dogs adapt to their new world and improve their survival skills. And it’s pretty sure not every dog will be able to meet the requirements of the new environment.
Although there are cases when a dog was missing for 6 months during the winter and was brought back home safely after all, like in this story of Golden Retriever called Buck.
How long can a lost dog survive in the cold?
Long-haired dogs tend to be more cold-tolerant then short-haired pets since they have less protection. Smaller pets may become cold faster because their bodies are more likely to come into contact with snow-covered ground.
E.g., it took one night for the Pomeranian mix to be frozen to death when the temperatures went as low as minus 5 degrees.
It is challenging to control body temperature for sick pets. So they may be more sensitive to temperature extremes no matter how thick their coats are.
Where to call for a lost dog?
You should call every rescue group in your area. Dog lovers are often hesitant to take a rescued pet to a shelter for fear that they will be euthanized, so they reach out to rescue groups instead. Take or send a picture of your dog to every rescue group you can find, and ask them if they can give you contact information for other rescue groups.
How to increase the chances of finding a lost dog?
Always use lost dog tracker or microchip
Make sure your dog wears a collar with a tag that lists your name and phone number, and it is legible. It is also a good idea to have your dog microchipped. As microchipping has become more popular, more people know to take a lost dog to have them checked for a microchip.
And all veterinarians and shelters should scan for a microchip anytime a new dog comes in. If your dog is microchipped and goes missing, contact the company that holds the microchipped database to make sure they have the correct contact information.
Publish lost dog post on social media
There are groups for lost and found pets on social media sites. Take the best photo of your dog and create a missing post as soon as you’ve found your pup missing. That will increase your chances of finding it after 24 hours. Use your personal page to alert friends, family, and neighbors so that they can be on the lookout and help with the search.
Use neighborhood apps
Neighborhood apps let you alert those in your neighborhood to your missing pet, and most will also allow you to post a picture. These people live closest to you, so they are the most likely to spot your lost dog.
Use a lost pet app
There are numerous lost pet apps like Whistle or Shadow. Shadow apps give you the ability to send out a lost pet alert to others in your area, as well as help match your pet to pets listed as found. And with Whistle, you can track pet’s location at all times, receive push notification if it leaves the “safe” are + plus monitor pet’s health on top of it.
Create and distribute missing dog flyer
Take a great picture of your pet, include the word “missing” in large bold type, list a reward amount, and your contact information. Then plaster your neighborhood or the area your dog went missing with these flyers.
Take the flyers with you while you are out looking for your dog and do not be shy about knocking on doors and asking anyone you see out and about if they might have seen your dog.
Make sure to put flyers at any nearby dog parks or other favorite places that people with dogs go. Other dog lovers will be attentive to how much it would hurt to have a missing pet and will keep their eyes open for your lost friend.
Check dog shelters in your area
Visit every shelter within a 30-mile radius of where your pet went missing. Shelters are often overworked and underfunded, so do not rely on a phone call. Go personally, or send a friend or family member, but physically walk through the shelter searching for your dog. If your dog is not there, leave a copy of the flyer and ask if they have a found pet database you can explore.
Last tip for tracking your lost dog
Delegate as many of those steps as possible to friends and family members so that you can continue to comb the area where your pet went missing. Widen your search area, because animals can travel farther than you think. Walk and call your pet during different times of the day and night.
What do you do when you find a lost dog?
If you’ve found a dog with a tag with all the pet’s current information, the return process is pretty straight forward. Only reach out to the tag touch.
If the dog doesn’t have ID tags, you’re going to want them checked to see if they have a microchip. This can be done in a veterinarian clinic, in a local animal control department, or in an animal shelter.
And if there’s no chip, then the best chance for the pet to meet the family is through the shelter, too. If there are several of those in your area, you might want to contact all of them to find out if someone reported missing a dog.
Credits: thanks for the cover photo to Canva.
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