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7 Steps to Take if Your Dog Goes Missing

Most dog owners feel like their canine companion is a member of their family, and they seek to do whatever is necessary to maintain their furry friend’s health and happiness throughout their time together. It can therefore be terribly upsetting to have one’s dog go missing, for any length of time, but it is important not to panic and to immediately take steps to help locate your dog. After all, your dog doesn’t want to be lost either, and misses you as much, or perhaps even more, than you miss him.

Steps to Take

It is important to realize that the more aggressive you are in locating your dog immediately after their disappearance, the more likely you are to meet with success. They can only go so far in the first twenty-four hours after leaving, but as time rolls on the larger the perimeter you will have to search. Following are seven important steps to take immediately after realizing that your dog has gone missing:

  1. Keep someone posted on the phones at all times. Most dog owners recognize the importance of listing their name and phone number on their dog’s collar. Microchipping one’s beloved pet has also become increasingly popular, and this too can lead to a phone call about your furry friend. It is therefore critical to ensure that someone is always manning the phones in case a neighbor or other passerby locates your dog. If your address is listed on your dog’s collar, it is also important to ensure that someone remains at the house during the search. Whoever is manning the phone can also place important phone calls to local animal shelters, veterinarians and animal control, while keeping the main line open, to leave a description of the dog in case he turns up.
  2. Use a picture to help locate your dog. A recent photograph of your dog can be enormously beneficial, especially since it can actually be quite difficult and time-consuming to try and describe your dog to a stranger while you are emotionally distraught.
  3. Try to entice your dog. If you know that your dog always responds well to a specific squeaky toy or the shaking of a treat box, bring that along with you and make some noise. Your voice should be calm and happy, not angry or distressed, as they will likely respond to the former and tend to hide from the latter.
  4. Get others to help you. If you have business cards with your phone number on them, you can hand these out to neighbors and friends. If not, write your name and number down on slips of paper and hand them around to anyone you meet while searching for your dog. You can also post advertisements on websites like and to alert individuals in the community to your dog’s disappearance. Oftentimes your dog is picked up by someone who cares – they just need help locating you to facilitate a reunion.
  5. Create a poster. If a full day has gone by and you still have not located your beloved canine, it is time to create a poster. You should include a color picture of your dog if possible, your phone number and a brief description of whether your dog was last seen. You should also include your dog’s name and offer a reward, but do not name the actual amount. People are often driven to help when they see a “Lost” poster, but may be put off if they feel the reward is too low. The best places to place your posters are on public bulletin boards all around the community – including community centers, dog parks, grocery stores, libraries and telephone poles. You can also ask local merchants if they are willing to display your poster in their window or next to their cash register, and give posters to postal carriers who drive all around the community on a daily basis.
  6. Check lost and found websites online and in the local newspapers. Some individuals post advertisements about dogs they find when they have no other way to contact the owner.
  7. Don’t give up – and keep contacting others who are willing and able to help. In some cases, dogs can go missing for a considerable length of time and still be successfully found and reunited with their owners. It is important to realize that while you may feel you are making every effort to locate your dog, there are small cracks they can slip through and only your persistence can help find them.
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