According to the ASPCA® report, there are 78.2 million dogs owned in the US. Nearly 15% of the dogs and cats get lost due to various reasons. Luckily 93% of the missing canines were recovered and reunited with their owners.
If this, unfortunately, happened to you, you still have good chances to find your pet. Prompt action and using the right methods can vastly improve your odds of getting your puppy back.
Why do dogs get lost?
Before I share with you the best ways to find a lost dog, you should know the reasons why the dogs get lost in the first place. Here are some of them:
- Dogs love to chase. Keep it on a leash whenever you’re on a walk or at places where are other animals. Consider fencing your yard to protect the dog from outside distractions.
- Many dogs are gone missing due to their own curiosity. If you have a German Shepherd or a Husky, known by their energetic and adventurous nature, then you must take care of a regular exercise to fulfill their behavioral needs.
- In a non-neutered dog reproductive drive is a common reason why dogs run away.
- Dogs may run away due to a fear or separation anxiety also. Whenever you possess a shy and hyper-attached dog, take into account hiring a dog sitter.
- Be aware that sometimes it can be stolen, not lost.
Most Efficient Ways to Find a Lost Dog
Knowledge of the successful methods of finding dogs can provide invaluable help for owners of lost pets. Research done by The Ohio State University has shown that the most efficient way to found your pet is by using information provided by a local animal agency (25% success rate), following with the placement of a newspaper advertisement (24%), walking the neighborhood (19%), posting signs in the neighborhood (15%), and lastly through tag identification (10%).
If you ask me I would bet these days on social media and websites too. When microchipping became a defacto standard for registered pure breed dogs, the recovery rate boosted substantially. So, let’s reveal now how to make a missing-dog recovery process go more smoothly.
1. Search your neighborhood
At first, ensure your dog is really lost before starting the search. There is a chance that your dog is hiding somewhere in the house or he is just laying around the backyard. Ask your family members and neighbors if they had perhaps seen your hound. Then you should begin seeking your pup around the neighborhood right away. Time is crucial in such events. However, the odds are on your side. Every 2nd dog gone missing is after all found near home.
2. Use social media
Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are the primary platforms where you should start spreading the news about your lost dog. Many times I witnessed how missing-dog stories once published on social media concluded with a happy ending. Social media with its power to connect and content sharing abilities to friends and group members, many times helped to reunite owners and lost dogs. Here are some of the methods you should use:
- Post to your Facebook. Describe your dog in details and invite friends to share.
- Publish an image of your dog on your Twitter account. Use popular hashtags like #lostdog #missingdog and #foundlostdogs together with missing dog description. Perform daily searches with the use of these tags.
- Consider paying a Facebook ad with local targeting.
3. Contact local dog shelters, pet rescue groups or visit animal control station
Many of the stray dogs are collected by the local rescue groups and taken to the animal shelters or control stations. Contact them as soon as possible and file a lost pet report with every shelter within 30-50 miles proximity of your home. Try also getting in touch with vets, pet stores, kennels, dog sitters and grooming salons.
4. Search the lost & found pet websites
There are many lost dog websites and apps you can use to find your missing dog. Some of them require registration or charge you a promotion fee, others not. The best ones integrate microchip registry with a powerful visual search engine. Some of them use pet facial recognition technology that makes easier to find the matching results.
Here is my list of the best websites you can use:
- Fido Finder
- Lost pet USA
- Finding Rover
5. Distribute flyers and posters
Sometimes old-fashioned marketing techniques like using posters and flyers can be more efficient than lost & found websites. Think about the seniors who might find your dog and are not so internet savvy. Get a clear image of your pet and design a lost dog flyer. Include your pet’s breed color, sex, age, size, and any noticeable markings. Finally, put your contact information at the bottom with a phone number or email.
If you offer a reward, do not reveal all the dog’s characteristics on your poster. In this way, you’ll have a possibility to verify if the person claiming the Reward is certainly holding your dog.
6. Try to get announcements on local radio stations or newspapers
Most local radio stations and newspapers allow people to get Lost & Found announcements for free or at least for an affordable price. Ask them if they can do a post on their social media channels also.
7. Call a professional pet detective
Finally, if none of the above-mentioned methods aren’t working for you, I advise contacting a pet detective. It can be costly, but powerful. Pet detectives have the expertise in the investigation of animal theft and recovery of a stolen or missing animal.
Measures To Prevent Your Dog From Getting Lost
When you got reunited with your beloved after gone missing for days, it’s a heart-melting moment. Follow these loss prevention measures to ensure your dog’s safety in the future:
- Get your dog microchipped and registered
- Provide an ID tag
- Consider using a GPS tracking device
- Neuter your pet
- Have a secure, fenced yard
- Train it not to react to other animals
- Maintain regular exercise
To sum up: microchipping and getting dog behavior under control are necessary prevention methods that must be followed by every dog owner.
Of course, when a furry friend gets lost, there is not only fear, there is the also a shock that pet parents have to deal with as well. At first, do not panic. With persistence and by following the best ways to find a lost dog you’ll have high chances of a successful recovery.