What to Do if Your Dog Runs Away or Goes Missing

When your dog goes missing, it can be stressful for the whole family. After all, they are a part of the family, and while they are missing, no one can get any rest at all. Fortunately, through new technology, social media, and other options, dogs are found more often today than ever before. 

Here are some things you can do before and after your dog runs away to make sure you can find them quickly and safely. 

A Word on Prevention

The best thing to do is to prevent your dog from running away in the first place. This means checking your yard and fence often to make sure your dog can’t escape easily. If your dog is a digger, check frequently for holes along the fence, and do visual inspections often. 

Also, keep your dog entertained and do things with him or her that use up excess energy. Keep things in the yard like play toys and chew items like bones to make your yard a place they want to stay. If your dog is a frequent runner, be sure to watch them when the front door or another means for them to escape is open and available. 

Be sure your pet is microchipped or get a GPS dog tracker if possible, and wearing a collar with tags. Even if your number is not on the tags, often their rabies vaccination tag is enough for authorities to locate and contact you. 

Even with all these precautions, sometimes dogs just run off either because they are bored or distracted by something. Whether they are chasing a cat or another dog, if they wander too far from home and the area where you walk them, your dog can become lost. Unfortunately, this can even put them in danger. 

If your prevention measures have failed, here’s what to do next.

Report Your Missing Pet

The first step is to report your missing pet to the proper authorities. Contact police on their non-emergency number, call your local animal control and report your dog missing to various area veterinarians and the local humane society. 

The more people who know your pet is missing, the more likely they are to be returned to you. Make sure that every entity where your pet might be turned in is aware of what your pet looks like, their name, and your contact information. 

Take to the Web

The internet is a great tool for finding lost pets, and there are several avenues available to you. Be sure to use all of them. First, get a photo of your pet and write up a description. Then look at the following options. 

  • Facebook Groups in Your Area: Even most buy/sell groups will allow posts for missing pets. Get everyone near you looking. 
  • Neighborhood Apps: There are several online neighborhood groups and apps that are great places to let those in your neighborhood know your dog is missing. Join them if you are not a member already, and enlist their help in finding your pet. 
  • Use Instagram and Twitter. You might be surprised how quickly word spreads. 
  • Ask your humane society about their website. Some have spots for missing pets. Your pet may have to be missing for a certain amount of time before these are available. 

Use all of your connections wherever you can to help you look for your lost pet. Don’t forget to let everyone know when you are reunited with them. 

Create a Flyer

This does not have to be fancy. It is really just something you can hand to people or hang up somewhere that gives them a way to contact you if they see your dog. All you need is a photo, description, and your phone number. You can print these at home for now. 

If your dog stays missing for any length of time, you may want to have more professional ones and more of them printed up at a local office supply or copy store. At first, the goal is just to spread the word and find your pup as soon as possible. 

Go Out and Look

You know your pet better than anyone else, and they will probably go somewhere familiar to them. Look where you walk, around neighbor houses that you know, or who have dogs your pup might have “met” while walking by. Start close to your house and expand your search from there. Ask people you see outside if they have seen your dog, and hand them one of the flyers you have created.

Try to remain calm and be thorough. If you use a fitness app, track your walk so you can “see” where you have been so you are not covering the same ground twice. If you spot your pet, try not to spook them. Call them over with treats, and even give treats tho those people you hand flyers too, so they can help calm your dog and return them to you. Remind them not to chase the dog, and if they can’t entice them over to simply contact you with the dog’s last known location. 

Once you have covered a reasonable area on foot, take your car. Dog’s often love to go for rides, and a familiar car might be just the thing to entice them home. 

Don’t Give Up But Take Breaks

Most animals who run away turn up quickly by either coming back on their own or because they are found. Don’t give up, but be sure you take breaks for self-care. Eat, hydrate, and get some rest whenever possible. 

Trust in your efforts. You are not the only one looking for your pet, and if you have made a reasonable effort, others will help you find them and return them safely to you. 

Having a dog run away can be a traumatic event, but it doesn’t have to be overly frightening. Stay calm, report your pet, take to the internet, make flyers, and go out and look. If you do all of these things, chances are pretty good that you and your best friend will be reunited quickly.