11 Steps To Take To Find Your Lost Dog

Losing a dog is a heart-wrenching experience that can leave even the most experienced dog owners feeling helpless. But imagine if you had a clear plan to find your dog and bring them back home – wouldn’t that be great? Can you imagine the relief and joy of being reunited with your beloved pet?

Start by checking at home, then search your neighbors. And if this isn’t helpful then – call the local authorities to inform them about the incident to get their help. Go to the last place you saw your dog and search around. Make flyers with lots of details & share them on social media to reach more people.

There’s a lot more to finding a lost dog than you might think. Our comprehensive guide delves deeper into each step – offering insights and strategies to increase the chances of finding your lost dog. Keep reading to discover how to turn hope into action.

11 Immediate Steps To Follow When Your Dog Is Lost

When your dog goes missing, it’s important to act fast and smart. Here are the first steps to take to have the best chance of finding your pet.

  1. Check at Home

First If your dog is gone, start looking at home. Because they might be hiding somewhere close – they could be scared or worried. To search your home well, try these things:

  • Look in Common Hiding Places: Dogs often hide where they feel safe. So search in: 
  • Closets 
  • Under beds 
  • In garages 
  • Inside cars 
  • In gardens 
  • Sheds 
  • Basements 
  • Attics & behind couches.
  • Use Familiar Sounds: Say your dog’s name while shaking their treat jar or holding their favorite toy. The sound of familiar items can encourage them to come out of hiding.
  • Use Scent: Put things that smell like you or your dog, like your worn clothes or their bedding, outside. Because dogs have a strong sense of smell, and these scents can draw them out of hiding.
  • Stay Calm and Patient: If you panic – it can make things harder for you and your dog. So try to stay calm and be patient while you look.
  • Prepare for Their Return: If your dog got out through an open gate or an electric fence, ensure these are secured or turned off to allow for a safe return.

Remember: In many cases, lost dogs are found hiding in or around their homes, frightened by unfamiliar noises or situations.

  1. Inquire With Family and Neighbors

Secondly, seek help from your family and ask your neighbors to check their yards, porches, and garages. And, also, ask them to look at any home security footage, like from cameras, for any signs of your dog. 

While the urge to conduct a physical search is strong, it’s essential to remember that this might scare your dog further away. Instead – quickly inform your neighborhood and ask that if anyone sees your dog they should:

  • Stay calm
  • Do not look directly at your dog
  • And gently throw treats to bring them closer.
  1. Confirm Your Dog’s Microchip Details

Make sure their microchip info is current. Contact the microchip company to update your contact details – ensuring they can reach you if your dog is found. Inform them about your missing dog so they can notify local shelters. And, if you don’t know the microchip company but have the ID number, use the universal pet microchip lookup tool to get information.

Keep in Mind: Only a small percentage of lost dogs are found through their microchip or ID tags. Because microchips don’t have GPS capabilities, they can’t track your dog. They only help identify your dog if someone finds them and scans the chip. So, don’t just rely on the microchip.

  1. Alert the Authorities

When you finally establish that your dog is lost it’s time to promptly alert local authorities and organizations to help you in locating your lost dog.

  • Notify Local Services: Call animal control, the police, vets, and animal shelters within 20 miles. Give them your dog’s photo, details, and microchip number – if they have one.
  • Check with Highway Departments: Contact the highway department too, in case your pet was involved in any incidents on the road.
  • Use Online Resources: Also, use online databases like Petco Lost Love in the US or the National Pet Register in the UK. Report your missing dog and look for any reports of found dogs.
  1. Establish Your Search Range

Now, think about where to search for your dog. Consider these points:

  • Location of Disappearance: Assess if your dog went missing from home or an unfamiliar area. This helps predict their comfort level and potential movement.
  • Dog’s Behavior: Think about whether your dog was frightened or looking for an adventure. This affects how far they might have gone.
  • Familiar Spots: Make a list of places or people your dog likes. They might go there.
  • Potential Hazards: Be aware of any dangerous areas nearby where your dog could get stuck.
  • Dog’s Physical Capabilities: Think about how fit and active your dog is. This helps guess how far they could travel.
  • Duration Missing: The length of time your dog has been missing helps gauge the search radius.
  1. Explore the Location of the Dog’s Disappearance

Checking both the immediate area and a wider region around the spot where they went missing can greatly improve your chances of finding them. Here are some tips for your search:

  • Call Your Dog’s Name: Do this gently so you don’t scare them more.
  • Enlist Help: Ask your family, friends & neighbors to join the search and ask them to call you if they spot your dog.
  • Someone Stays Home: Make sure someone is always at your house – just in case your dog comes back.
  • Open Doors: Leave your home and gate doors open, so your dog can easily return.
  • Utilize Familiar Scents: Put items your dog loves, like their blanket or toys, outside your house. Also, take treats with you when you search.
  • Retrace Familiar Routes: Go to places you often walk with your dog.
  • Ask Locals: See if anyone has spotted your dog and give them your contact information.
  • Expand Your Search: If initial efforts are unsuccessful, widen your search area, using a vehicle if necessary.
  1. Create and Print a Flier

This effectively increases the chances of finding your lost dog, it’s essential to spread the word in the area where they disappeared:

  • Create Visible Flyers: Make 250 color flyers and include information such as: 
  • Where your dog was last seen
  • A clear picture of them 
  • Their microchip ID 
  • Collar tag info 
  • Any reward offer 
  • The words “DO NOT CHASE” 
  • And your phone number in big letters.
  • Distribute Strategically: Now post these flyers within a 2-3 mile radius of the disappearance site. Hang them on telephone poles, facing traffic, and also cover them in plastic to keep them dry. And if there are no poles – go door-to-door or put them in newspaper boxes.
  • Use Your Vehicle: Stick a flyer on your car windows. And this turns your car into a moving sign.
  • Broaden Your Reach: Also, place flyers at places like pet stores, groomers, dog parks, bus and train stations, churches, schools, post offices, convenience stores, big store parking lots, gas stations & parks. And also give flyers to people working in these places to help spread the word further.
  1. Utilize Facebook and Various Social Media Platforms

The next step is to inform your social media network about your missing dog. And make sure to include key details in the announcement post.

  • Post Clear Photos: Share several pictures of your dog. So people can easily recognize them.
  • Include Last Seen Location and Date: Tell people exactly where and when your dog was last seen.
  • Describe Your Dog’s Temperament: Provide details about whether your dog is friendly or fearful – as it can influence how others approach your dog.
  • Share Your Contact Information: Add your phone number so people can quickly reach you.
  • Use Local Online Communities: Post in local Facebook groups & on websites for lost or missing pets in your area.
  1. Consider Other Methods

If your dog is still missing, you should also try these other ideas:

  • Advertise in Local Media: Put a notice about your missing dog in local newspapers or on radio stations.
  • Hire a Specialist: Consider a pet detective or a missing animal response expert.
  • Daily Shelter Checks: Keep calling or visiting animal shelters regularly.
  • Employ a Sniffer Dog: A trained dog can also assist you in tracking your pet.
  • Utilize Online Resources: Put your dog’s info on websites and apps for lost dogs such as – Fido Finder or Pet Amber Alert.
  • Talk to Animal Control: Ask them if they have any news about your dog.
  • Post at Veterinary Clinics: Hang up flyers at local vet offices in case someone brings your injured pet there.
  1. Keep Your Phone With You

Make sure you always have your phone ready to get calls about your lost dog. If your dog has an ID tag or a microchip – you might receive important calls. And also have a notebook to write down any sightings.

  1. Stay Determined!

It’s tough to lose a dog, and it can get harder over time. However, remember that many dog owners have experienced similar situations and ultimately found their dogs. Whether it takes hours, days, or longer – keep your hope & keep looking. Because your persistence and optimism are key in this challenging time.

What To Do Upon Receiving Sighting Calls

When you receive sightings of your lost dog, follow these guidelines:

  • Record Sightings: Write down every sighting in a logbook, including who called and their number.
  • Ask Specific Questions: Ask different questions from the caller such as: 
  • Location of your dog 
  • Time of sighting 
  • Dog’s appearance 
  • And what your dog was doing (e.g., running, playing, direction of travel).
  • Map the Sightings: Plot each sighting on a map, whether paper or digital – this will help you to track your dog’s movement.
  • Approach with Caution: If you find your dog, don’t run up to them. Carefully approach your dog as they might consider you a stranger and run off. Start by sitting or lying down close to them, don’t look them in the eyes. Now then softly throw treats to draw them close. And wait for them to recognize you before you try to put on a leash.

What Is the Likelihood of Locating a Lost Dog?

The chances of finding a lost dog are quite high, with a 93% recovery rate reported by the ASPCA. About half of the dogs are found by searching around the neighborhood & 16% make it back home on their own.

Microchips and ID tags aid in 15% of cases – while 6% are located in animal shelters. It’s important to know that lost dogs can live on their own for a long time. Using a GPS tracker for your dog can significantly increase the chances of finding them.


The distress of losing a beloved dog is a feeling no pet owner ever wants to experience. Yet, it’s a reality that can occur to anyone, whether you are experienced or naive pet parents. The quick and smart steps you take are key to finding your dog again. And, by following the comprehensive steps outlined in this article – you’re not just searching – you’re significantly enhancing the likelihood of a joyful reunion. 

So stay hopeful and keep trying, let your love for your dog be your guide in this hard time.

Does your dog like to go for joyrides and you have had trouble getting him/her back?  Give us a call and let us help you with recall!  


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