Locating a Lost Dog
Do as much as possible, as soon as possible,
Ask other people to help
Ask others to assist in searching, posting and distributing flyers, and implementing as many strategies as possible to locate your dog.
Especially if your dog is a new addition to your family, immediately notify his previous guardian (prior owner, rescue organization or shelter, foster home, breeder, etc.) and request assistance. Do not be embarrassed or worried about this notification, as the dog’s recovery could be dependent on it.
Make (and Post) Flyers – Big and Small
Create Small Flyers
(visible and uncluttered)
Using a computer, create and print 8 ½ x 11 inch flyers:
Put “Call if Seen” or “Lost Dog” at the top, on one line, using the largest font possible.
Next, add a color photograph of the dog. If desired, “Mini Greyhound” can be put below the photograph (for the purpose of lost dog flyers, putting “mini” conveys to people that the dog is small, and not a large Greyhound.
Put a contact number, using the largest font possible in one line of text. If adding more than one number, use a separate line for each number.
Printable flyers can also be created on-line or at office supply stores:
Pet FBI - create a free, printable flyer
Lost My Doggie - the free service package includes a lost pet flyer generator.
Staples - flyers and/or posters can be printed and/or laminated at stores such as Staples.
Create BIG Flyers
(visible and uncluttered)
These flyers are created by attaching the 8 ½ x 11 inch flyers to fluorescent colored poster board:
Position the poster board vertically and mount one flyer to each piece of poster board. The flyer can be attached with clear packing tape, using a series of horizontal tape strips that cover and protect the flyer. Alternatively, the flyer can be inserted into a clear sleeve such as those used with three-ring binders and then attached to the poster board with clear packing tape.
If desired, use a broad-tipped permanent marker and print “Call if Seen” or “Lost Dog” (which ever is not the title of the flyer) across the top in large letters.
A contact number can be printed at the bottom of the poster board. (use the same number that is on the flyer).
Should "REWARD" be Used?
Whether to put REWARD on lost dog flyers has become controversial and the use has pros and cons. The biggest reason not to include "reward" is that it can encourage people to chase the dog with undesirable consequences. It can also create scam situations. The reasons for using "reward" include that it can be an incentive for people who would not otherwise help in locating a lost dog (although in many cases "Please Help" can be more effective), it can encourage a thief to return a dog, and it can influence someone who has information on the theft to report it.
Post the Big Flyers
Post the big flyers (using a staple gun, tacks, or packing or duct tape) on telephone poles, being sure to post them at busy street corners and main intersections.
Post the Small Flyers
These flyers should be used to supplement the larger posters along roads, and can be:
Hung at locations such as supermarkets, entrances to developments or housing complexes, community bulletin boards, pet shops/groomers, and other locations that people frequent
Given to personnel at establishments such as veterinarian clinics, animal shelters, and police departments - do not overlook animal control officers
Given to individuals such as mail carriers, delivery drivers with UPS and Fed Ex, newspaper deliverers, crossing guards, and bus drivers
Put at the door of residents in the area of the lost dog***
Given to individuals willing to assist in posting the flyers
***Alternatively, a specific flyer could be made for this purpose that requests that owners search areas of their property where a dog could possibly be hiding
Visit Area Animal Shelters
It is best to actually visit these facilities and, while the dog is lost, to do so every few days if possible. While there, provide them with some small flyers so that they will have a photograph of the dog, but ask to view the dogs at the facility, including those dogs in an infirmary or quarantined area. Don't count on a staff member to know if your dog is there, or to recognize the dog as yours.
Contact Rescue Groups
The volunteers involved with these groups would likely be willing to spread the word regarding the missing dog, often learn about found dogs, and, if the dog were to enter into the care of their group, would know to notify you. Be sure to provide them with a photograph of the dog. Use resources such as Petfinder's shelter search feature to locate shelters and rescue groups in the area of the lost dog.
Visit Law Enforcement, Veterinarian,
Grooming and Other Facilities
When there, leave small flyers and request that staff be made aware of the missing dog. At the dog-related facilities, discuss with them that the dog could be brought to their location as a "found" dog or as someone's "pet."
Search - on foot and by car
Do Not Chase
Being chased can result in a lost dog being harder to capture, and can cause the dog to run further away or into traffic. Therefore, it might be best to include instructions for potential rescuers to not chase your dog, but to call with a location and attempt to keep the dog in sight. In fact, lost dogs often revert to a fight or flight mode and do not recognize or respond even to their owners. The best approach is often to gain the dog’s attention (do not stare or look intently at the dog), and get down on the ground on your back, a position which can serve to draw the dog to you. Having treats with a strong aroma can be of assistance, but depending on the level the dog is functioning at, his sense of smell could be compromised. If there are other dogs in your home, consider taking them to search with you. It can be beneficial to have a slip lead with you.
Entice the Dog to Stay In, or Come To, an Area
Water, food, items with the dog’s scent, items with worn clothing from a person closely bonded to the dog, and, if possible, some type of shelter should be placed in areas of sightings. These items can serve to motivate the dog to stay in an area and make reuniting with him easier. Grilling food on a BBQ can assist in luring a dog to an area. If you have a fenced yard, leave gates open for the dog and similarly, consider leaving the door to your home open for your dog to enter if he returns on his own.
Continue to canvas the area for the lost dog and solicit help from others in doing so
Check posters and flyers and replace when necessary
When there is a sighting
When your efforts generate sightings, it can be best not to broadcast the sightings on social media sites such as Facebook. Why? Posting a sighting on a resource such as Facebook can result in many people, with good intentions, but not following the “No Chase” approach, to try and catch your dog, further scaring him and possibly causing him to leave the area where he was sighted, reducing your chance, and the chance of informed people working with you, to get your dog. You want your posters and other methods to generate leads and sightings, but you do not want lots of people to converge on the area where your dog has been sighted. It is a balance between getting people to assist and then, when success might be close, limiting the amount of assistance and working in a coordinated manor with the people assisting.
Craigslist (post and search in the community section under pets and also under lost+found)
Check "Dogs for Adoption/Sale" Listings
Check listings for available dogs; your dog might be found by someone who misses your lost dog publicity and decides to rehome the dog, or surrenders the dog to a shelter/rescue group that is not aware of your lost dog.
Lost Dog Alerts (free and paid)
(Posters, Emails, Facebook, Phone, and Postcards)
PawBoost - input your lost pet's information and photograph and have a free, printable poster emailed to you. This poster can be emailed, for free, to shelters, veterinarians, and volunteers in your geographic area. With a paid option (three price points) called PawBoost Alert, your lost pet's information will appear in the Facebook newsfeeds of people in your local geographic area.
PetAmberAlert - choose from poster fax alerts and/or phone alerts - social media alerts are free with either option.
FindToto - phone and social media alerts
Lost My Doggie - a free lost pet flyer; free fax/email alerts to animal shelters and veterinarians; and paid phone and mail options.
Lost Pet Cards - postcard mailing alerts
If you utilize a phone alert service, request that the message ask people to search their property for the missing dog.
Write on Your Car with Window Markers
By using fluorescent window markers, you can use your car, and cars belonging to friends, to spread the word about the missing dog. Using a broad tip marker and multiple colors can make it easier to read. One option is Liquid Chalk Markers. In addition to writing on the back window of the car, attach a photograph of the dog (facing outward) to the inside of the back window, or place the photograph in a clear sleeve and tape it to the outside of the window.
If the dog has been sighted in an area, but is not approaching close enough to anyone to be "caught," consider using a humane trap such as HavAHart. To make it more likely that the dog will feel comfortable entering it, a towel or blanket can be put inside, and another can be draped over it. Use "smelly" food in the trap to attract the dog.
If your lost dog is micro-chipped, notify the micro-chip registry company so that your dog can be listed in their lost dog database and alerts can be sent out - for instance, Home Again. If the micro-chip is not registered, register it with the manufacturer and another registry such as Pet Key.
Pet Key - All micro-chip brands can be registered. Enter your dog's registered micro-chip number into the Pet Key database, report that the dog is lost, and an alert will be sent to shelters, veterinarians, and members within twenty-five miles of where the dog was last seen.
Pet Detectives and Consultants
Pet detectives provide fee-based, professional services that generally utilize law-enforcement investigative techniques as well as dogs trained in scent trailing to locate missing dogs. Some missing pet consultants are volunteer based or will offer free phone consultations; others are fee-based. Services can be located through internet searches and there are national directories:
Missing Animal Response Technicians - a national directory of MAR (Missing Animal Response) certified technicians maintained by Missing Pet Partnership
Radio and Television
Contact local radio and television stations and request that they assist in notifying the pubic about your missing dog; they will sometimes do this as a free service.
Place a lost dog ad in local newspapers and, if possible, include a photograph. Although generally not free, some newspapers will offer a discounted rate for lost dog ads. Also, read the found dog listings.
No Current Lost Dog?
If you are not currently searching for a lost dog, consider preparing materials and choosing any resources that you would use if your dog were ever to become lost. Of course, what you want to do is prevent the occurrence.