A sad lost dog making eye contact

I Lost My Dog. What Can I Do Now?

Don’t panic; you’re already doing the right thing: researching what to do next to find your best friend.  

Here are a few tips to find your lost dog quickly and safely: 

How to find a lost dog  

Start looking for your dog immediately.

It takes time for your dog to get very far, and chances are if they just wandered off, you may be able to find them yourself quickly. Search for your missing pet within a two-mile radius and try enlisting the help of local friends and family in your search (especially if your dog already knows and trusts them).  

Bring along a beloved snack or toy, something comforting and reassuring from home. Call out words your dog will recognize and respond to, including their name and verbal offers like “dinner” or “treat.” If your dog responds to the sound of a favorite squeaky toy or a shake of the treat bag, take that too. 

If you or the rest of your search party see your dog, remember not to run or chase. Your dog might be scared and see that as a threat, or they might think it’s a game and they should run away. Either way, calmly approaching your dog and letting them come to your calls is the best plan when you find a lost dog

Report your lost dog to the local authorities.

When it comes to locating a lost pet, remember that you don’t have to do it alone; you can always ask for help. Call in a lost-pet report to the police, local animal shelters, animal control agencies or animal hospitals right away. When you report your lost dog, be sure to include: 

  • Breed
  • Hair/coat color and length
  • Any special or recognizable markings
  • Age
  • Size
  • Ear shape (long or short, droopy or pointed)

Let them know your pet’s name, if they tend to be friendly, skittish or aggressive around strangers, and the last time and place you saw them. If your dog is at all anxious, it’s also a good idea to mention any sensitivities or fears they have.  

Some larger cities may have quite a few shelters, so be sure to contact all the organizations in your area. Overall, make sure there is no shortage of assistance in finding your best friend! 

Report your lost dog online. 

A lot of digital resources exist to help you find your lost pet online. Resources like PetLink help reunite pets with their human families, and you can report a found or lost pet through their online portal. Include the same details you did in the report you made to your local authorities and get to work spreading the word. 

Create lost-dog signs to let your neighborhood know.

A simple and effective way to get the word out about your missing friend is to make posters and fliers using your pet’s photo. But don’t only put them where your dog went missing; let people know about your lost pup with fliers in post offices, libraries, pet supply stores and veterinary clinics. Be sure to include your preferred contact information so people can reach out to you if they see your dog. 

You can also place ads in local newspapers or newsletters to let even more people know. While you’re there, look for “found” ads that may report your pet’s discovery. 

Post about your lost dog on social media.

You can also use social media to alert friends in your area to keep an eye out for your lost dog. It’s easy for friends and family to share your dog’s picture and details with local groups they might be in, which increases the searchable area and the number of people looking for your dog.   

How to prepare and plan so your dog won’t get lost (or stay lost for long) 

As a pet parent, you love your dog and want to keep them safe and happy. Here are some steps you can take now to help prevent losing your dog, and to ensure they can get home to you as soon as possible if they ever do wander off: 

  • Make sure your dog has up-to-date and easy-to read identification. Tags are the first place anyone will look to try to help your dog find you, so this is the simplest way to prepare. 
  • Talk to your vet about microchipping services for your pet. Microchipping is a great way to ensure your pet will have identification (because there’s always a chance they can get separated from their tags). 
  • Save the number for your local animal control department or police non-emergency number in your phone. 
  • Know what steps to take if you find a lost dog; that way you’ll know what others will probably be doing to try to find you! 

No one wants to lose their dog, even for a few moments. One of the best ways to keep your dog safe is to be as prepared as possible — especially if you plan to travel with your dog or are moving to a new home and need to make your yard a safe place for your dog to play. 

It’s hard to imagine the importance of using tags and microchips until you need them. You’ll be glad you took precautions, even if you never need them!  

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