‘I Lost My Dog, What Do I Do?’
July is National Lost Pet Prevention Month, but it’s always the right time to learn how you can prevent your pets from becoming a statistic. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), “about 710,000 pets that enter shelters as strays each year are returned to their owners; of those, 620,000 are dogs and 90,000 are cats”. In an effort to stop this tragedy from happening to you and your family, we’ve gathered up some of the best tips that will help prevent lost pets.
Scroll to the end if you’re looking for advice on what to do if your dog is lost or missing.
1. Get a Secure Dog Collar With ID Tags
One thing you can do if your dog goes missing, is to help identify your pet, dog or cat with an ID tag that has your name and contact information. When buying a collar, ensure the fit is just right, not too tight or loose. Over time, the material of a collar can break down so regularly check the collar for wear and tear. Also, be sure that your contact info is current; any time you move or change phone numbers, change out the tag.
2. Get Your Dog Chipped
One downside to relying on just a collar is they can fall off or be taken off. Microchipping your dog or cat can increase the chances of reuniting with a lost pet. We recommend that you do both — ID collar and microchip — because if your dog wanders off and a neighbor finds it, they can call you. Households don’t have microchip scanners!
How to get a dog microchipped
Contact your veterinarian or local dog shelter. If they don’t do pet microchipping, they know how to get a dog microchipped and can refer you.
A veterinarian implants a microchip under your pet’s skin, and you register the microchip online, usually for a small fee. They are, after all, providing the technology to reconnect lost pets, so the fee is worth it.
We suggest saving the microchip company’s information in your browser’s bookmarks so you don’t have to dig up the information years down the road when and if your dog wanders off.
How long does a microchip work?
Pet microchips typically last 25 years, but check with your veterinarian or the maker of the lost dog microchip.
How does a microchip work on lost pets
If your pet ever gets lost, a vet or animal shelter can quickly scan the rice-sized chip under the skin and find your pet’s name and your contact info. Similar to an ID tag, you must keep your contact information up-to-date for your pet’s microchip.
3. Secure Your Home and Yard
How do dogs get lost? Pets escape unsecured homes and yards every day. If your dog tends to bolt out an exterior door when you open it, place him in a gated area or in a room with a door he can’t open. Outside, you must make sure your fence is tall enough so your dog can’t jump over and that there are no gaps or areas he can squeeze through. To prevent your pet from tunneling his way out under the fence place rocks or chicken wire at the base, around the entire perimeter.
4. Walk Your Dog On a Leash at All Times
Most communities have leash laws fining dog owners that walk their pet leash-free. Even if there are no local ordinances you should always walk your dog on a leash. Ensure the leash is appropriate for your dog’s size and weight. A shorter leash keeps you in control and protects your pet as well as others along your journey.
5. Spay or Neuter Your Pets
Did you know that intact dogs have a strong, natural drive to seek out a mate, so much so, that preventing them from escaping may prove impossible? Dumb Friends League reports that neutering male dogs “decreases sexual roaming in about 90% of cases.” Spaying female dogs can help prevent pet overpopulation which decreases the number of dogs on the streets or in shelters.
6. Pay Attention to Your Dog and Surroundings
Any time you take your dog somewhere, pay attention to him and the surroundings. Never leave your dog unsupervised regardless of the time or place. Once your pet is out of your eyesight, means you’ve enabled an opportunity for your pet to get lost, injured, or stolen.
7. Teach Your Dog “Come” and “Stay” Commands
It’s common for dogs to get excited about pretty much anything that crosses their path, like a squirrel or rabbit. If your dog views you as his leader and knows the “come” and “stay” commands, he’s more likely to stop.
Learn more about the train, treat, repeat method of dog training using positive reinforcement and The BarxBuddy ultrasonic training device.
8. Practice Pet Safety in the Car
Safely restraining your dog while in a vehicle is crucial to keeping him from bolting when the door opens or being injured in the case of an accident. Remember, NEVER leave your pet unattended in a car. Someone could steal him, he could run away if a window is down far enough, or he could die from heatstroke.
9. Keep Your Dog Safe Indoors
According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), more dogs go missing around the fourth of July holiday than any other time of the year. Pets flee during this period for a few reasons. Too many people around the house and the sound of fireworks often trigger anxiety, even intense fear in some animals. Responses range from hiding under the covers to running away. Leaving your pet outdoors while you are away or asleep is also an easy way for your pet to disappear. Instead, keep your pet safe inside. For pets that are fearful of loud noises like fireworks mask the sounds with something familiar and soothing to your pet like a TV show or radio station.
What to Do If Your Pet Goes Missing?
If you practice all of the above tips and somehow your dog still ends up missing, here is what to do if you lose your dog:
- Search your neighborhood
- Contact local animal shelters and control agencies
- Post notices and flyers around your neighborhood
- Post a notice of your missing pet on your personal social media and any local lost and found groups
- Search missing dog website databases like:
Last, but not least, don’t give up. Pets and their owners have been reunited after being lost for weeks, months, even years.