8 Helpful Tips for Finding Your Lost Dog
Are you searching for your lost dog and wondering what to do?
We know the feeling: that heart-breaking, gut-wrenching moment when you realize your canine best friend has escaped and you have no idea where they are. It is overwhelming and terrifying for a pet parent, but don’t panic – we are here to help.
While you should always take steps to raise local awareness regardless of your lost pet’s species (and you should read that article first if you have not already), effective boots-on-the-ground search measures for a lost dog differ from those for a lost cat or other type of missing pet.
Thanks to tips from our Rescue Squad members, we’ve provided a list of the most immediate steps to take as soon as possible in a missing dog scenario.
Step 1: Check for your lost dog inside your home.
It may be the most obvious place to start, but your pups may sometimes hide in unexpected places as they engage in curious play or if they become frightened. Be sure to check the dark, small places your dog may seek out for a hiding spot, such as in or around appliances, under beds, in closets, behind other bulky furniture, etc.
Dog parents should also search around areas located near dryer vents, especially when the vent is on as a heat source. The ASPCA recommends calling for your dog while shaking their food dish or a treat dish to potentially help coax them out of their hiding, play or napping place.
Step 2: Recruit a lost dog search party.
After you have conducted a thorough search of your home for your missing fur baby, it’s important to begin the on-the-ground search efforts as soon as possible. Raising awareness about your lost pup in the first few hours after you realize she is missing will greatly increase your odds of a happy reunion.
In the critical first days of a missing dog scenario, there are a multitude of tasks and search efforts that need to be done to help bring your furry loved one home, so getting help from others is key. Call on the friends or family who you trust to assist in your search efforts and begin to build your search party.
Your search party can help in many ways, including physically searching locations near where your pup got out, printing and distributing lost dog flyers around the neighborhood and nearby local businesses, and staking out areas where your pup is likely to visit or return to (such as the home when you are out searching).
Step 3: Notify neighbors and community members.
Contact members of your neighborhood, community (e.g. mail men, construction workers, municipal workers who are stationed outside) and the staff of local businesses in highly trafficked areas to keep an eye out and/or confirm any potential sightings of your pup.
Plan to have a thorough description of your dog ready to share and always be sure to provide your up-to-date contact information should anyone need to reach you after spotting or coming into contact with your fur baby.
Bringing lost dog flyers as leave behinds will make sure that the people you talk to are equipped with all the necessary information to aid in your reunion.
Step 4: Focus your search near your lost dog’s last known location.
While dogs are more likely than cats to have travelled further from the home, the search should still begin close to the last known location.
You can start by canvassing the neighborhood on foot, loudly (but as calmly as possible) calling for your dog – remember: he or she knows and respond to your voice!
Dogs typically travel between 1-3 miles of the escape point in the first 24 hours, so limit your search within that range for the initial search effort. You may consider expanding your search area as time passes to accommodate for your dog’s potentially widened travel range.
Schedule some of the heavier searches during times when your neighborhood or communities are quieter (early morning, evening or during the day when folks are at work) so that your pup can better hear your calls.
Step 5: Bring a furry buddy.
If your dog has a buddy (either a second pet or a consistent walk/play partner), you may also want to bring that animal along for part of the search effort.
The presence of a friendly furry friend may help coax your pup from a hiding place.
Step 6: Use the power of scent to attract your lost dog.
You can attempt to lure your dog home by appealing to their keen sense of smell… and “always on” appetites.
Set up a feeding station that you can monitor during the day or with a wildlife camera filled with puppy’s favorite treats or strong-smelling meats. The feeding station should be placed in a quiet, safe place ideally in the back of your home.
You may also consider placing your dog’s favorite blanket/bedding or a familiar piece of clothing with your scent on it outside of the house to help guide your beloved tracker back home.
Remember: A dog’s nose is far more powerful than yours. Using this to your advantage can be the key to your happy reunion.
Step 7: Don’t give up!
Hopefully, all of these tips will lead to a speedy reunion with your lost dog – but should the search require more time, don’t lose hope.
It’s likely that your lost dog is scared and hiding somewhere nearby, or has been picked up by a Good Samaritan who is searching for the dog’s family.
So keep up the search! If you get discouraged, read our Happy Tails for stories of other pet parents who have reunited with their loved ones. Sometimes, all you need is a little encouragement to regain hope.
Know of any additional tips for finding a lost dog that have worked for you or a friend? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can add them to this list and help other dog owners reunite with their precious pups!
DeniseMay 22, 2018 at 3:50 PM
Any time I see a lost pet posting, I say
Post on PawBoost also. Lots of lost pets and lots of reunited. Good luck 🍀
I also add (lots of lost and stolen pets) if a pet has been stolen.
I LOVE the fact that you post “reunited”
posts. There seems to be a lot of success for pet owners searching for their beloved pets. Thank you for what you do!
RaeMay 22, 2018 at 3:53 PM
Most importantly post on social media , FB INSTAGRAM
Catherine CarterMay 26, 2018 at 11:42 PM
We don’t have Facebook. Will someone please let Local Facebook people know?
Kathy KeysDecember 13, 2019 at 12:15 PM
I found this sweet little dog I do not know his name
JazminJanuary 1, 2020 at 5:46 PM
is it a boy ?
ZakMarch 5, 2020 at 3:14 AM
Is he a small black and white mail about 30 lbs?He is pigeon toed,and has a white tip on his tail¿?
Gerri CageMarch 5, 2020 at 6:32 AM
KellyJanuary 11, 2020 at 10:18 AM
What color is it and what species?
Gerri E CageMarch 5, 2020 at 6:32 AM
White with brown on his ears
SandyMarch 30, 2020 at 10:57 PM
Cocker Spaniel, beige or like gold no tail, haven’t been able to find her please e-mail me please.
LindaSeptember 14, 2020 at 4:32 PM
Thank you we are putting flyers up now!
Shirley HaynesJanuary 20, 2021 at 11:10 PM
What area? And how does he look?
Brittney L PinkhamApril 13, 2021 at 7:43 PM
Is the dog a boy? And where did you rind him
Deaundra A BellApril 3, 2021 at 7:35 AM
I still haven’t found Prada i miss her so much i hope she ok i hope she didnt get hit by a car omg i been crying since i lost her she my baby Prada is a black and tan miniature pinscher chihuahua and she has a name tag and is microchipped
Michelle PhillipsApril 29, 2021 at 9:56 PM
Milo is still gone but im thank you for doing what you do.
Karen BryanJune 12, 2021 at 4:26 AM
I am trying to post on fb not having a lot of luck. Can someone possibly post for us?
Charlie is lost. REWARD
RED female Cockapoo 25-30 lbs
Last scene near Magic Mpuntain Parkway and Fairways., from an apt on Riverchase at the Promenade apts
RaeMay 22, 2018 at 3:53 PM
Use social media!
Katy BaldwinDecember 19, 2019 at 9:31 PM
No that’s not my dog mine is all white big bone German shepherd and i call him play boy
rosa l johnsonMay 22, 2018 at 5:56 PM
Thanks for the info. Much needed. my Yorkie runs off every chance he gets. I walk him every day so he knows his way back home. But if someone were to take him, these tips would help get him back.
BrandonDecember 26, 2019 at 3:44 PM
Looking for a small tan terrier mix dog he is older with some grey hairs around his chin he got out Christmas Eve night. Any help will be greatly appreciated. He has been in the family for 13 years.
Mary AnnMay 22, 2018 at 10:45 PM
How about making sure they have ID with your name and contact info on the pup (ID tag or collar) and also up to date microchip info?
EsmeraldaJuly 31, 2018 at 6:58 PM
She got stolen on the January 16 ,2017 but she is a female Husky grey and white . She is microchip
Debbie valFebruary 26, 2019 at 9:55 AM
Yo is she all grown up am sure if so she was at my school in Bakersfield
EGSeptember 8, 2020 at 10:10 PM
What r u guys talking about?????????????????!!!!!!!!!
Sheri MoodyOctober 4, 2019 at 3:28 PM
did u evever grt her back
Valerie DionisioAugust 18, 2018 at 6:29 PM
My dog somehow chews the collar off with the pet id
LuzFebruary 17, 2020 at 2:08 PM
No he have npt with the right owner my dog sitt miss he stitt miss since september 13 ,2019 he been miss since september 13,2019 and November and december and january and Ferbuary 2020 he been miss since please if seen him makens should that been if seen him please retun him safe please retun my dog please retun my dog please send him take him to animales sheltter please him safe. My dog we miss .
JoMay 25, 2018 at 1:11 PM
I think putting your scent (dirty laundry) outside should be first in the list. Its fast, easy, and free, and it often works. The other hints are good too, and should be done immediately after you put out the dirty laundry
Naomi RobertsMay 26, 2018 at 12:46 AM
Thanks for your advice however we live in PA and my son only gets thru that area ever couple weeks. He does stop and drives around the area and.talking to a lot of people in the area and putting up posters. We’re so sad!! It’s been over a month. Fearful that an animal or eagle got her.
ErinMay 26, 2018 at 4:26 AM
You are making a huge difference in lives of these pets, and their caring owners! Thank you!
MikeApril 10, 2020 at 5:49 PM
Mine was stolen on March 13th, 2020 from so. Waco and the police basically told me they’re not wasting time on it.He,s a med. size, 1 1/2 yr.old mix,(pit & redbone hound).They should upgrade the chip to GPS trackable.
MelanieAugust 1, 2020 at 11:55 PM
GPS need battery changes, microchips are RFIDs. They sell tags with GPS trackers in them that you can attach to collars.
Harry ValdezMay 28, 2018 at 3:18 AM
My sister in-law Tammy told me about you guys on facebook and I jump at the opportunity to post the information about my lost dog she is my baby and support of my life. She did tell me it was you guys that helped find her dog when it was lost.
Lorie A PinerMarch 15, 2020 at 4:25 PM
My dog need to come back soon she is in need of medical help because of her heart ben gone for almost 2weeks her name is patches she is black with a white face some long hair but she looks like a puppy but she is 8 years old don’t play just like to lay around most of the time has a hard time breathing when she walk to far away rides in the wheelchair with me
RuthJune 6, 2018 at 8:52 AM
While I agree with most of this article, I disagree to calling for the dog when out searching and away from home. I think it best to only LOOK because calling for him from places other than home can confuse the pup about which direction is home. Calling from home frequently and especially during the night when sounds travel best should be the only type of verbal search. Also, posting to nextdoor.com is another valuable social media tool. Thank you for what you do!
HarryJune 6, 2018 at 4:18 PM
we have a lot of success using http://www.nextdoor.com, the local neighborhood social network. Check if there’s one in your area. Not only can the neighbors look out for the lost pet but they can also give tips for local vets or shelters you could check on. it’s a great website. Used to be connected directly with pawboost but for some reason they are not linking another anymore.
And PLEASE CHIP YOUR PETS!
Sharmane HunleyJune 6, 2018 at 5:25 PM
I am still Looking for BABY I will never give please say a big prayer for all the fur baby that are missing is breaks my heart that my BABY is out there with out my family he is very loved and he lived a very sheltered life with love and lots affections so please pray the LORD bring him home to his family thanks for all the sharing and looking. if you would happen to see him call me any time of day. Please help me find him I want a happy ending he is listed on paw Boost his Id Number (314) 753-6533
email@example.com, my heart is just so broken I have been over in the area I did spot him at first and then after days went by nothing so please help me, find my BABY
TabathaJune 7, 2018 at 6:11 PM
I’m not on Facebook but I am on instagram but I do get your all’s emails BUT the weird thing is sometimes I get emails on dogs that are found/returned but didn’t get a email that the animal was missing??? But I do get emails on animals missing but not always & that’s the weird part when they show up found
PawBoostJune 8, 2018 at 12:51 PM
Hi Tabatha! We do send out emails as soon as a pet is reported Lost (owner searching for pet), Found (finder searching for owner) and Reunited (pet is home safe with owner). I suggest checking your spam folder for missing emails or you can contact our Reunion Support Team and we can look into this for you 🙂
JenniferJune 8, 2018 at 2:52 PM
I agree. And when you put signs out, but them both in Spanish and English. It was my Spanish signs that got the hit. My dog, Emmy was lost for 34 days. On day 28, I knew where her location was, but she was so scared she either ran away or was hiding. It took me 6 days of feeding her, and on the last day, I used a human animal trap to catch her. I kept looking for her for 34 days. I’m so glad I found her.
AprilAugust 31, 2018 at 4:22 PM
This seems like a great site! I hope it brings our Harley home. Thanks for all you do!
Victoria cutajarOctober 13, 2018 at 6:48 PM
I have lost my dog squash his a blk pug 😢his 13 years old his unwel and I have searched everywere I walked three hours last
Night I am sick to my stomach I live in hillside please it would have been 1am he got out on hill crest drive in hillside 3037 melb
KatyNovember 22, 2018 at 12:09 AM
Always check any local trash bins. Especially the ones behind grocery stores and restaurants. I found my lost dog there (twice!)
Kristen GiffordMarch 2, 2019 at 6:23 PM
My dog gets out to play with the other ones on the street but dometimes can’t get back in. We think.that’s what happened last night because in a 30 min window of my neighbor leaving and me getting home. My dog was gone. My neighbor checked his cameras and saw that a man in a black truck got out and took him from by the gate the camera didnt get a good look at the plate. And we haven’t gotten him chipped yet. He’s an older dog a German Shepard.
TricksieAugust 10, 2019 at 12:29 PM
I am doing all this and more. I just want my baby back.
Beverly TatmanSeptember 7, 2019 at 2:57 PM
Daisey is a brown chuhuahua She was wearing a blue color, very mild temperament, ,
we just want her back. she has been sincejuly19 of july of this year
Roddie StelleNovember 3, 2019 at 1:45 AM
Post on your local and area NextDoor neighborhoods with a photo!! For dogs that are lost, strays that are found, and sighted dogs with a photo and where last seen. There is an amazing success rate on dogs and cats getting back home because of posts on NextDoor, under the Lost and Found category. It is local and really makes a difference.!! Animal lovers go on it regularly to help find lost pets.
anna delsorboJuly 6, 2020 at 8:11 PM
Thank you for all your tips and advice to find your pet. we read and did everything you had suggested. We are so grateful. Layla came home!!!
Most of all your prayers were heard loud and clear. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.:>)
MichelleAugust 1, 2020 at 5:13 PM
EVERYONE EVERYWHERE…IF U ARE MISSING YOUR PET …CAT DOG…BIRD…WHATEVER ANIMAL….PETHARBOR.COM SHOWS ANIMALS IN SHELTERS IN MOST CITIES ALL ACROSS THE UNITED STATES. PAWBOOST IS THE BEST PLACE TO POST AND ALSO TO SEARCH BUT TO SEARCH SHELTERS PLEASE VISIT PETHARBOR.COM
I RAY EVERYONE FINDS THEIR MISSING PETS
ALSO CONTACT YOUR LOCAL ANIMAL CONTROL TO REPORT YOUR PET MISSING AS WELL AS MICROCHIP CO IF MICROCHIPPED.
KEEP COLLAR W TAGS AND YOUR CONTACT INFO ON YOUR PET AT ALL TIMES…REFLECTIVE COLLARS ARE BEST
Shaunia CooksAugust 14, 2020 at 12:38 AM
Please help me find my blue-nose pit bull. He has a blue flee collar. He went missing in the area of Resica Falls. He is approximately 9 months old. He is grayish. He responds to the name Bully. Please if you think it’s him please contact my number at 3477319462 or my email which will be listed. Please, I miss my Bully!
ConnieSeptember 10, 2020 at 6:39 PM
Two things I have noticed working in lost and found, if people want to steal a dog, they go right into the fence of people who work and leave their dog out alone–seems to happen often. Have ID on your pet at all times, microchip and register and notify the company if your dog gets lost immediately. On line is a company that sells a very sturdy collars with the name and phone number embroidered so it can be seen from a distance. and in the dark. The co. name is snazzyfido. I think they make cat collars also. My most important suggestion is to look with your own eyes at all local shelters regularly. I volunteered at a great shelter for many years and the most beautiful dogs, trained well cared for often didn’t get claimed because people call shelters but don’t visit and look in every cage regularly until your pet is found–cats also.
Mary Ellen ThomasJanuary 10, 2021 at 10:54 PM
Always notify animal control they are awesome
Brittany SkalmanFebruary 11, 2021 at 4:13 AM
Our dog went missing tonight at Del Mar dog beach in San Diego, he is a long tailed German short haired pointer, I’ve already posted through paw boost but if you have any other recommendations please let me know. My brain is an emotional mess right now. Thank you so much in advance.
Victoria LoveslaughterApril 12, 2021 at 1:21 PM
My sweet mini Schnauzer fur kid, Bellini, is missing from North Sacramento since 4/10… I’m beside myself with grief, wondering what on Earth has happened to her… nobody seems to have seen her at all. We all want her home, her sister doesn’t know what to do, she just keeps on looking at me like, ‘where is she mom?’Bellini come home, we miss you baby!
Looking for pug :(May 27, 2021 at 11:27 PM
There are cruel people in the world where you could have an expensive dog and wont give it back! My dog (a beige 2 and a half year old male pug) has been missing since yesterday in Edinburg. I have a feeling that they took him into their “home” and has him hostage. I really wish he can be found or returned to the animal shelter so that they can call us thru the chips registered phone number. He’s our best friend and we love him. We are so heart broken and devastated that this had to happen. If found, please return him 🙁 I have been a crying mess. I have no idea what to do. Please dont keep him 🙁 We are still on the lookout for him. Buddy, my friend, please return safety to us. We all miss you and love you. Hopefully you find your way back to us. As a reminder, i have your collar here with me before i sleep (ofc I cry first). We will never stop looking for him nor thinking about him. We love you boy 🙁
KIM KINGJuly 5, 2021 at 10:10 PM
Jkii I’m hoping someone will return my puppies snuggles is a very fearful puppy and he’s very scary when people run out of him snuggles weigh 18 lbs he’s a bichon Furious and I love them so very much I wish someone would just return him I’m so heartbroken