I’ve experienced this myself.
My then 6-year-old Yorkie/Pomeranian mix disappeared within just a minute or two of my inattention. It was the evening, and we were in Tucson Arizona. (See update below.)
Dogs leave for many reasons:
Whatever it is that caused your dog to disappear, the following tips will help you reunite with your lost dog quickly…
The longer you wait to initiate a search means the farther away your pet can wander and the more likely he is to become injured. So, hit the streets asking neighbors to watch for your dog as soon as you realize he’s gone.
According to a professional pet detective, 89% of lost pets are recovered when their owners search actively for them in the first 12 hours after the loss.
Here’s what to take with you:
TIP: If you spot your lost dog, don’t run after him! That will cause your dog to run away even faster. Instead, get your dog’s attention calmly, and then sit down and become very fascinated with something near you. If possible, have some of your dog’s favorite (and most aromatic!) treats on hand. Use a coaxing voice, do not look directly at your dog, and talk calmly about whatever it is you are looking at. When the dog comes near you, resist the urge to move quickly to grab him. Instead, you should keep all of your movements slow and steady so you don’t startle your dog into running off again.
Check every nook and cranny, because dogs like to explore, and they may wander off while following something that they’ve heard or seen.
Sick and injured dogs instinctively hide to protect their vulnerability.
Small dogs, in particular, can be difficult to spot if they’ve crawled into a tight spot or they’re hiding out of fear.
The power of scent is much stronger for dogs than for humans. Therefore, familiar scents could help bring your dog home. Place a recently worn item of clothing or your dog’s unwashed bedding in your yard or outside your front door where the breeze can carry the scent.
TIP: Before leaving to search the neighborhood for your lost dog, leave these items — along with some food and water — outside your front door. If they return home, they will be more likely stay and wait for you to come back.
While you’re out looking for your lost dog, if no one is at home then you’ll want to leave a message on your answering machine to alert those who call that you will return at a specified time.
That way, if someone finds your dog and calls the phone number on his ID tags, they will be assured that they will be able to touch base with you soon.
Plus, it will help to alert any friends or neighbors who might call during this time, and you might get a few more people to participate in the search for your lost dog!
TIP: You may also want to mention your cell phone number in that message, to speed up the reunion process.
It’s true, 35% find their lost dogs at local shelters.
The more you spread the word about your lost dog — which includes talking to shelters, vet clinics, and the local animal control office — the more people will be looking for your lost dog. That means your odds are better for finding him sooner, rather than later.
If your first search of the area didn’t locate your lost dog, then it’s time to hang some signs around the area.
A simple sign with a picture of your dog and your phone number should be posted on bulletin boards in nearby stores, on telephone poles, in veterinarian offices, and on street signs at major intersections.
Your signs will attract the attention of everyone who passes by the area where you dog was last seen. In one study, posted signs result in the return of 15% of lost dogs.
TIP: It might also be helpful (and a useful way to help you pass the time while your dog is missing) to create a website for your lost dog.
Some of the best places to share the details about your lost dog online include:
Is your dog on this list of most common lost dog breeds? (Sadly, my Yorkshire Terrier is on the list.)
If so, then you’ll want to be extra cautious about letting your dog out of your sight and take extra steps to prevent your dog from becoming lost in the first place:
As for my lost dog…
After a long evening of searching everywhere for this little 5-pound furball, he showed up on our front step the next morning.
Of course, he looked extremely tired, dirty, and worn out from his scary overnight adventure. Not to mention the fact that he was darn lucky the coyotes in the region didn’t have him for a late night snack! (Remember, we were in Arizona at the time.)
Fortunately, he didn’t have the urge to explore away from home anymore. He never again wandered off on us. We often wonder exactly where he went on his overnight adventure, but he never said.
I was lucky, only 8% of lost dogs return home on their own!
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