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My Dog Ran Away! What Should I Do?

Updated: Jul 11, 2020

It’s pretty much every dog owner’s worst nightmare—your pup slips his leash and starts sprinting after a squirrel. Or maybe you go outside to find that someone forgot to close the gate, and your dog is nowhere to be found. No matter how it happened, losing a dog is always devastating. You’ll be filled with panic, heartbreak, and the instinctive urge to do something—even if you don’t know what that something is. Your chances of bringing your dog home safely will improve greatly if you know exactly what to do. Remember these six steps the next time your dog runs away.

1. Start Searching, But Don’t Panic

Panicking will only work against you. If you need a moment to collect yourself, do it. When your head is clear and you’re ready to go, start by searching your immediate area and let your neighbors know. Dogs that wander out of open gates can often be found casually sniffing the neighbor’s tree or visiting other pets that live nearby. Knock on your neighbor’s doors and tell them what happened. Don’t forget to bring a picture of your pup for reference and a few high value treats.

2. Spread Out

Grab your phone and file missing reports with the Humane Society, SPCA, and if you adopted a #rescuedog contact the rescue. Often when dogs run away, they’re picked up by good Samaritans and taken to shelters. When you hang up the phone, gather your family and friends to organize a larger search party. Think about your dog’s habits and pick a radius around the spot where you last saw him. If you have a Vizsla that‘s used to running for miles, your search perimeter should be fairly large. But if you have a Pug who prefers to spend his days snoozing, focus on a smaller area.

3. Search Smart

While you’re out searching, you’ll want to look in every backyard or alley, but you’re better off thinking strategically. Dogs tend to end up going to familiar places. If there’s a park nearby where your pup loves to walk, or if they have a canine buddy you frequently visit a few streets down, those are good places to start. Also remember that dogs follow their stomachs and their sniffers. Local restaurants may lead your pup straight to their doorsteps—or the back alley where they keep their trash.

4. Post on Social Media

Get the word out quickly by posting #lostdog on your personal page, but also look for community pages where your message will reach more people. Most areas have Facebook pages dedicated to finding lost animals. Other good options are NextDoor, Fido Finder, or a database called Helping Lost Pets that alerts members in your area and they also create free flyers and social media links to use.

Things to include in your post: a recent photo, details about his last seen location, contact person, along with any other important information.

5. Visit Your Local Shelter

Shelters are busy places, especially around the 4th of July. We recommend driving to your local shelter and asking to see their recent intakes yourself. Check out the kennels and if your pup's not there, leave your name and number with a second person.

6. Check The Microchip Registry

Hopefully, your dog was microchipped when you adopted him. A microchip is a great way to protect your dog from being lost forever. If he shows up at a shelter, animal control, or a vets office they will scan his microchip to find you.

If you haven’t registered your dogs microchip or updated your information recently, now is the time to log in and make sure all your information is up to date. 

Enjoy your summer celebrations with family and friends and remember to look out for your doggos too. Fireworks can be really scary and more dogs get lost during the month of July than any other month.


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