Search the House
When you first notice that your dog is missing, check everywhere in the house. Ask everyone who lives with you when they saw your dog last. Rattle a bag of treats, squeak their favourite toy, make any sound that always gets their attention (pouring or opening their food etc). The dog may be hiding and will often come out if he is motivated.
Collect scent articles from your dog such as bedding, sweaters, toys, anything they would have their scent on recently and store each one in its own zip lock bag. This will be helpful in the case of needing to use a tracking dog to help in the search.
Search the Neighborhood
Gather supplies such as a leash, collar, and your dog’s favorite squeaky toy. Walk the sidewalks near your home while calling out for the dog by name and squeaking the toy. Look in yards, parks, and other places a friendly dog may look for attention. Look under porches, beneath cars, and behind garages to find a timid dog.
Walk or ride around your neighborhood in a 5-mile radius to search. Encourage someone to ride with you, and drive slowly while your passenger calls the dog from open car windows. Squeeze the squeaky toy, because dogs can hear familiar sounds from a long distance.
Most likely, the dog will find its way back to your home within a few hours, but if not, don’t panic, and continue the search. Ask neighbors if they have seen your pet. Bring a photo of your dog to show them so he can easily be identified.
Telephone your neighbors and nearby friends to see if anyone has seen the dog running loose. Instruct them to notify you immediately if they see your pet. Give them your cell phone number, if applicable, and your home phone number.
Telephone your veterinarian’s office to report the dog missing and ask if anyone has recovered the dog. Often a rabies vaccination collar tag has the vet’s contact information on it, and the finder may have taken that route to find you.
Contact your town’s animal control officer, who is usually contacted when an animal shelter or rescue has found a pet. The police department or township office may assist with contacting the officer or may have heard from the officer.
Create a Flyer
Create a “lost dog” flyer. Type “Lost Dog” on the top of the flyer in very large print to be seen by passers-by. Paste a large photo of your dog on the page with a description of your dog, its personality, and where it was last seen. Warn others about any negative temperament qualities of the dog — if it bites, is standoffish, or gets irritated when approached by strangers.
Print color copies of the flyer so that passers-by may see the coloring, markings, and general appearance of the dog. Post the flyers on telephone poles and in grocery stores, laundry-mats, and other nearby facilities. In school or park areas, post the flyers at a child’s eye level.
Post a newspaper ad in your local paper describing the dog briefly, and remember to include your first name and phone number. Enter the information on the Internet, and search online for any found dogs in your area. Visit lost dog forums to find or release information about your dog.
Keep At It
Check in with neighbors, shelters, rescue groups and animal control officers daily for updates.
Wait patiently while going about your normal, daily routines. It’s important for you to keep your efforts focused, but not to overreact and allow the loss of your pet to consume your every thought. It’s not healthy for you or your family. Most likely, someone will contact you after finding the dog.
After finding your pet, thank all the people and organizations who helped you, and notify all contacted people that your pet has been returned so they may end their search efforts. Remove all flyers from poles and businesses.
Tips & Warnings
- You may need permission from your town to post “lost dog” flyers in public areas.
- When using the car to find your dog, ensure that someone is with you so you may concentrate on driving safely.
- Be aware of people contacting you with a found dog. Some people may not have the best intentions and may attempt to scam you due to your vulnerability.