What to do if your dog runs away

by Mark James on March 15, 2011

One of the joys of owning a dog is the constant battle to impose your will over that of your pet. There’s much satisfaction to be had in training your dog to fetch your slippers, roll over or bite people you don’t like in the crotch on command, but it takes a lot of work. However, just like a married man on a stag party in Prague, when he’s off the leash he’s liable to go nuts. No matter how much a dog can be trained to come when called, some just can’t resist the temptation to leg it when the opportunity arises. Most of the time he will eventually come back to you, but there’s always the chance that he may not. So, what do you do if your dog goes AWOL?

When you realise he’s missing, you must immediately call him. Spend at least a half hour calling him by name and whistling. Circle the area where you last saw him, gradually making it wider. Ask passers-by if they’ve seen your pet and, if you’re comfortable in doing so, give them your number to ring in case they see him after you leave.

If this bears no fruit, go home. It’s possible that he may have made his way back there – hey, we’ve all seen Amazing Journey – but if not, you can begin the groundwork for the next step in your search.

lost dog leafletYou will need to get the word out to as many people as possible, and this will mean that you’ll need to do some leaflet printing. Design a flyer with a recent picture of your dog, including a physical description of him, where he was when you last saw him and your contact details. You may want to include a reward for his safe return – even a modest financial incentive could mean the difference when it comes to someone making the effort to contact you.

Printing at home could prove quite costly, so it’s worth considering a professional for your leaflet printing as it will no doubt be cheaper for bulk printing. If you have pet insurance, check your policy – it’s possible that you may get some help towards your printing costs as dog insurance policies often cover this.

In the meantime, contact the local council, police or veterinarian. If your dog has been picked up as a stray or had an accident, they will be able to tell you.

Armed with your leaflets, canvass the area where you last saw your pet. Hand out your leaflets, put them up in shop windows and post them in people’s letterboxes. You may even want to put a ‘lost dog’ advert in your local paper, and conduct a search on online lost pet databases. It’s also worth revisiting the spot where you last saw him bearing his favourite treat, as he may have returned to it.

With a lot of patience and a little luck, your dog will be returned to you with the minimum of fuss, but there are a few steps you can take to increase the odds of this happening. Make sure that your pet has a dog collar with his address on, and ensure that he is microchipped. Also, invest some time in training him to come when called. Not only will this reduce the chances of him running away, it will stimulate him mentally, lessening the chance of him becoming bored and running off. Last but not least, make sure that he is ‘fixed’ – a dog with an itch to scratch will amaze you with his efforts to go wandering to find a willing partner.

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