What to do if your dog’s doggone

Some breeds of dog are real homebirds. There’s nothing they like more than to curl up at your feet in front of the TV and doze. They always like to be by your side, and probably fret a little when you leave for work, and get over-excited when you return. There is another type of pooch, however; one whose curiosity or urge to run gets the better of him – and is therefore liable to go missing.

It may be that he’s like a Labrador – lovable but a little dim, and liable to lose his way. Alternatively, he may be a sighthound, like a whippet, whose prey drive takes over when confronted by a smaller animal. Either way, your dog will usually come back to you, but we all live in fear of the time that he doesn’t.

If your pooch disappears, it’s important to remain calm and act appropriately. If you’re out walking him when he vanishes, spend some time calling him by name. Patrol the area where you last saw him (making sure that you don’t ironically become lost yourself) and even ask passers-by if they have seen him. You could always give them your phone number so they can contact you if they come across him after you’ve left, but exercise a lot of caution if you do.

If you’re still folornly clutching a dog lead with no dog on the end of it, make your way home. It’s always possible that he’s gone home himself – even if he hasn’t, it’s time to draw up the next part of your search and rescue plan.

It may be time to contact any vets in your area, the police and the local council. If he has been in an accident, they may well have come across him. With the authorities on alert, you should get the word out about your wayward pet. Design a poster or flyer featuring his picture that you can hand out in your neighbourhood. Think about offering a reward, as this could spur someone into contacting you if they have seen your dog. The quality of anything you print is important – if printing at home, your neighbours may end up looking for a black and white blob on four legs. It’s well worth visiting a print shop for some professional flyer printing – not only will your dog be recognisable, but you will probably save money if you do a modestly sized print run.

Start handing your flyers out in the area where your pet did a runner. You can ask shopkeepers to put them up in their windows, or post them through letterboxes. Be sure to visit the spot with a handful of his favourite treats, and check any websites that have a database of lost and found pets. Have some faith, put in some legwork, and your pet will be back where he belongs in no time.

Of course, prevention is always better than a cure. Take some time to condition your pet to come to you when called, and make sure that he is microchipped to increase his chances of being reunited with his family.