Finding a Lost Dog

Searching for a lost pet can be stressful, but knowing how to go about your search could save you precious time and, in turn, save your dog's life.

Start by Looking Close to Home

First, search your home and property. Small dogs can get into some pretty odd spaces, such as behind a washer, dryer, dishwasher or bookcase, under furniture, in closets, in cabinets or crawl spaces, under your car or your porch (even underneath your house), or he could be hiding in a barn or shed.

Next, take a friend or family member with you and walk around your neighborhood, talking with as many people as you can: the mail carrier, delivery services or neighbors. Someone may have noticed a strange vehicle or activity in the area.

On your local walk, bring a flashlight with you. If your dog is injured, he'll likely hide in a dark place. Check out dumpsters, doorways, storage sheds, garages, even trash cans. You might also want to bring his favorite squeaky toy with you, or make a noise or a call that would bring him running. Carry a box of his favorite treats and rattle them as you call him.

When you get home, put some of your used gym clothes outside in a box, or use his dog bedding to give him a familiar scent to detect. His incredible sense of smell could guide him home quickly.

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Flyers and posters are effective ways to find lost pets. In fact, they yield the highest amount of results. The more you can post, the better. But NEVER put your name and address on a flyer. Use 8 1/2 x 11 fluorescent paper so it gets noticed. List the date and location of your dog's disappearance. Include a detailed description, but don't give away all of the identifying markings of your dog. If someone calls claiming to have found your pet, you want to have a few key attributes to question them on to make sure he or she really has your pet.

Don't forget local newspapers or advertising circulars. Many newspapers will run lost dog ads for free.

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Call Local Veterinarians & Shelters

Talk to veterinarians in your area to see if your dog was admitted for treatment. After 5:00 pm, check with the emergency animal clinics that are close by. If an office gives you even a remotely similar description to your dog, visit them in person. Your description and theirs will rarely be an exact match, so be sure to check out any possible leads with your own eyes.

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Beware of Lost Dog Scams

There are people who use lost pets to lure victims to their homes. Never go to pick up your dog alone always take a friend (or two) with you, and always meet in a public place. Never invite the person who says he or she has found your dog to your home, either.

Other scammers make up stories to get rewards. A common one is that a tourist or long-distance truck driver picked up your pet, but is now out of town. They'll ship it to you if you send the reward or pay to ship it home.

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Protect Your Dog Now

If you're like most pet parents, you take a lot of photos of your dog. Snap away! Those pictures could have a lot more than sentimental value some day. Take lots of close-up shots, and be sure to capture any unique characteristics.

Train your dog to respond positively to a dog whistle. This unusual, high-pitched whistle is sensitive to most dogs' ears, but if you blow it right before you feed him, he'll come running.

Make sure his tags are up to date and have your current phone number on them. Many owners opt for trackable microchips that can be safely and harmlessly implanted into your dog's skin by your veterinarian. The chip transmits reliable identification to all modern shelters, which scan all pets for these devices.

The last thing to remember is, DON'T give up! Many dogs are lost for months before being safely reunited with their owners.

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