No pet parent would want to have his or her dog go missing. It simply is unthinkable. And while pet parents think that their dogs will never run away or go missing, studies show that about a third of dogs will eventually go missing at some point in the course of their existence. Knowing how to prevent your dog from going missing and what to do in case your pet does run away should help you feel more empowered about such eventualities. Learning of different things you can do to help you locate your pet will also make you better equipped to address such issues should they arise.
Prevent Your Dog from Running Away
There are many reasons why dogs run away from home. Dogs can go missing because of the perceived presence of something ‘more interesting’ beyond the borders of the home. It can be another animal or dog to investigate or even challenge or it could be because of the delicious aroma of food emanating from the other block. Some dogs love to chase cars while others run away because of fear. Whatever the case, there are some ways you can do to prevent your dog from running away.
Early Obedience Training Using Positive Reinforcement Techniques
Obedience training is crucial to ensuring your dog comes to you the moment you call its name. While this is no guarantee that your pet will not run away especially if you’re not around to call it to come back, it somehow instills discipline in your dog so that it knows its ‘boundaries’. You need to train your pet using positive reinforcement techniques. One of the reasons pets run away is that they don’t feel loved by their human family. While it is okay to be firm in your training, you should also temper this with kindness. Being consistent and persevering in your training sessions can go a long way towards instilling a sense of trust in your dog. If your dog learns that you can be trusted to take good care of it, then it will have no reason to run away.
Consider Neutering or Spaying Your Pet
The innate need to procreate is strong in dogs. A female dog in heat can actually be ‘sensed’ by unneutered or intact male dogs from a few blocks. If you’ve got a male hound, there’s a strong chance it will want to get out in search of that female in heat. The same is true with females. They may be driven by the urge to procreate so that they will actively seek out unneutered males in the neighborhood. Spaying your female dog or neutering your male hound should help dissuade it from running away from home, actively seeking a mate.
Invest in a Good Perimeter Fence
If your neighborhood allows the building of a perimeter fence around your property, then by all means build one. This should serve as a physical barrier that will help prevent your dog from ever escaping. If your neighborhood doesn’t allow for physical fences, you may want to invest in an electronic fence. Wires are buried under ground which receives signals from a transmitter on your dog’s collar. If your dog goes near these ‘invisible’ boundaries a corrective action is delivered. It can be a light, sound, vibration, or even static shock. You’d have to train your dog for this. You may also want to secure the doorways in your home. Secondary pet gates should do the trick.
Provide Highly Interactive Exercises
One of the reasons dogs may run away from home is that they are not adequately stimulated, mentally that is. Providing enrichment activities can help cater to your pet’s psychological and cognitive needs. You can build a sandbox especially for your dog to dig in or perhaps place pet-safe toy rabbits or squirrels around the house or in makeshift tunnels for your pet to try and ‘retrieve’. You can also provide toys that are stuffed with its favorite food. It will have to work for it before it can ‘get’ its treat. Playing a game of fetch is usually enough to provide such interaction.
Enlist Professional Help
Some dogs are known for roaming or for their unparalleled sense of independence, although it usually is from case to case basis. There are also dogs that have extreme separation anxiety or other behavioral problems that may make them want to leave home to follow you to your work or wherever your destination may be. If you’re not sure why your pet is frequently bolting out your door, maybe it’s time to have it looked on and thoroughly evaluated by your vet. This way you can be certain of any behavioral problem that is making it want to leave home.
What to Do in Case Your Dog Does Run Away
In the event that your pet dog does run away, here are some things that you can do.
Start Looking The Moment You Notice Your Dog Has Gone Missing
The first 24 hours after your dog has gone missing is very crucial to recovering it. Different dogs will have different levels of stamina. Working dogs can run more than 5 miles before stopping to take a breather. Toy dogs may go a fraction of the distance. That is why it is imperative to start looking for your pet the moment you noticed that it has gone missing. Whatever you do, don’t panic. The moment you start panicking, you will never be able to think clearly of the steps that you need to take to start recovering your pet.
Plan on how you’ll perform a systematic search
While some pet parents will immediately go on a search, a more appropriate action would be to plan your systematic search. Everything depends on the length of time that your pet has been away. If it has been several minutes you can narrow your search to within a few blocks from your place. However, if your pet has gone missing for several hours already, you may have to widen the search. Always go in a grid-like pattern so that every square foot of neighborhood is covered. You may want to enlist the help of your family and friends.
Knock on neighbors’ doors
There is a great chance that one of your neighbors may have seen your pet. The reason for this is that 2 out of 5 households in the US actually have pets in their homes. The remainder of these households will typically have kids who love or want pets. There’s a good chance your pet may have been seen or noticed by these individuals. Now, if you have been very religious in your daily walks with your dog, your neighbors will know that you’re the owner of such a dog. Make sure to check your neighbors and ask if they have seen your pet. It is always wise to bring a picture of your pet so they’ll have an idea.
Call or visit vet clinics, animal shelters, or animal control
Residents often call animal control in the event that they see animals astray. So it would definitely be wise to check your local animal control if any dog has been retrieved by their personnel. And even if they don’t have your dog, it is often best to leave your contact information as well as a picture of your dog so they will know. The same is true with animal shelters and veterinary clinics. Your dog may have gotten into an accident and was brought by a Good Samaritan to the nearest vet clinic. Again, make sure you’ve got all the details of your pet to help facilitate its identification.
Try the dog park or areas where people frequent
Some breeds of dogs are very sociable that they actively seek other people. This is especially true for those that have separation anxiety. For instance, Labrador retrievers, Shih Tzus, and Golden retrievers are known to get lost easily because of their sociable, friendly, and amiable nature. They won’t mind being picked up by a total stranger as long as they can get the kind of social interaction that they are looking for. As such, you may want to try looking in places where people frequent and where your dog has been to in the past. There’s this tendency that your pet might go to that one place where it ‘thinks’ there are people who can interact with it.
If you see your dog running away, call its attention, but don’t run after it
There is this tendency of pet parents to run after their pets when they see them running away. Unfortunately, this will not help since your dog will think that it is a game. What you need to do instead is call its attention and run in the opposite direction. There’s a good chance your dog will be running after you. Sometimes getting low and looking away while calling their name can stop them right on their tracks. You should always remain calm and never raise your voice or even scold them. For your dog you are simply not helping. Also avoid reaching for your pet’s head. This can be quite scary and can very well make your pet run away again.
Never give up
Your pet would not really want you to give up on it. Some dogs are known to travel hundreds of miles just so they can get home. If pets can do such a feat, the least thing you could do is to never give up on them, even if you think you’ve already exhausted everything in trying to locate them. Keep on checking back at the veterinary clinics, animal shelters, and even animal control. Try to utilize the services of reputable canine organizations in helping you locate your dog.
Some Tips to Help You Locate Your Lost Dog
Here are some other helpful tips for locating your dog:
Consider using GPS trackers on their collars
Putting dog GPS trackers on your dog’s collar will not prevent it from running away. However, in the event that it does go away, you’d be instantly notified of its whereabouts. Many dog GPS trackers today come with built-in safe zone settings where you’ll be instantly notified in case your dog moves outside its predetermined ‘safe zone’. Some pet GPS trackers even come with their own online community that help members track missing or lost pets. Not only does it provide real-time whereabouts of your pet, dog GPS trackers also help facilitate the faster and more efficient recovery of your pet. Just pray the GPS transmitter was not removed from your pet’s collar, though.
This article from MyPetNeedsThat.com gives some great options for what product to select: https://www.mypetneedsthat.com/best-gps-tracker-for-dogs/
The internet is an infinite place, yet it is where most pet parents often have luck recovering their lost dog. You can post on an infinite number of online platforms. Some advertising platforms also offer sections where you can put ads regarding lost pets. There are communities in social media networks that help members in any way they possibly can. Utilize the power of the internet to help you locate your dog. Also, don’t underestimate the usefulness of going the traditional method of posting for ‘lost pet’. Some folks are still not connected on the internet or do not have social media accounts. You can still put up ‘lost dog’ posters around your neighborhood or even in your community billboard.
Bring your dog’s favorite doggie treat
If you happen to own a scenthound like a Beagle or a Bloodhound or any dog that has a fantastic sense of smell, you can actually use this trait to ‘lure’ your pet in. These dogs can smell the scent of food from great distances. And they can almost certainly identify if what they smell is actually their favorite scent. In hindsight, it could very well be the reason why they went missing – they smelled something really ‘interesting’ from afar.
There are many reasons why dogs run away from home. But the good news is that you can always prevent this from happening. And if in case your dog does run away, the things we’ve shared with you should help you locate it and bring it back home.
- 6 Crucial Things to Do if Your Dog Runs Away, iHeartDogs
- How to Find Your Lost Dog, PetFinder
- If Your Dog Keeps Running Away, Try These Tips, Petful