Some breeds of dog are little four-legged Houdinis that can disappear in seconds. Others can be like Flash bolting out of your partially opened gate. Nothing can be more alarming for a pet parent than having his or her furry friend go missing. And while only a third of dogs will eventually run away from their human masters at some point in their canine lives, this doesn’t offer much comfort at all. So, what should you do if your hound does run away?
What to Do in Case Your Dog has Run Away
Most pet parents are confident that their hounds will never run away. But given the fact that dogs still have the instincts of their hunter ancestors deeply ingrained in their genes, there is always the risk of having even the most behaved dog go missing. But the question remains, what should you do?
Plan for a More Systematic Search
Most folks will immediately start searching the moment they notice that their Fido is missing. While this may work, a much better approach will be to devise a plan on how you intend to perform the doggie search. If you have a family, you’d want them involved, too. The same is true with your friends. It is often ideal to employ a grid-pattern search.
Try factoring the speed of your dog and the time that has already elapsed since you first noticed it missing. On the average, dogs can reach speeds of about 20 miles per hour, with the Greyhound topping at 45 MPH. This means dogs can go roughly a third of a mile per minute. If you noticed your dog has been missing for about 5 minutes already, that means it is already about 1.5 to 2 miles away from your home. This is if it has been running continuously, of course. This should give you an idea of the scope of your search.
Whatever you do, don’t spend too much time planning. The clock is ticking. The more you spend on planning, the farther your dog is getting. This also means the search area has widened. Having a general plan is better than having none at all.
Start the Search Immediately
As we’ve already mentioned, there are some pet parents who will start the search the moment they notice their pet has gone missing. Unfortunately, the problem with this approach is that you’ll be awash with emotions that you may not be able to think clearly. It is imperative that you remain calm and composed. Sure, you’ll be worried about the safety of your pet. However, if you panic now, then you won’t be able to help your dog return to your home.
The first 24 hours is always critical. However, given that most dogs are faster and have greater endurance than humans, we’d say the first 12 hours are very important. It is critical that the search be initiated within this time frame. The longer you dilly-dally, the greater is the chance of losing your pet forever.
Start with Your Neighbors
If you have been diligent enough in walking your dog every single day, there’s a good chance you neighbors are already familiar with your dog. There’s also a good chance that they may have seen your dog running away from your house and they can give you the general direction where your pet is heading. In case your dog is not known by your neighbors, it is always a good idea to bring a picture of your dog while you go knocking on each of your neighbor’s doors.
You should realize that more than 40 percent of US households have pets. They know how it feels to have a pet go missing so they will be more than willing to help. Other households can also have kids who are pet-lovers themselves. Maybe they saw your dog and they were able to attract it into their home. Who knows? It’s worth the try.
Call Animal Organizations – Clinics, Shelters, and Even Animal Control
The natural reaction of most people who see dogs running in the streets is to call animal control. There are also those who can befriend these dogs and bring them to an animal shelter or perhaps even a veterinary clinic. It is always worth the shot to call or even visit these organizations or offices so you can determine if your dog is there or not.
Even if you don’t see your dog in these establishments, it’s always ideal to leave with them a picture of your dog, any identifying marks that they have, or perhaps even dog ID tags that they wear. Don’t forget to leave your name and contact details just in case they happen to get a hold of your hound. At least, they’ll know who to call.
Look in Areas Where Your Dog Frequents as Well as Public Places
Another area worth looking for your dog is the dog park. This is especially true if you have made it a daily or weekly routine for it. There’s a chance that your dog will be visiting the dog park where it may have made plenty of friends. You may also try the other places that your dog frequently visits every time you take it out for a walk and let it loose from its leash.
Some dogs are naturally more people-friendly than others. Golden Retrievers, Shih Tzus, and even Malteses are known for their sociable nature that they actively look for other people who can shower them with attention. They don’t mind walking up to a stranger to get petted. As such, it is also advisable to look in public places like parks, playgrounds, and even recreational areas as dogs will want to go where there are more people.
Utilize Social Media and Traditional Channels
Don’t forget to utilize social media platforms as well as online lost and found pet services. Make sure to post the latest picture of your pet including descriptions like its color, any identifying mark, or even the name that it responds to. It is also important to leave your contact details so people who may see your dog can also get in touch with you.
While social media platforms have wide reach, don’t underestimate the power of traditional “lost pet” methods such as putting up posters and distributing flyers in your neighborhood. If you have the means, posting it in your local newspaper can also help.
Call Your Dog’s Attention If You Can Still See It Running Away
If you saw your dog darting away from you, call its attention immediately. However, resist the temptation of running after your dog. The natural reaction of pet parents is to run after their dogs. This is counterproductive since the dog will think that you’re playing with it. What you need to do is to run the other way once you have your dog’s attention. The dog’s innate response is to run after you.
Most pet parents have better luck getting down low and then calling out their dog’s name while looking in the opposite direction. Usually, the dog will stop running and will be curious as to who called them. Don’t ever make the mistake of yelling or raising your voice. This will only frighten your dog and may make it run away from you again. Also, refrain from reaching for your dog’s head. It simply is scary for your furry friend.
Bring a Really Delicious Treat
If your dog happens to be a scenthound, you might want to bring a really delicious treat with you, preferably something that has a very powerful aroma that your dog loves. The thing about scenthounds is that they are greatly motivated by the scent of prey. This is what can make them run away in the first place. If you can bring with you their favorite treat, then there’s great likelihood that they’ll pick up this scent and come running back to you. Do take note that this is somewhat limited by the distance between the treat and your dog. If it is already several miles away, then it may not be able to ‘smell’ it anymore. As such, this works best if your dog hasn’t gone away that far yet.
Don’t Give Up
Just because we said that you should start looking for your dog within the first 24 hours after you’ve noticed it missing doesn’t mean you should also limit the timeframe of your search. There are dogs that cross rivers, trek mountains, and pass through dense forests just to get home. The least that you can ever do is to show your resolve. Don’t give up on them. We’ve heard stories of dogs getting reunited with their families after several years of separation.
Preventing Your Canine Friend from Ever Running Away
As we have already mentioned above, some breeds are phenomenal escape artists. As such, if you know that your dog is one of those breeds that are largely considered as Houdinis, then it is a must that you initiate measures that can help prevent your dog from ever running away.
Train Your Dog
Obedience training is a must for all dogs, whether they are working dogs, sporting dogs, companion dogs, or even lap dogs. Training them to follow basic commands is crucial to help prevent them from ever running away. For example, teaching them to respond when called by coming to you immediately is always a great way to help reduce the chances that your dog will be running really far away. It may run, but once you call its attention it should be able to come to you immediately. When training your dog, don’t be harsh to it. Most dogs are sensitive and they don’t like being yelled at or scolded. This can be enough reason for them to run away.
Consider Using Technology on Their Collars
There are now a variety of technologies that can be used on dog collars. These can be attached in combination with dog ID tags. For instance, there are now dog GPS devices that can be easily mounted onto a section of your dog’s collar. This should give you an idea of its whereabouts. There are also dog tracking devices that do not operate on GPS, relying mostly on radiofrequency or even on cellular connectivity. Unfortunately, these may be a bit limited in their coverage.
Build a Fence around Your House
Building a fence around your home is dependent on where you live. Some exclusive communities put restrictions on what can be built. If a physical fence cannot be built because of certain rules, you may want to consider getting an electronic or invisible fence instead. You will have to train your dog, however, so that it will know how to use and respond to the different corrections of an electric fence. If a perimeter fence is allowed in your area, make sure to build something that is high enough that your dog cannot scale or jump over it. Some dogs are really skillful. Also make sure that the fence extends well below the ground as some breeds are known to dig.
Consider Spaying or Neutering Your Dog
It is but natural for dogs to seek out mates in an attempt to procreate. So if you don’t have any plans of breeding dogs, you’ll have less worries of your spayed dog running away from your home.
Engage Your Dog in Exercises and Playtime Activities
One of the potential reasons why dogs will run away from home is that they are really bored. They don’t get the exercise they need or even the playtime they expected from their owners. As such, they will try to go outside the house and search for their own playmates or perhaps another person who can give them the attention that they are looking for. It is for this reason that you should pay attention to your dog’s exercise and socialization needs. It is always best to spend time playing and interacting with it so that it feels that you are really interested in having it in your home.
No pet parent would ever want his or her dog to run away. However, in case you’re put into such a situation you now know what to do next. Hopefully, you’ll also take heed of our advice on how to prevent your dog from ever running away.
- 5 Reasons Why Your Dog Runs Away When You Call – PetMD
- What to Do When Your Dog Runs Away From You– PetMD
- How to Catch a Runaway Dog – wikiHow