What to do if you lose a dog.


No matter how careful you are, even the most obedient dog can occasionally disappear. Take immediate action to ensure you find him.


By law your dog must wear an identification tag - while it may seem correct to include your dog’s name on the tag it is not advisable. Having your dog’s name on the tag may make it easier for thieves to coax your dog away. Include your name on the tag along with your address and phone numbers (contactable 24 hours a day). This will ensure your dog is returned to you quickly if he/she goes astray.

If you are traveling with your dog, buy temporary tags and list any temporary addresses and phone numbers. Likewise if your dog is staying elsewhere ensure he/she has a tag with the temporary address and phone numbers.

Make sure the contact info attached to the microchip database and to the tag is up to date at all times. Don’t forget to update it if you move.

If your dog’s ID tag or the contact info you supplied to the microchip database is out of date and you lose your dog, contact the people at your old address and alert them.

For additional peace of mind, you can consider GPS tracking and / or an ear tattoo. A GPS tracking devise will show you exactly via Google maps where your dog is. There are a number of companies who offer this service.


Your Local Authority Dog Warden;

Lost dogs will usually be picked up or passed on to a local Dog Warden and taken to a Local Authority kennel. Dog Wardens are legally responsible for stray dogs so this should be one of your first ports of call.

The Dog Warden must legally hold onto a stray dog for 7 days. After 7 days they can rehome him, pass him on to a rehoming organisation or even have him humanely put to sleep.

You will be able to contact your local Dog Warden through the Environmental Health Department of your local authority. There should be a message telling you who to contact out of hours.

There may be a fee attached to retrieve your dog.

Bear in mind that your dog could turn up or be taken to council kennels outside of the area they live in. You should check all councils within at least a fifty mile radius. When dogs are lost or scared they can travel a long way or they may be taken elsewhere by someone who finds them.

Kennels and Rehoming Centres;

If Police or the Dog Warden has no record of your pet being handed in, ask them for the details of their holding kennels and call to double check. Someone could have taken your dog directly there.

Contact other kennels and rehoming centres in the area, including boarding kennels and small local sanctuaries. If your dog is a pedigree, try local breeders too. The Kennel Club will be able to give you details of your local breed rescue group.

Don’t simply rely on what they tell you. Try to visit and check daily - divide and conquer. Ask friends and family to help visit and check too. Don’t forget to leave your information, a picture and / or poster.

Your local police station;

Contact the police if you think your dog has been stolen. Police may pick up stray dogs if they are found bothering livestock, but otherwise stray dogs are the legal responsibility of the local authority.


Petlog manage the national database for microchips. If you are a member of Petlog Premium you can mark your dog missing via an SMS text or on the website. Petlog can send a Lost Pet Alert to authorised agents in a 30 mile radius of the last sighting of your lost dog and you can download a Lost Pet Poster from the website for distribution in the area. You will also be added to the lost pet page.

Veterinary surgeries;

Phone around veterinary surgeries, including emergency veterinary hospitals. Check surgeries and hospitals outside your area. People could have found your dog and driven it to a vet further away. If your dog has been stray he/she may have been injured, road traffic is a particular danger for dogs. Injured and frightened dogs have been known to travel long distances. Don’t forget to leave your contact details, a picture and / or poster with everyone you contact, so they can contact you should your dog turn up.


Check vet surgery and supermarket noticeboards, shops, libraries, local newspapers and other public noticeboards to see if anyone has found your dog and is searching for the owner. Not everyone will necessarily hand a dog in to a Warden.


Try to determine the reason your dog disappeared. Dogs that have run away because they are afraid likely to be hiding. Dogs that have been chasing something, such as a cat or squirrel, may have lost their way and travelled some distance.

If your dog has wandered off while on a walk, stay in one spot so he/she can find his way back to you. If you have someone with you, have one person stay in one spot while the other searches the area.

If your dog has gone missing while at your property, search the property thoroughly. Search basements, garages, sheds, vents and pipes where a dog may be stuck. When frightened or hurt a dog may hide even when they hear you calling. Use a torch. Call your dog in an upbeat positive tone so as not to scare him or make him think you might be angry. Use anything which might get his attention search as a box of treats or squeaky toy.

Your dog may have decided to take himself for a walk. Search your local area. If you have moved house check your last address. Check any building sites in the area in case your dog has got trapped. Enlist help.

Speak to your neighbors and ask to search their properties too. Take a photo of your dog. Talk to as many people as you can.

Get out and call your pet’s name. Enlist family and friends to help. One of the best times to call your pet is at night and at dawn. If it is safe to do so, drive slowly in your car with the windows down calling your dog’s name.


Get the word out as soon as possible! Getting the word out as soon as possible is key to getting your dog back. Do not wait around to see if he/she will turn up. Have good, clear, up to date colour photographs to hand.

Get posters of your missing dog up as soon as you can. Include a description and his name. Offer a reward. Include your phone number. Distribute posters on bus stops, lampposts, vet surgeries, supermarket noticeboards, park noticeboards, shops, libraries, local newspapers, public noticeboards, shelters and kennels.

Place a Lost ad in your local newspaper and check lost pet ads in the classifieds. Incidentally some pet insurance policies may cover you for the cost of advertising.

Make mini versions of the poster as above, and post to houses and on car windshields. Again speak to as many people as you can and give them the flyers. Ask them to check their properties.

Put a poster in the back of your car and ask friends and family to do the same.

Register your dog with a national lost dog database, such as DogLost (0844 800 3220) www.doglost.co.uk

Call your local radio station and ask them to put a message out.

Utilize Social Media like Facebook and Twitter. Ask your contacts to spread the word and re-post. This can create a great deal of exposure and people can comment or post updates if they have any leads or ideas.

Seek specialized pet recovery groups in your area. A pet recovery service can give you tips based on their expert knowledge of animal behavior.


Don’t lose hope. Dogs can be found months and even years after going missing.

Dogs can pick up a scent from a long way. Place scent markers around your property, such as items of unwashed clothes or your dog’s bedding. Leave food and water outside along with his bed, in shelter if possible.

Be wary of scammers and con artists. Keep one identifying detail to yourself and if someone contacts you saying they have your dog, ask them for that information. Try to meet in a public place and bring a friend or family member with you.


See ‘microchip and tag your dog’

Make sure your dog has frequent company of other dogs, access to food and is not bored- this is often a reason why dogs will run off. Make sure he/she gets plenty of exercise and stimulation so he/she doesn’t go off seeking an adventure.

If your dog is un-neutered then he/she or she may be trying find a mate. A neutered dog will be happier to stay at home and will not have the urge to escape looking for a mate.

Make sure there are no gaps in your fencing (you would be amazed at what some dogs can squeeze through) and that they are high enough - so that your dog cannot escape.

If your dog is prone to bolting for the front door, make sure he/she is shut in another room before you open it.

Train your dog well, particularly on recall, if he/she is prone to running off. Keep him on an extendable lead until he/she returns on command.

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