Nothing pulls at my heartstrings more than a post from a pet owner begging for help in finding their beloved dog. Every day it seems there are more dogs listed as lost. What causes so many dogs to go missing?Here are some suggestions to prevent this from happening.
Are you a dog owner that feels dogs should not live in the house with you?
Unless you have a very mellow dog, chances are he will eventually determine how to get out of your fenced backyard. Three of the main reasons a dog will seek a way out are boredom, lack of interaction with humans and/or other animals and sex. If your dog is not spayed and comes into ‘season’, she’ll find a way out of the yard as will males that are not neutered.
Did you know that male dogs can mate up to five times/day? That’s a lot of puppies…
A fenced backyard is intended to be used for play purposes. This is an opportunity for you to spend quality time with your dog, for your dog to play with other dogs or with family members. There are many ways to interact with your dog outside, buy or build an inexpensive agility course, hide some treats around the yard for your dog to find, Play Tug-o-war, get a kid’s pool for your dog to splash around in, throw the ball or his favorite toy. Go beyond the yard and talk a nice walk!
Does your dog bolt every time the door is open a crack?
This is SO easy to fix. In my training workshops, I instruct clients to be prepared and not take chances. Someone’s at the door… it does not matter whether it is a friend, family member or delivery service person knocking when it comes to the safety of your dog. What does matter is that you get your pup leashed! Acknowledge the person on the other side of the door, get your dog leashed and with a firm grip on the leash open the door. Not only will this prevent your dog from bolting, it will help you keep him under control if he is easily excitable. If company or delivery people are the only ones that come to the front door, and you and your family enter and exit through the back door, keep a leash and harness (or collar) available at both doors. Take those extra few minutes to leash your dog. This is an easy fix.
Train your dog.
Spend the money and put the time and effort into obedience training. There are many different trainers and techniques available at a wide range of costs. If your schedule (or budget) is not conducive to weekly training sessions, you can also train your dog on your own. For the computer savvy, there are some phenomenal videos available to guide you through the training process. Two positive trainers that have influenced me are Victoria Stilwell and Zak George. Set aside a few minutes on a regular basis for quality one-on-one training time to tech Come, Stay and Wait. These commands can literally be lifesavers! You don’t have to, and actually shouldn’t, spend hours every day working your dog. Short training sessions are much more effective.
Post a sign at your door(s) to make people aware that you have a dog that bolts when given the opportunity.
This will inform everyone to be extra alert and careful when opening the door.
Hosting a party?
Be sure your dog is either secure in his crate or tethered to you. You might not always be present when the door opens.
Some tips to help if your dog goes missing:
- Make certain your dog’s microchip and tag information are always current.
- Notify the microchip company to list your dog as missing
- What if he gets out? Its human nature to run after him but your dog will see this as a game. Call for him in as calm a tone as you can manage with some off the rails. In the past, I have used hotdogs, bacon, lunchmeat and Canadian bacon as lures. The nose knows!
- Social Media: spread the word! FB/Twitter/Instagram/PetFinder/Pawboost
- If you live in a subdivision ask to post on the HOA website
- Talk to neighbors and friends
- Contact local Animal Controls, Humane Societies & Rescues
- Leave something with your scent near where your dog went missing
- Post flyers
- Try to remain calm and hopeful
A friend lost her dog in the North Georgia Mountains a couple of years ago. For over two weeks, she searched, posted flyers and kept revisiting the area where she last saw him. When she felt sure all was lost, he was cited and that led to his capture and safe return.
Remember, miracles can and do happen.
A native of Massachusetts and a resident of Georgia where I have lived since 2008 with six rescue dogs, commonly referred to as my merry band of misfits, and one husband. I am proud owner of Best Buddies Dog Training in Hoschton, GA. When not in the training studio, you'll find me in a nursing home, hospital or special needs class with my certified pet therapy dog or recruiting for my pet therapy organization, Happy Tails. I also spend a great deal of time researching the latest information on dog food, health and training techniques and volunteering with local rescues. I have written stories to contribute to Titan's Tales and Other Dog Adoption Love Stories and In Dogs We Trust.