When a companion animal is somehow separated from his family, any responsible caregiver worries about every possible disaster that could happen to his missing dog. When a pet runs away, it almost always catches his human off guard. It is hard to admit that your beloved pet could possibly bolt out the door and not respond to your call to come back. Or he slips through the gate that has not been completely latched.

No matter how good a caregiver you are, there are situations in which your furbaby may go missing. One of the best ways to keep your pet on your property is by installing a sturdy fence, and keeping it in good repair. It should be tall enough so that your dog can’t jump over it, and placed deep enough into the ground so that your dog can’t dig under it.

ID tags are important safety measures for ALL dogs. Even if your dog seldom goes outside without you, he should still have identification, for that one time that he sneaks out a door that is left open. Because dogs can lose their collars, it is equally important to have pets permanently identified with either a tattoo or a microchip.

Keep good records and photographs of your pets. In the event that your dog gets lost, time is the most critical factor.

Here are tips to make the search for a lost dog more effective:

  • Try to remain calm, and implement an organized plan as quickly as possible. Most recovered pets are those that have been actively searched for in the first 12 hours.
  • Thoroughly search your own home, property and neighborhood. Sometimes a “lost” puppy is asleep under the bed or in a closet. Walk around your neighborhood, talk to everyone you see, showing them photos of the missing dog, posting signs with details about your pet.
  • Widen your search range. Frightened dogs can just take off and run until they are totally exhausted. They can cover more distance than usually imagined, or sometimes Good Samaritans may pick up a lost dog and transport it to a shelter or clinic quite a distance away.
  • File a lost pet report with the local police. Even if they don’t help you look for the pet, a report establishes a record your dog was lost, and if someone finds him, they may contact the police or animal control. This way his caregiver can be identified.
  • Post many large, visible signs. A good “Lost Dog” poster is often the key to recovering a missing pet. Effective posters are large with a color picture of the animal , a description of the dog, listing any distinguishing marks. Include your name and phone number. Hang them in grocery stores, pet stores, vet clinics, convenience stores, any place that allows it. In some areas, the authorities may not allow posting on light poles or stop signs, but the more posters the better!
  • Contact animal shelters, humane societies, and all places where an animal might be turned in. Check with them every day, because it is tough for a busy place to monitor all the incoming dogs.
  • Call the radio stations and ask them to list the missing dog with details. Post a “lost dog” ad in newspapers with information about where the dog was lost and his description. Be sure to give a phone number where you can be reached.

Don’t give up. The sooner you start searching the better your chances are, but people have been reunited with their pets months after they’ve gone missing, and if you are fortunate enough to find a lost pet, don’t punish him. Be thankful to have him back. Doing what you can to prevent pet loss, and having an efficient recovery plan offers the best opportunity to reunite family and furbaby.