How to Find Your Lost Dog

Many people who see a loose dog will take him to a shelter if he has no identification.
dog image by jeancliclac from

A companion dog enriches your life with a strong emotional bond and unconditional loyalty. When your dog gets lost, your feelings may include desperation, grief and dread. You wonder if your dog is safe; your mind summons up its worst fears, knowing the dangers of traffic, injury and dog theft. Quick implementation of a search plan offers the best chance of finding your lost dog, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association in 2007.

Step 1

Telephone all animal control agencies and veterinarians in your area and surrounding towns, including shelters, pet adoption agencies and humane societies. Explain that your dog is lost, and ask them to contact you if he's brought in. Fax a photograph of your dog to the animal agencies and veterinarian offices. A freely wandering dog is an unusual sight in many places since the implementation of leash laws. Often, someone who notices a dog loose without his owner will take the dog to a shelter or veterinarian. About 71 percent of lost dogs included in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association study were recovered by their owners within two days, primarily through a call or visit to an animal agency, the study reported.

Step 2

Drive around your neighborhood and nearby streets. Take a picture of your dog with you, and ask the people you encounter if they have seen him. Check the yards of houses you pass, and listen for barking dogs. An unfamiliar dog in a neighborhood can set off a clamor.

Step 3

Use your computer and printer to make up fliers you can hand to people you encounter. Post fliers on telephone poles, on supermarket bulletin boards, at pet food stores, in veterinary clinics and at animal agencies. Include your dog’s photograph, name and description, your phone numbers and email address. If you do not have a printer, go to a local print shop and have them make the fliers for you.

Step 4

Post word on Twitter and Facebook that your dog is lost. Your local friends and acquaintances can join in the search or at least keep an eye out for your dog. Get the word out as soon as possible. You can also place an ad in your local newspaper if you do not find your dog within a few days. Check Craigslist's lost and found section, and post your lost dog on the site.


  • Keep your dog inside the house when you are away, rather than leaving him in a fenced area or tied in the backyard. If your dog is outside alone and you are not at home, the risk of theft or some other misadventure is high. The chance of recovering a stolen dog is low.


  • Microchip your dog, and never let him be without a collar that carries his tags and identifying information such as your name, address and phone number. The collar is the quickest way of getting your dog home, but if it is missing for some reason, the microchip is always there. Animal agencies and veterinarians routinely scan lost dogs brought to their offices to see if they are microchipped. Some dog owners and trainers also have microchip scanners. Your dog's registered microchip number can lead them to your personal contact information. Tags, microchips, local dog licenses and rabies tags are all important tools for quickly returning a lost dog to his owner.

Items You Will Need

  • Telephone
  • Dog photograph
  • Vehicle
  • Computer
  • Printer
  • Signs


About the Author

Karen Curley has more than 18 years experience in health and nutrition, specializing in healthy food choices for families. She received USDA certification in food components, nutrient sources, food groups and infant/child nutrition, and holds a B.A. in English from the University of Massachusetts. Curley is also an avid gardener, home renovator, Collie breeder, dog groomer and dog trainer.

Photo Credits