Have You Ever Lost Your Dog?

Share Button

LOST DOG. Don’t you hate to see those signs and the sinking feeling it gives you? I thank God we’ve never lost any of our dogs for longer than 15-20 minutes. The longest situation was Tino, of course, but HE knew exactly where he was and exactly where I was, so technically I’m not sure he was lost.
I lost Sally twice. The first time was in Griffith Park where she took off like a bullet up a side trail (yes, she was off leash). It wasn’t really a trail just a wooded area into a crevice. She took that detour numerous times, but usually only got about 10 feet in before I found her, but this time, she bolted and I lost sight of her. I eventually found her about 5 minutes later, a good 100 yards up the crevice happily munching away on a dead animal.
The second time I lost her, we accidentally left the front gate open and Sally just wandered out and away. Luckily, I noticed she was missing after about 10 minutes, but she was no where to be found. We live on the edge of an open area so if she wanders too far, she wanders into coyote land. After 10 anxious minutes of running around the neighborhood calling for her, I found her in my neighbors back yard…munching on avocados that had fallen from his tree.
lost dog

So what’s the point of this post? It’s not to scare you, well, maybe a little. We don’t talk about lost dogs often, so I thought a few tips and reminders about what to do if (god forbid) you lose your dog, or they wander off or climb the fence or whatever.

  • Comb the neighborhood. If your dog just wandered away, they probably didn’t wander too far. Where is their favorite pee or sniffing spots nearby – check them first. Or as in my case – any neighbors with fruit trees?
  • Enlist your neighbors and friends – the more people aware that he is missing and the more eyes out there looking for your pet, the more likely you will be to find him.
  • Contact your local animal control so they will be on the lookout for your pet. Follow up with them.
  • Make posters and put them everywhere. Make sure you have a picture of your dog and the specifics about how to contact you. You can also make up flyers or index cards to pass out to all the local merchants, school kids you see walking to school, bus drivers, mailmen…folks who are in you neighborhood that may spot your dog.
  • Utilize social media – Facebook, Twitter, etc. have become a huge resources for getting the word out and tracking a dog that might be on the loose. Create a page for your dog and use it to help find him.
  • Visit your local vets and of course the local shelters. Leave behind your flyers and follow-up with them. Don’t expect them to proactively call you if they find your pet. Be persistent and diligent in contacting them.
  • Be aware that if lost, your dog is likely frightened and may hide and/or run from you. Be sure you carry plenty of their favorite treats, a leash and lots of patience.
  • If you suspect your dog has been kidnapped, call the local police and provide whatever information you can about your suspicions.
  • Don’t give up. We’ve all ready wonderful heart-warming stories about dogs being located after weeks, months, even years. Keep looking, be persistent and never give up. A reward is a possibility and certainly an incentive, but beware of scammers.


I hope none of you ever needs to use this list, but you should all make use of the following – some tips on PREVENTING a lost or runaway pet:

  • Microchip – of course this is an easy preventative tool, but a little cumbersome as the dog would have to be taken to a vet or shelter in order for the chip to be read. Don’t rely solely on the microchip to ensure your dog’s safe return.
  • Tags – not just with your dog’s name, but with their phone number. Even better than tags is a collar with their name & phone # embroidered into the webbing.
  • How did your dog get free? Did they wiggle through a loose board in the fence? Slip their collar and take off? Be sure and address the potential weak points in securing your pet safely.
  • Never leave your dog alone in a vehicle, outside a coffee shop or anyplace where they could be stolen.
  • Be aware of life events that contribute to missing pets: vacations, moving to a new home or noise events like July 4th. Each of these events can contribute to a dog wandering away, becoming disoriented and lost. Keep them close.

If you have additional tips or insights to share, please do so in the comments.
Additional Resources:

What to Do if You Lose Your Pet
Lost Pet: Action Plan
What to Do If You Lose Your Pet
What to Do if Your Dog Goes Missing


We are joining the Thursday Barks and Bytes Blog Hop Co-hosted by our friends at 2Brown Dogs and Heart Like a Dog. Grab the badge and join the fun!



Share Button


  1. The only time we ever came close was when hubby was out grouse hunting with Thunder this Fall. Normally he has the dogs on ecollar when he hunts. That is because if they flush a bird and it flies away they can get so caught up that they tune out all else. (Hey you can’t buck DNA.) Anyway, he forgot the ecollar but hubby didn’t come back for it because Thunder is 8 years old and normally very good with recall. He did have a collar with tags on it, but no ecollar. Thunder flushed a bird, but there was no safe shot so it flew away. Thunder took off after it totally ignoring hubby. Now ecollar would have allowed hubby to stop him, but that was at home. I think hubby said he spent about 10 minutes in the forest calling him and he finally came back. It was a nervous time. No more hunting without ecollar. 🙂

    Thanks so much for joining the hop with these great tips!
    2 Brown Dawgs recently posted…Thursday Barks And Bytes–Odds And Ends From VacationMy Profile

    • Yep, that’s the same as what happened with Tino – sometimes instinct just kicks in…even with a well-behaved senior.
      mkob recently posted…Have You Ever Lost Your Dog?My Profile

  2. A Tagg GPS tracker helps a lot, especially if you have a dog notorious for escaping or an extremely skittish dog!

  3. UGH! There have been SO many people I have helped find their dogs. When I hear someone walking around the neighborhood yelling their dogs names, I just feel obligated to go out and help. It is a scary situation. I have never lost my dogs. They have got off the leash once or twice, but they didn’t go far thank dog! My cat got out once and I had to spend hours finding him. Luckily it all worked out.
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!
    Jenna,Mark “HuskyCrazed” Drady recently posted…A huskies letter to Santa Paws – Day #4 sale at Pawz N Clawz!My Profile

    • I’m the same, and if I see a dog on the street without a person around, I stop and try to get them.
      mkob recently posted…Have You Ever Lost Your Dog?My Profile

  4. Losing my dog is a fear of mine. Especially my wee dog. He’s quick and slippery. Thank you.
    Flea recently posted…Is It December Already?!?My Profile

  5. I hope it will never happen, that’s a nightmare…. Our grand aunt lost her poodle Justus once ( brainless kids threw firecrackers at him and he ran away). We informed our local radio station and they were so nice to broadcast our announcement. My grampy waited 2 nights in the car on the place they saw him the last time. And fortunately the miracle happened and Justus came back. It was the worst for our grand aunt, she is 83 and Justus is all what she has since her husband died.
    easy rider recently posted…easyblog MISCHIEF MOANDAYMy Profile

  6. This hit too close to home. You won’t be reading about it on the blog, but our foster pup recent got spooked by a skateboard on a walk. After my husband dropped her leash, she took off running like a streak.

    Everyone tells you not to chase a frightened dog. But no one tells you how else you’ll keep track of the dog if you don’t run after her.

    One stranger tried to catch her. And another stranger saw what was happening and stopped to pick my husband up in his car and drive him until he caught up with the pup as she ran up onto a porch. She got 5 blocks away before he caught her.

    We were both terrified. But relieved that despite running into the street a couple times, she didn’t get hit. And also relieved that even in a real emergency, neither of us panicked and we just did what we had to to get her back.

    Thanks for some good tips–especially the ones about sharing information. Because my experience shows that there are lots of strangers out there willing to help out.
    Pamela recently posted…10 Mad Skills You’ll Need To Raise A PuppyMy Profile

    • Wow – what a scary experience. Puppies are so unpredictable too. So glad you got her and no harm came to her. Enlisting folks is so important – so many people can relate to the lost dog syndrome.
      mkob recently posted…Have You Ever Lost Your Dog?My Profile

  7. That is a scary experience and thankfully I have never been lost. Mom has been helping a friend of hers try and find her cat. The cat snuck out of the house on the evening of Oct 9 when a family crisis was happening and in the confusion, he got out the door. They have make posters, went door to door, and have used social media and so far no luck. We hope someone has taken him as it is now so very cold up here. Great article.
    Buddy recently posted…At Least It Is a Dry ColdMy Profile

  8. Always smart to prepare for the worst because if you’re sure it won’t happen to you, I’m sure it will. I’ve had that feeling of momentarily losing a pup (who was happily hidden under an outdoor staircase chomping on a branch) and it’s important to get past that initial feeling of helplessness in order to take action.

  9. I love that you found Sally munching on a dead animal and avocados. She is obviously trying to tell you she needs more exotic variety in her diet. 🙂
    jan recently posted…From puppy to lovely Rhodesian Ridgeback in 23 secondsMy Profile

  10. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve lost Delilah. But she’s just like a bad penny, she keeps turning back up. 🙂 Seriously I lose my mind when she takes off, but I’ve learned she will come back, still I keep calling her.

    Lost Sampson once, he ran ahead in the field and when we got there he wasn’t there. He must have looped around to the place where he left us, but we didn’t know. I definitely panicked and Hubby and I both called and called, then Hubby went one way and I went the other and there he was.

    Thank you for joining the blog hop!! Great tips here, as you know my sister’s dog was lost for 12 days in October. It is a difficult time.
    Jodi recently posted…The Dreaded Christmas Card – Barks and BytesMy Profile

    • I’d go nuts if one of mine was gone that long…
      mkob recently posted…Have You Ever Lost Your Dog?My Profile

      • I would too. I don’t think I’d be able to eat or sleep. There are two dogs that are lost in my area. I think I should post about them again. They were either lost or stolen after a burglary and have been missing for about 10 months now. Their owner will not give up and keeps looking. It breaks my heart every time I hear there are no leads. 🙁
        Jodi recently posted…The Dreaded Christmas Card – Barks and BytesMy Profile

  11. Excellent post Slim. Had that horrific experience once when Harley was a pup. Gate was open and I didn’t know it. I jumped in the car, Doodle husband took off on foot to have our daughter call a few minutes later to tell us she saw him walking to the front door coming from the other side of the house. Yes – we felt relieved, yes – we felt ridiculous! But we were new pet parents! LOL
    Groovy Goldendoodles recently posted…MOVIE REMAKES | WWMy Profile

  12. I’ve had Blueberry slip her harness a couple of times – but she was never officially lost.

    The time I lost both of my dogs (well, at least one of them) years ago – it was when I was at work and someone broke into my home. They cut the power and left the front door wide open. I came home to a deathly silent house. I went inside and called out but didn’t get a response from either dog so I headed back out the door to my neighbor’s house and that is when my dog, Shadow, came running out of the house towards me. I was never so relieved as to realize she had been in the back yard the entire time (doggy door). I had a kiddie pool back there and that was how she survived the heat of the summer day. I later learned from my neighbor that they had noticed both dogs running loose around 10 am that morning (I didn’t get home to 5:30pm). At any rate, I still had a lost dog, Copper. I did the only thing I could think of, I logged onto my computer and located a lost dogs in Arizona website and there was a dog listed there, found that day that sort of matched Copper’s description. I called the number and after a few questions back and forth, realized they had indeed found Copper – and he was only about a mile away from the house. The people told me they had seen him and another dog with him (probably my Shadow) and called to both of them, but only he came running (friendly like nobody’s business which was a benefit to him in this case). Both dogs were chipped, but not wearing their collars at the time.

    I would have to say I am thankful that Shadow and I had walked that neighborhood since she was a puppy and taken all sorts of routes, so I believe that is how she ended up finding her way back to the house and stayed there til I came home. As for Copper, I was able to get him back as well so in the end it all worked out and I just thanked God that they were both safe and didn’t end up suffering any ill effects. I think I was less concerned with him being lost because I knew how friendly he was; one time I dropped his leash and he took off to the nearest house with a person outside because he just loves people – so I knew someone would have to find him. I’m just glad they didn’t decide to keep him and instead posted him on that website! You think it’ll never happen to you…until it does.
    Blueberry’s human recently posted…Will There Be Mischief?My Profile

    • Wow, a breakin and an escape. What a great website too, so lucky to have that resource. Glad everyone made it home safe and sound.
      mkob recently posted…Have You Ever Lost Your Dog?My Profile

  13. Great post!!

    I might have told you this story before about when my dogs flushed a deer and were gone? Anyways, if I haven’t, we were walking in the woods with the girls off leash. One of our dogs was with us and the other one was in the brush. The dog that was in the brush flushed the deer and our other dog took off in her direction up this big hill and then they were both gone. Silent forest, no dog noises, no deer noises. No crashing through the forest. Nothing. They were wearing hunting bells at the time, as well and those bells are loud.

    I nearly had a panic attack. We could not go after them as the hill they scaled was too steep and the brush was too thick.. I ran up one half of the trail calling them and blasting my whistle (their emergency recall) and my husband ran down the other part of the trail calling them. It was the longest 5 minutes of my life but it was literally 5 minutes. 5 minutes later, both dogs come down happily through the forest, they both looked exhausted but happy. We rewarded them heavily for coming back and ended our hike. They were not off leash together at the same time again for over a year.
    Lauren Miller recently posted…Mini Rant. Blogger Ate My Post.My Profile

    • So similar to my experience with Tino…he was so proud of himself when he made it back…and he found me, not the other way around.
      mkob recently posted…Have You Ever Lost Your Dog?My Profile

  14. I’ve never lost a dog for more than five minutes, but those five minutes were awful. One of my childhood dogs would bolt out the door. We were good about preventing this, but I remember her bolting at least twice. I don’t think she actually wanted to run away, just thought it was fun to have us chase her on an adventure. She was always in site, just staying out of reach.

    My foster dog Morgan somehow twisted out of his Gentle Leader one time while trying to chase a loose dog. His Gentle Leader came unhooked and he ran after the other dog. In the chaos, Ace got away from me too which had never happened before and hasn’t happened since. Both dogs darted after this other loose dog and they were all out of my site for about two minutes. It was terrifying, because they ran in front of a car, but the driver stopped in plenty of time and actually got out and helped me catch my two. We never did catch the third dog.

    Dogs can get away from anyone 🙁
    Lindsay recently posted…Should I correct my dog for growling?My Profile

  15. We have never lost Riley – knock on wood! – and the few times he has slipped out of his collar/out of our hands, he has just stuck close by. I don’t think he would ever go too far, plus he is an older guy so he’s not all that quick 🙂 But I can’t even imagine losing my dog and having no idea where to look. It breaks my heart to see “Missing” posters, particularly when the dog is older or has health issues. 🙁

    Have you been following the Marley & Forest story? A New York family lost their two dogs two years ago, received a phone call recently, and it turns out that Marley & Forest were picked up in Georgia! So crazy that they were still together after all this time…amazing things do happen!
    Chelsea Price recently posted…A Riley By Any Other Name…My Profile

  16. We never let Bentley loose except in the fenced backyard. He has a QR tag and we are getting him microchipped this weekend at TSC.
    M. K. Clinton recently posted…Bentley’s Bayou Birthday BashMy Profile

  17. Thanks so much for this article. Being lost would be the worst thing ever!
    Gilligan recently posted…Barks and Books – Weens Blasts OffMy Profile

  18. Thankfully, not really. Yes, Katie used to take off, but Mom could always see her romping around in the distance so she wasn’t really lost. I took off once but Mom and her friend managed to capture me. Hopefully we will never be lost.
    Emma recently posted…Caution! Elves At Work!My Profile

  19. Amazingly, considering Cookie’s adventurous heart, no. Well, not for longer that a couple of hours at the most. She has a very good sense of where she is, where we are and where home is. Every night we celebrate still having two dogs. Hopefully it’ll stay that way. *knock on wood
    Jana Rade recently posted…The Pet PT Pit Stop: “Where’s The Evidence?”My Profile

  20. Since I had a really scary experience when I was teenager losing my dog Carter at the time I really appreciate this post. Not only for the great tips but just being able to admit it happens. There’s a lot of negative talk towards people who lose their pets on some FB lost and founds groups I’m in. It’s always so disheartening to see these people (mostly) desperately asking for help in finding their dogs and being told “how did that young of a dog get away” blah blah blah. Ok well that’s besides the point.

    We lost Carter while playing in the backyard. We were playing frisbee and the transformer in our lot blew up; he took and just kept on running. Dogs are fast, I tried my best to catch up to him but he wouldn’t stop. That evening and everyday afterwards I was out walking or on my bike – searching and calling for him (this was before the internet was so popular). Luckily a few weeks later a great guy was able to catch him and give us a call; I’ve never been so relieved to see a dirty, filthy dog as I was that day.

    Ever since then I find myself trying to help neighbors & friends try to locate lost pets. It’s such a terrible feeling not knowing.
    Jen Gabbard recently posted…You Can Help Save A Great Dogs LifeMy Profile

    • No one intentionally loses their dog! It’s always an accident. FB people can be a little cruel sometimes. Glad Cooper was found.
      mkob recently posted…Have You Ever Lost Your Dog?My Profile

  21. Last weekend the back gate swung open in the wind whilst I was gardening and Killa got out. I realised after a few minutes and kept calling her… My heart was sinking and I had a lump in my throat but I kept calling her name as nicely as I could. I think when calling a lost dog you have to pretend that your almost shouting out that it’s their dinner time.

    My dogs know that they’re not allowed out in the street unleashed so if I sound aggressive it makes them want to hide from me. I read through everyone’s stories in the comments above and the majority are close calls, which is good. I hate seeing posters of lost dogs but I always make sure to stop and have a look and any time I see a lone dog I will try to help. There are too many people that would just take a dog (to keep or sell) and never try to find the owner. 🙁

    Thanks for the preventative tips and then what to do if it ever happens!
    Amy recently posted…10 Dog Christmas Ornaments for Your Pooch Themed Tree!My Profile

  22. Great post! you all know I almost lost nellie a couple weeks ago, it isn’t a fun feeling.
    Sand Spring Chesapeakes recently posted…FitDog Friday~Birthday Jolly BallMy Profile

  23. There are very few things that scare me as much as the thought of losing my dog. I’ve “lost” my dogs on numerous occasions, but I discovered that they were within 20 yards of me each time, munching on deer or elk parts (sound familiar?). Their bells now help me to figure out where they are when they pull this trick. But, I have thought about getting a GPS unit that will track our dogs, just in case. The thought of truly losing them is a nightmare for me. Indeed, I know someone whose dog was stolen out of his yard, and he still hasn’t stopped looking, 6 months later.

    • We used to use bells and lights on Sally & Tino when we ran the trails. I keep Jack and Maggie on leash now – I guess I don’t trust them enough. I don’t think I would ever stop looking.
      mkob recently posted…Possession is Nine-tenths of the LawMy Profile

Comments are now closed on this post.