If your dog runs away, often the first instinct is to panic. Why would your dog leave you? However, in situations like these, knowing what to do when your dog runs away is imperative to getting him home quickly and safely.
When 24 hours goes by and you haven’t found him or he hasn’t returned home, it’s time to take some more action. Dogs run away for a number of reasons. If your dog was significantly frightened when he disappeared, he could have left in order to flee what he felt was some sort of danger.
Male dogs who are not neutered will also leave their homes if they catch a scent of estrogen on the wind. Your dog might also run away due to strong feelings of boredom or loneliness.
The best thing you can do when you’re figuring out what to do when your dog runs away is to first think about your dog’s personality and all the reasons he could have to want to run away. The size of your dog will help you determine your search range, because larger dogs can travel much further. A big dog can go up to five miles in a day, whereas smaller dogs might only make it up to a half mile. This is important to note because you don’t want to be searching three miles out when your dog could be further or closer than you expected.
Knowing how your dog acts around others is another key way to know what to do when your dog runs away. If your dog has a friendly personality and loves people, there’s a chance that someone could have taken him in. He would be attracted to new people who are out and about or in their yards, so the chances that someone would have seen him will increase.
Big open spaces like public parks are also a good place to look for an outgoing, friendly dog. He’ll be looking for someone to take care of him and give him food, and he also might be inclined to go up to other dogs. When you’re searching, check areas like these first to see if you can find him.
Older dogs or dogs with shy personalities aren’t going to be looking for people, they’re going to hide. Check bushes, dense shrubbery, or under cars to see if your dog has found a place to hide out.
Knowing What to Do When Your Dog Runs Away
Once you’ve figured out your search parameters, start looking. If your dog has a collar with an identification tag or a microchip, it will be easier to find where your dog has gone. Make sure you check the pound or the local shelter to see if anyone has dropped off your dog, or to notify the staff so they know what kind of dog to watch for. People will also take found dogs to other places like kennels, veterinarians, and even pet stores. If you’re not able to find your dog outside, don’t forget to check places like these to see if your dog has been located.
Think about what’s around you, and check areas that your pet might be drawn to. You can also use social media to get the word out so people can be aware that your dog is missing. Social media is a great way to get a giant search party together without really organizing anything. The people who share your message are spreading the news that your dog is missing further and further, so the chances that someone sees and recognizes your dog can only increase.
Putting signs up is the classic way of spreading the word, but don’t use signs that people aren’t going to be able to see. Make your signs bright and colorful, include a recent picture of your dog, and add the word “reward” in large, attention-grabbing letters so people understand that there is an incentive as well as how important your dog is to you. Post the signs in busy areas where more people will see them, and make sure to include a good phone number that’s visible for people to call.
You can also make versions of the sign to give to shelters, rescue organizations, pet stores, and anywhere else that is involved with dogs or has people who are willing to help.
Keep looking, and don’t give up hope. The more you do to spread the word, the higher your chances become that your dog will come home.
Once your dog is returned to you, take some extra steps to make sure this doesn’t happen again. If your dog doesn’t have a collar with an identification tag or a microchip, consider getting one to make finding him easier. You might also look at installing a fence, or even only taking your dog outside on a leash.
Most of all, just be thankful that your dog is home safe and sound!