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What to Do If You Find a Lost Dog – 4 Actionable Tips

Every dog parent dreads the idea that their canine best friend could go missing one day. Some breeds simply have more of a tendency to want to run and explore. This attitude increases their risk of wandering too far from the safety of home.

If you ever encounter a lost dog, think about what you might want a stranger to do for your dog. Should this ever happen, here are a few actionable tips to keep both you and the dog as safe as possible.

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1. Approach Them Slowly and Carefully

While some dogs might be ready to make a new friend with a stranger, more often than not, they will not be in such a state at that time. They have wandered too far and are more than likely in entirely unfamiliar territory by the time that they realize it.

Fear reactions are a leading cause of dog bites in scenarios such as these. It stands true even among dogs who have never been known to show any aggression before. Do your best to keep them calm to protect both of you.

person reaching out to dog
Image: Pixabay

  • Get low

Towering over a dog can feel threatening, like you might be trying to assert your dominance. Get as close as you can to their height to impress that you aren’t as much of a threat.

  • Talk quietly

Loud noises scare anyone, much less in a frightening situation. Don’t slam on your brakes or shout to get their attention. If you call them, try to sound calm and steady.

  • Don’t hold direct eye contact

Maintaining direct eye contact with almost any animal makes it seem like a battle in dominance. Instead, get their attention with your voice and slowly come toward them.

  • Offer a car ride

For some pups, their favorite activities include getting a car ride. Try to offer them one by opening the back door and standing off to the side.

  • Take them a treat

Making a dog feel more comfortable with food is a handy way to earn their trust. Whether it’s a dog treat or part of your lunch, making the offering can be enticing. Just make sure it isn’t toxic for them.

If the pup continues to run away, you simply don’t have the time to get them to feel comfortable with you, or they behave aggressively, call your local animal shelter. If you can, try to wait near the dog until they can arrive and secure them safely.

2. Secure and Contain Them

The maneuvers to earn the doggo’s trust was a success, but now what? First, secure them carefully, so they don’t get away again. Don’t use it to control them, though, as this can quickly manifest in aggression.

The best option to use would be a leash of some sort. However, this isn’t always on hand. You can also use a belt, a piece of rope, or a longer piece of clothing, even if it is a bit of a stretch.

Keeping them safe once you have them is the priority. You might want to immediately take them to a shelter if it isn’t an option for you to bring them to your home.

Otherwise, keep them secure in a fenced-in yard or a larger room in the house.

dog inside crate
Image: Pixabay

Keep All Parties Safe and Healthy

A recent survey found that about 67% of American households own a pet. It stands to reason that you have other furry or scaly friends living with you. Since you don’t know much about your new canine compatriot, don’t allow them to mingle with your pets to keep them safe.

It is better to do this, anyway, because other animals or strangers can cause frightened dogs even more stress. Stress does not manifest in generally positive actions and can put you all in danger. Keep them in an enclosed, separated space, like a laundry room or an outdoor patio.

If you look into keeping them for a while or at least until their owner is found, consider taking them to a vet. They can do a checkup and ensure that they are not a threat to your other animal’s health.

Once you have done this, don’t take it as an immediate green light. Reduce the stress of introductions by keeping them quiet and doing it one at a time. Even if dogs aren’t aggressive with other people, they can be around other dogs. It is best to have a barrier up when two animals first meet until you know how they react.

3. Identifying the Owner

Now that the pup, you, and your family are all settled, it is time to get them back home. In today’s world of technology, this can be easier to do than ever.

  • Check for a tag

Take the easiest route first. Check to see if they have an I.D. tag on their collar. Commonly, owners will put a small metal tag on the collar identifying the dog’s name, the owner’s contact number, and even their address.

  • Notify the places they might check

If they don’t have an I.D. tag, the next step is to call around the local area. Notify the local shelters, clinics, and animal control that you found a lost dog, and give them a description. The owner of a lost dog is likely to check in these places as a first step to finding them.

  • Scan for a microchip

Next is to check for a microchip. Nowadays, many pet owners are equipping their dogs and cats with a microchip in their legs. It has information on the owner’s address, phone number, and more programmed through whatever company the chip is tagged.

To do this, find a business that has a chip scanner. Most veterinary clinics, animal shelters, animal control, and even retail pet supply stores have them.

  • Utilize the internet

Sometimes, communities are just as involved online as they are in person and between businesses. Check through local Facebook pages or websites for someone who might post about a missing pup.

  • Decide between your home and the local animal shelter

If all of these options don’t lead to finding the dog’s family, it is time to make a few decisions. Does the dog stay with you, or should they be given to the local animal shelter? The option that you choose entirely depends on your home situation and preference. The priority is to keep them safe and relaxed.

paws and dog tag
Image: Pixabay

4. Spread the Word

Finally, if all else fails, go traditional. Take a quality photo of the dog that clearly shows their face and body. Post these up on flyers, and give readers an actionable way to get a hold of you, a veterinary office, or a shelter.

If you don’t think that they wandered far from their home, try going door-to-door in the neighborhood you found them. Take the pictures with you.

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Featured Image Credit: Pixabay