If your dog escapes, shelters, veterinary clinics, and boarding facilities are just a few of the places to search.

Statistics show that one out of three dogs will be lost at some time during its life. Those wearing identification such as tags or a microchip will likely be returned while the majority of those without identification will never be found.

How Dogs Get Lost

Dogs may escape due to boredom, loneliness, fear, hunger, or in search of a mate. They may chew, climb or dig under the fence or squeeze through a tiny hole or carelessly latched gate, or sneak out a house door or car door held open a moment too long, or get stolen. Pets are most likely to disappear on the Fourth of July, Halloween, and during a thunderstorm.


Understanding how dogs get lost and taking a few precautions can prevent a heartbreaking situation.

Make sure all fences, gates, doors and windows are secure. Check fencing regularly as it can deteriorate or shift.

  • Check for evidence of attempts to dig out or climb out
  • Be careful that your dog doesn’t sneak past you in the doorway.
  • Keep ID, including rabies tag, on your dog at all times.
  • Make sure your microchip information is always up to date.
  • Keep your dog on leash when outside the fence and while traveling.
  • Spay or neuter your dog to discourage wandering.
  • Always have several good photos of your dog to help with identification.
Preventing Lost Pets

Preventing Lost Pets

Tips for Searching

If your dog, in spite of all precautions, becomes lost, a diligent search can help bring him back home.

  • Begin your search in the last place the dog was known to have been.
  • Search your own property. Sick and injured dogs instinctively hide to protect their vulnerability. Check all nooks and crannies around your home. Dogs have been found in abandoned wells, culverts, and under storage sheds.
  • Try to think like your dog. Where would he go? Does he have a buddy down the street? If there is a school nearby, would he be attracted to the children?
  • Flyers are very effective. Post flyers, including a photo of your dog and an unspecified reward, all over your neighborhood, with trainers, in veterinary offices, grooming businesses, boarding facilities, pet stores and other businesses.
  • Post on social networks.
  • Alert people who are out and about such as mail carriers, newspaper carriers, pizza deliverers, and children who play in the neighborhood.
  • Post an ad in the newspaper. Most of these ads run free of charge. When run time is ended, wait a few days and place the ad again. Also read the found ads.
  • Check with all shelters, pounds, veterinary offices, and boarding facilities within a 50 mile radius. Visit as many of them as you can every two to three days. Do not rely on a description over the phone as different people may describe the same dog very differently. About 1/3 of lost dogs are found more than ten miles from home. Be sure to leave them all your contact information in case your dog is brought in later.
  • Check with the Department of Transportation and Animal Control who pick up dead animals. If your pet is found this way, it’s better than not knowing.
  • Never give up. Dogs have been found after months and even years.

Word of Caution

Be cautious if someone claims to have your dog and asks that you send them money for its return.

Ask anyone who claims to have found your dog to thoroughly describe it. Listen for identifying features that you left out of your ad. Never give out your address. Arrange to meet them in a public place and take someone with you.

How to Find a Lost Dog Video