How to Find a Lost Dog

Find your lost dog--and prevent losing her in the first place.

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA
5-minute read
Episode #66

You’ve probably had that heartstopping moment: you look around and suddenly realize you don’t just quite exactly know where your dog is. Usually, that feeling ends in a flood of relief a few seconds later, when you realize your view of her was blocked by another dog in an off-leash group, or when you call her and she comes crashing out of the underbrush toward you.  

But sometimes there is no flood of relief--your dog has really, truly gotten lost. Today I’ll discuss what to do if that heartstopping scenario comes true for you and give you tips on how to find a lost dog.

How Not to Lose Your Dog

Better than finding your lost dog, of course, is never losing her in the first place. The best way to prevent your dog from getting lost is to teach her that coming when called is the most fun thing a dog can do, and practice, practice, practice in lots of places with lots of distractions. Another important safety measure: teach your dog to wait for permission before going out an open door or getting out of your car.

How to Find a Lost Dog

But if a fire or a natural disaster separates you from your dog, she may wind up many miles away before you even know she’s gone. Or if something has panicked her, even an excellent recall may fail you. Whatever the circumstances that separate you from your dog, don’t wait for her to find her way home. Start looking immediately. The more time goes by, the farther she may travel.

Collar Tags Can Help You Find Your Lost Dog

Your dog’s collar tags should provide contact info, not only for you but also for a backup such as your vet’s office. (By the way, that’s a flat collar that closes with a buckle or a clip. I hope you don’t use a choke or prong, but if you do, take it off when you’re not actually using it.) For travel, pet supply stores sell instant make-it-yourself tags that you can fill out with your local contact info.


About the Author

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA

Jolanta holds professional certifications in both training and behavior counseling and belongs to the Association of Professional Dog Trainers and the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. She also volunteered with Pet Help Partners, a program of the Humane Society of the United States that works to prevent pet relinquishment. Her approach is generally behaviorist (Pavlovian, Skinnerian and post-Skinnerian learning theory) with a big helping of ethology (animal behavior as observed in non-experimental settings).