DO DOGS KNOW THEY ARE LOST?
How Do Dogs Get Lost?
Usually, dogs don’t intend to run off and leave you. They’ve simply smelled something interesting and gone off to explore. However, some dog breeds are more likely to run away than others, especially if they’re feeling lonely or neglected. Perhaps your dog scampered off to look for a playmate! Additionally, depending on the dog’s breed and temperament, it can take a while for a dog to realize it’s lost. For example, it could take a hunting dog, hot on the trail of prey, much longer than it would take a toy dog to realize it’s out on its own. You may be searching for your dog long before it’s looking for you. Eventually, though, all dogs will understand that they’re lost. The bond between dog and owner is just as important to your furry friend as it is to you!
Do Lost Dogs Feel Afraid?
All dogs feel scared and afraid to some extent once they realize they’re lost. But several factors can affect how each dog will react. Dogs who are generally more nervous and guarded may run away from people and hide in the shadows. This can make it harder to track them down. On the other hand, sociable, outgoing dogs who are unafraid of strangers, like the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, will seek out humans to help and feed them. If a dog is lost for a long period and feels very scared, this can trigger its nervous system to go into “survival mode”. If this happens, your dog may forget who you are, temporarily or permanently, even if it is eventually found.
How Do I Prevent My Dog from Getting Lost?
Preventing your dog from getting lost starts at home. It’s important to make sure that all your dog’s needs are fully satisfied, so your pooch doesn’t feel bored or lonely and tempted to run away. When you’re out and about, keep your dog on a lead at all times unless you’re in an area you know to be fully secure, like a dog park. Training your dog to walk to heel and come back to you when you call is also very important, and can help prevent accidents.
To have the best chance of your dog being returned to you if it does get lost, consider getting it microchipped. A microchip is a tiny electronic device, about the size of a grain of rice, which contains a unique number. Each microchip number links to a database where the pet and owner’s details are recorded. Most vets and rescue shelters can scan a lost dog for a microchip to locate this information and contact the owner. Unfortunately, far too many dogs are put down each year, simply because their owner couldn’t be contacted.