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WHAT DO DOGS DO WHEN THEY ARE LOST?

Depending on the breed, you may be searching for your dog long before it realizes it’s lost and starts looking for you. But what do dogs do once they recognize that they’re out on their own?

How Do Lost Dogs Behave?

Lost dogs behave differently depending on their breed, age, and temperament. Elderly or disabled dogs aren’t likely to get far, for example, and are usually found within 1 to 2 miles of their home. Dogs with a gregarious temperament will seek out humans to help and feed them, which may lead to them being rescued quicker. Purebred dogs are often deemed more attractive which also makes them more likely to be picked up. On the other hand, mixed-breed dogs could be mistaken for wild animals, especially if they are displaying fearful behaviors, such as running away from people or hiding in the shadows. Dogs with a nervous or aggressive nature may feel especially triggered by the traumatic situation. Upon realising they’re lost, these dogs may run in a blind panic and end up travelling quite far.


Nonetheless, no matter the breed or type, all dogs will eventually start to feel afraid once they realize they’re alone without access to food, water, and shelter. Some dogs can even go into “survival mode” which is a condition that causes a dog to regress to its most primal instincts. Dogs in survival mode will often seek out sheltered areas like woods or forests where they can avoid human contact. This can make it harder to track them down.

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What Do I Do if I Find a Lost Dog?

If you come across a dog that appears to be scared or lost, be sure to approach it carefully. Make yourself appear less intimidating by moving slowly, keeping your body turned to the side, and looking away. Once you’ve established that the dog is okay with having you near, try and secure it to keep it safe. Find something you can use as a makeshift leash. Then, check the dog’s collar for a tag with the owner’s contact information.

How Do I Get the Word Out About a Lost Dog?

If you don’t succeed in contacting the owner, it’s important to alert your local animal rescue shelter, vet, and police station as soon as possible after you find a lost dog. A vet will be able to scan the lost dog for a microchip and hopefully help you contact the owner. Additionally, you can create a virtual “dog found” poster to get the word out. Since 2019, you can also use Boost by Pet Alert to help maximize the visibility of your dog found post on Facebook. This incredibly effective system targets people who live within 6 miles of the area where you found the dog, so even people who don’t follow you or the page will see your ad. It significantly increases the chances of the right person seeing your post and the lost dog being reunited with its owner.