When Your Dog Goes Missing

    Having a pet go missing can be quite scary, extremely stressful, and downright heartbreaking.  What do you do first? Will you ever get you dog back? Who will help me? These are probably only a few of the questions that race through your mind. What you do next can help increase your chances of being reunited with your lost pet. Often what you need to do will require work and a positive attitude. CT Dog Gone Recovery Volunteers (DGR) are here to help guide you on what you need to to do to increase your chances of bringing your dog home. Since DGR volunteers can not always be out in the field searching for your missing dog, we offer you these tips in hopes that it will give you a direction in which to start your search.  We wish you the pest of luck and hope you are reunited soon.


1. Do a Quick Search of the area to see if you can locate your dog.


2. Notify Animal Control. Provide them with the following information:

  • Description of your dog

  • Picture of your dog if you have one

  • Phone number, where you can be reached 24/7

  • Breed of dog

  • Age of dog

  • Gender of dog

  • If dog is wearing a collar or ID's

  • If dog has a microchip, and/or an identifying tattoo

  • Any special medical considerations

  • If your dog is an emotional support dog or service dog


3. Turn OFF the electric fence immediately if your dog is wearing an electronic collar.


4. Place something with your scent on it in the yard, along with some water and food, preferably in a more shaded or sheltered area if your dog returns to your yard.


5. Contact Shelters and local Rescues. DGR highly advocates checking in with them every couple of days. Even better if you can visit them and check the dogs in the kennel yourself. There have been instances where the lost dog has been found in one of these places despite a call and flyer sent to them. When you go to these places bring an ID and proof of ownership.


6. A Volunteer with CT Dog Gone Recovery will create a format for you for an 11 X 17 poster. We suggest you order 30 to start. Order them on card stock paper. A minimum of 67 lb stock paper. Place them at intersections in a 2- 3 mile radius to start. 

  • In Some Cases, The word *REWARD (optional) can be added at the very bottom of the page and the phone number just above it. If REWARD is not advised by your lead, use the words PLEASE HELP instead. 


*(DGR has found that on occasions offering a REWARD can be an incentive to motivate people to report info on the whereabouts of your lost dog. Please discuss using a REWARD with a DGR volunteer.)


We suggest you place posters in a 3-5 mile radius. Additional information on posters and flyers can be found on a separate handout. A DGR volunteer is also available to walk you thru and assist in the process.


7. Only use Flyers as posters when placing them in locations with foot traffic such shelters, stores, gas stations, etc. A DGR volunteer can make one for you if need as well as offer a few suggestions as to where they should be placed. Flyers should be made on  8 1/2 x 11 paper and include:


  • Everything recommended  for posters in step 6 only smaller sized.

  • Where the dog went missing




We also recommend handing out flyers to people that you see in passing. Furthermore, once you have an idea of the general area of where your dog is located go there and place a flyer between the mailbox and red flag. It is illegal to place them inside the mailbox.  A volunteer can review with you this and other services that alert people in the area about your lost dog.


8. Gather Information when you start receiving calls about sightings:

  • The exact location the dog is or was seen.

  • The date and time of the sighting.

  • The condition of the dog. (Healthy, Hurt, Sick, Hungry, etc)

  • Name of caller

  • Telephone number where they could be reached


Next mark on a map (you could print one off from Google Maps) all areas where sightings are called in and their exact locations, date, and time of day.  When people call in sightings ask them to not post the sightings on Facebook. When people post sightings, other well-meaning people try and help, they go where the sightings were to search for the dog, but more than often then end up chasing the dog away. The goal is to keep the dog in the same area and not pushed out because he/she is frightened. So please DO NOT post the sightings on facebook. If you are working with a DGR volunteer, please contact them and they will guide you on what to do next.


9.  Consult with a DGR volunteer once you know where your dog is located. If your dog is in survival mode then the dog will not come to you. A dog in survival mode is fearful of everything. It is often difficult for an owner of a lost dog to accept the fact that their dog would be frightened of and run away from them. It is vitally important to not to yell out or chase after your dog. The best and safest way to catch a dog in survival mode is to use a humane trap and a trail camera. Volunteers have traps and remote GPS A trail cameras. Additionally, they can recommend on how and where to set up the trap and type of bait to use in the trap.


10.  Implement Calming Signals if you see your dog and the situation seems as though your dog may respond. Be sure to have a slip lead, favorite irresistible high premium treats, and/ or favorite type of toy that will grab your dog’s interest. Sit quietly on the ground near where the dog is spotted. You could play with the toy or pretend to eat something off the ground while ignoring the dog. Let the dog come to you. Do NOT stare, or make eye contact with your dog. Additionally, is extremely important to NOT quickly reach out or chase after your dog. You want to gain his/her trust. You may call calmly his/her name or say the word treat or walk or something they know well and will enjoy.  Stop if this activity if it appears to be making the dog more fearful. A DGR volunteer will work with you to set up the best strategy.


11.  Use another dog as a Magnet Dog If your dog is bonded to another dog. Be sure to slip lead with you for your loose dog. If your loose dog is known to be in a certain area, walk the other dog (be sure he/she is harnessed and on an extra long leash) and allow the leashed dog to mark and leave plenty of its scent around. After you both walk around a while, go sit somewhere nearby and wait quietly. If you happen to see your dog, stay seated and allow the leashed dog to wander around you. While your loose dog approaches the tethered dog, slowly bring the tethered dog towards you. Hopefully, this will lure your dog towards you as well. When your dog gets closer you might be able to throw some treats towards him/her eventually getting the dog closer to you so you can get him/her on a leash. A DGR volunteer can help you with this and other methods using a magnet dog.


12. Seek help from a DGR Volunteer, they may be able to offer other suggestions for you to consider depending on your situation.


13.  Stay Positive and Never Give Up!