Nature Wisdom

with Pat Tuholske, Naturalist

Finding Your Dog

If your dog is missing:

  • Take immediate action and start searching.
  • Contact local veterinarians, 24-hour clinics, shelters and rescue groups. Go in person to check shelters within the first few days and revisit until you find your dog.
  • Print flyers and hand them out to area residents. Knock on doors and notify your neighbors. Tell the mail carrier, the UPS driver, utility workers, gas stations attendants, store clerks, animal control officers.
  • Make large visible posters for high traffic areas. Stand at intersections of sightings with these posters to alert those frequenting the area.

Most important: Never chase after or yell at an escaped or lost dog!! Lure her rather than chase her.

MissingPetPartnership.org provides the following tips for successfully locating a missing dog.

Dogs are more difficult to recover than lost cats because they travel farther and may be picked up by rescuers who determine their fate. These are the major factors influencing how far lost dogs travel:

Temperament of the dog

  • Gregarious “wiggle butt” dogs are friendly and more inclined to go directly up to the first person who calls them. They will generally be found fairly close to home or will be picked up by someone close to the escape point. They are often “adopted” by individuals who find them.
  • Aloof dogs are never comfortable with strangers and will avoid human contact until they overcome their fear or become hungry enough. While these dogs can travel a great distance, aloof dogs eventually can be enticed with food and patience. Experienced rescue group volunteers often recover them and their wariness can be misinterpreted as “abused.”
  • Fearful / Xenophobic dogs are afraid of anything unfamiliar and are more inclined to travel farther and are at higher risk of being hit by cars. It may be necessary to use other dogs or baited humane traps to capture these dogs.

Circumstances surrounding the disappearance: A dog that digs out from a yard to explore a scent will tend to travel a short distance before it is found meandering and doubling back as it explores a scent. A dog that bolts in panic due to fireworks or thunder will take off at a blind run and can run for several miles.

Weather: A dog that escapes on a beautiful day will travel farther than one that escapes in a snowstorm.
Terrain: A dog that escapes in a residential area will not travel as far as a dog that escapes in a rural area.
Appearance: Small dogs and friendly breeds are more likely to be picked up quickly by a rescuer.
Population Density: When dogs escape into areas with high numbers of people, their chances of being found close to the escape point are increased.

For more details on proper search technique go to MissingPetPartnership.org.

StLLostPets.org is a collaboration of the Animal Protective Association (APA), St. Louis County Animal Care and Control and the Humane Society of Missouri. St. Louis Lost Pets keeps a record of found dogs and cats and you can also fill out a Lost Pet Report to add to their database.

Go to K9Alliance.info to learn how to create an ID kit for your dog.
Don’t give up hope! The more you search, the greater your chances of a happy reunion with your dog.

Pat Tuholske is available for lost pet consultations and searches. Contact her at K9Alliance.info. Check out Pat’s journal “Nature as Healer” for musings on the Human-Nature relationship. Go to pattuholske.com.