If you have lost your dog, do not despair. The large majority turn up quickly and most turn up within hours.
First, it is worth waiting for a short period of about half an hour wherever you last saw your dog. Many dogs, even on unfamiliar territory, have the ability to retrace their steps. If your dog has escaped on a walk, they may well make their way home if they are within 10 km or so. If your dog has escaped from your home, they will probably have their bearings and be able to return.
The main problem with waiting for dogs to return to you is that they may encounter dangers out in the real world, or they may become a danger themselves. The only time when you may feel there is little point waiting for your dog is when your dog is very fearful or timid, or if your dog is relatively new. If you can, enlist family members or friends to stay at home or where you lost sight of the dog whilst you organise a better search party.
When you are happy that the dog can get back in at your home or that there is someone waiting where you lost sight of the dog, start to do an initial tour of the area on bike or by car, using wider and wider circles but coming back frequently to where they ran from. If you see people, ask them if they have seen your dog. Remember to look near bins and houses, and to listen out for the Midnight Barking. If your dog passes a garden, the dogs there may well bark and let you know where your dog is.
Circle back on yourself and then expand outwards again. Intercepting your dog as early as possible means that they are less likely to run off beyond their limits and get lost.
Stop at shops, houses or businesses and ask them to keep an eye out for your dog. Leave them a mobile phone number.
Ask if a friend can supervise an online campaign and start to print out leaflets to hand out.
Contact ICAD with your dog’s details and make sure your contact details are up to date. You can also allow anyone who finds the dog to contact you directly.
Publish an announcement on these sites and also on Facebook along with a couple of good-quality photos. Don’t forget to put in as much detail as possible. What you might describe as a Parson Russell terrier may well be a ratier to somebody else. Leave out a little detail so that you can ask the finder to verify the dog. You would be horrified to learn how many people will take advantage of you at a time like this. You may, for instance, want to withhold the collar colour or a distinctive patch.
Many dogs turn up overnight. They are hungry and tired, their adventure is over and they come home. Fearful dogs will need a different approach as they will need you to continue looking for them. It is likely they will ‘go to ground’ because they are scared.
If your dog is still missing after 12 hours, print out posters to post on lampposts, in letterboxes and to give to neighbours where the dog went missing. Check with vets within 20km, with the emergency services and with the fourrière (pound) to see if your dog has been found. Use your Yellow Pages to ensure you cover them all. Even an elderly dog can cover ten miles in a day. If they are picked up, they may be driven to a vet or fourrière that is further away.
Tell your post delivery person, local bakers and local merchants who drive about. They may well see your dog or speak to someone who has. Share your dog’s photo everywhere but don’t give up hope. Most lost dogs manage to make their way home safely. The more people looking for them, the more likely it is that they will be found.