Perhaps every dog owner’s worst nightmare… your dog is suddenly gone. Usually it is a bit of a shock, but your dog will be back soon. He was just following a trail, or chasing a rabbit. Happy! But… sometimes it happens that your dog doesn’t come back. He is gone. You call, you search… and then? What should you and should not do if your dog goes missing?
How did your dog go missing?
Your dog can go missing in several ways.
- He can go hunting, so run after game on a walk
- Your dog can be startled by fireworks or thunder during a walk
- Intact males can sometimes run away because they get the smell of bitches in heat in the nose
- Your dog may have disappeared from your house or garden
- There are dogs that want to flee because they come into an unfamiliar environment or situation
Your dog has gone after wild
Usually a dog can find its way back. So if you see that your dog is going hunting, it is best to wait at the place where you were at that moment. In most cases, your dog will come back after finding out that it can’t get hold of the prey.
This is of course different if it works. Then it is possible that your dog will eat his prey and he will not come back to you (quickly). The dangers of hunting, of course, are roads (dogs don’t pay attention to traffic when a hare runs away from them) and if your dog has torn free with the leash still attached, he could get stuck. Terriers and Dachshunds sometimes get stuck underground.back to menu ↑
Your dog is scared of something
A dog running away in panic is a very common situation. Every year on New Year’s Eve, many dogs go missing because they are frightened by the fireworks explosions.
Another situation I have encountered quite often is dogs running away in panic after being chased by other dogs. Dogs that have been involved in a car accident and are able to get out of the car also often run away in a panic. These situations are often real emergencies! Sometimes a dog runs home in a panic when he is around.
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Males on seduction mission
Males can smell a bitch in heat from a great distance and may decide to seduce the lady. And then some males can be really East Indian deaf. The advantage is that when a male without an owner comes to a bitch, the owner of the bitch finds out that there is no boss present. These are often short-lived disappearances.back to menu ↑
Your dog has disappeared from your house or garden
If you accidentally left the door open, your dog may just go exploring or make an attempt to find you. Older dogs sometimes consciously run away from home as the end draws near. Dementia also occurs in dogs, of course, then your dog is literally lost.
It is also possible that your dog has been taken. These situations, where your dog has suddenly disappeared from the house, are especially difficult because you don’t know whether your dog was startled, has gone on a voyage of discovery, or has been taken along.
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Your dog runs away from an unfamiliar situation
This category includes foreign dogs that try to escape because they are very anxious or very fond of their freedom. Despite the anti-escape harnesses and all the advice not to let go of the dog for the time being, it still happens regularly that a dog manages to escape.
Dogs can then travel enormous distances. And the fearful dogs, who have little experience with people and are used to taking care of themselves, are really hard to find and catch again.back to menu ↑
When should you be concerned?
If your dog has run away to hunt and he doesn’t come back in a few hours (especially if he has a leash attached to him!), then you can take action. With dogs that leave in a panic, it makes sense that you should be concerned right away. With males that go after the ladies, you have to chase them quickly, also to prevent unwanted offspring. With elderly dogs and young puppies, a missing person is always a worrying situation.
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What are the dangers?
A dog that has run away can be hit by a car. Someone can take your dog and not always with good intentions. If your dog has a leash behind him when he runs away, it could get caught on something.
If your dog falls into a canal that he can’t get out of… dogs can often swim well, but drown because they’re panicked and can’t get out because of steep walls. So that is a risk.
Weather conditions can also be a hazard. In extreme heat, the temperature can be fatal, especially when the disappearance is accompanied by extreme physical exertion (hunting or running away in panic). Dehydration happens very quickly, especially in young dogs.back to menu ↑
How will you search?
Always make sure that someone who knows and trusts your dog stays where your dog went missing. In most cases, your dog will return to this place. There you can also post with another dog in the family if there is one, or a canine friend that your dog gets along very well.
If this is not an option, make a ‘feeding place’ here, with your dog’s rug, a bowl of water and a bowl of tasty food. Look in the direction your dog has disappeared and talk or yell in a calm, neutral tone. Panic screaming will only make your dog avoid you.
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Report the missing person
Immediately report the missing dog to AmiVedi, the animal ambulance, area veterinarians and animal shelters. Give a clear description of your dog; breed, gender, age, size, color, coat type and any other characteristics such as coat markings, collar, scars, anything that is typical of your dog. Also the chip number!
Check that your details are correct, especially your telephone number. Also report it to the forest rangers (if your dog has disappeared in the wild) and to local police officers/police in the area.back to menu ↑
Making and hanging flyers
The sooner you can put up flyers in the area from which your dog is missing, the better. Provide a clear photo of your dog on which he can be recognized as well as possible. If your dog has just been to the groomer and now has a short haircut, do not post a photo of his long-haired appearance on the flyer.
State clearly whether or not your dog can be approached, the name of your dog and your telephone number. Hang the flyers within a radius of 5 kilometers, in places where pedestrians and cyclists pass. Put the flyers in plastic sleeves, otherwise all data will be washed away with the first rain shower.
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Help finding your missing dog
Social media can be a powerful tool! So post a message on Facebook/Instagram on your timeline, in the giveaway corners, in as many places as possible asking to share the message. You will probably have people looking for help in no time.
Ask one person to keep an overview; who is looking where, on foot or by bike or car, who hangs up flyers. Creating an app group is very useful, because the location of a view report can be shared very quickly and conveniently. The person can also give instructions to the people who help search, such as not to shout loudly and not to chase the dog.back to menu ↑
A dog is looking for your missing dog
There are also sniffer dogs that are specially trained to track down a missing dog. For this you need something that smells like your missing dog; his pillow or blanket, a jacket or a collar or harness. Put this in a sealed plastic bag and have it available at the place where your dog was last seen with certainty.
Placing a trap is not just allowed in the forest; ask the forest rangers if this seems necessary!
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You see your missing dog!
Then, when you see your dog, try to remain calm and not run after him in relief. Dogs can quickly go into survival mode, making them very fearful and even fleeing from familiar people. Speak calmly and try to approach your dog so that your scent goes to him. In other words, wind at your back.
Stop if you see that your dog is nervous. If necessary, sit down and talk with words that have meaning for your dog. Like commands he likes to perform, phrases like “are you coming?” and as difficult as it is, keep your voice calm and neutral or cheerful. When you are with your dog, leash him gently.back to menu ↑
What do you do after your dog is found again?
When your dog returns, check it for wounds, ticks, and other damage. If necessary, go to the vet. If he’s been gone really long, he might be hungry and thirsty. Give him water and feed in small amounts, not too much at once.
Report to all authorities that your dog has been found, also in the messages on social media. Remove all flyers and clean up the feeding area(s). Thank all auxiliaries! And… rest your dog. Even a brief disappearance can be very hard on a dog.
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Don’t let your dog run free if he hasn’t learned to come here reliably.
Does your dog wear a collar or harness? Then attach a tag with a telephone number to it, or sew a strip of fabric on which your telephone number is printed. Provide a collar or harness that does not come off easily if something startles your dog.
Is your garden fence safe? Make sure your dog is microchipped and your details are up to date!