How To Find a Lost Dog: A Step-By-Step Guide

4 min read
Feb 16, 2023

None of us wants to imagine our beloved pets going missing, but accidents can happen. Your dog could slip out of their collar on a walk or dig their way under the fence. While these scenarios may not happen, it’s important to have a plan for what to do if your pet does go missing.

Why Do Dogs Run Away?

While it’s distressing to have a missing dog, it can help to have a better understanding of why they ran off in the first place. Pets can run away for a number of reasons. Some of the most common ones are:1

  • Fear: Something scared them, like a loud noise or an unfamiliar place.
  • Separation anxiety: Being away from you can stress your pup out, causing them to run off while you’re gone. 
  • Boredom: If your dog gets bored, they may feel the urge to go explore.
  • Mating instinct: If your dog hasn’t been fixed, they may run off in search of a mate.
  • Hunting instinct: Seeing another animal, like a squirrel or cat, could trigger your dog’s hunting instincts, causing them to run after it.

How To Find a Lost Dog

If your dog runs off, there are ways to find your beloved pet and bring them back home safely. Here’s what you may want to do.

Search the area

The first thing you may want to do when you realize your dog has gone missing is to search around where you last saw them. Drive or walk around the immediate area and call your dog’s name. Bring a toy they like and their favorite treats. Dedicate a significant amount of time to looking for them. Don’t be afraid to explore a wide radius from where you lost them.

Contact local animal shelters

Often, stray dogs are reported to local animal shelters and picked up by animal control so they’re no longer roaming the streets. Sometimes helpful locals will also bring a lost animal into the shelter in hopes that the owner will come looking for them.

Call your local animal shelters and report your dog as lost. Provide them with a description of your pet and the best ways to reach you.

Check local veterinarians and animal hospitals

If someone finds a lost pet, they’ll often bring them to a local vet or animal hospital in hopes that the professionals there will know how to help. Check local vet offices and hospitals to see if someone brought your pet there. Many veterinary clinics offer pet boarding, so they’ll likely have kennels where they could keep a lost pet while they look for their owner.

Post on social media

Social media can be a powerful way to find your lost pet. There’s no doubt that you have plenty of adorable photos of your furry friend. Create a post with a clear image (or, better yet, several images) of your pet and let people know they're missing.

Be sure to include your contact information and any other pertinent information that would help someone identify or approach your pet. Publish the post on your social media profiles and make sure you adjust the settings to allow others to share it.

Check local missing pet groups on social media

Once you’ve posted your own notice on your social media, check out local missing pet groups for your area or the area where your dog went missing. These groups can be extremely helpful when it comes to spreading the word and sharing advice.

Create missing dog flyers

It might seem silly in this day and age, but in the case of a missing pet, flyers can still be effective. The content of your flyer will be the same as your social media post, but with bigger print and an eye-catching headline — and don’t forget to include plenty of pet pictures!

Hang flyers near where your pet disappeared and also near your home in places like community bulletin boards at local businesses, supermarkets, community centers, and coffee shops.

Offer a reward

A great way to get your community involved in your search is to offer a reward if someone finds your furry family member. You can include the reward information on your social media posts and any flyers you hang. Plus, with a dog insurance policy from MetLife Pet, reward money could be covered and may be reimbursed.2

How to Find a Lost Dog With a Microchip

While microchips don’t have GPS capabilities, they can be very helpful in finding lost pets. A study by the American Veterinary Association found that dogs with microchips were returned to their families 52.2% of the time, while dogs without microchips were returned in only 21.9% of reported instances.3

One of the first things a shelter, vet, or clinic will do if a lost pet is brought to them is to scan for a microchip. The most important thing for you to do is regularly make sure your contact information is up to date. That way, if you do have a missing dog, they’ll be able to contact you to reunite you with your furry friend.

Bring Your Lost Dog Home Safe

Understandably, it’s stressful when your pet goes missing, but the good news is that your pet is probably just as eager to return to you as you are to find them. Don’t give up your search, and try these steps to find your beloved pet and bring them back home safely.

Once your furry friend is back by your side, you may want to bring them to the vet to get checked out. Pet insurance from MetLife Pet may be able to help help with this and other veterinary costs.2 Get a free quote today.

Protect your Pets

Enroll in 3 Easy Steps

1 “Why Do Dogs Run Away? 6 Reasons + How To Keep Your Dog Safe,” Tractive

2 Provided all terms of the policy are met. Application is subject to underwriting review and approval. Like most insurance policies, insurance policies issued by IAIC and MetGen contain certain deductibles, co-insurance, exclusions, exceptions, reductions, limitations, and terms for keeping them in force. For costs, complete details of coverage and exclusions, and a listing of approved states, please contact MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC.

3 “Characterization of animals with microchips entering animal shelters in,” Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association Volume 235 Issue 2

Coverage underwritten and issued by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 11333 N Scottsdale Rd, Ste 160, Scottsdale, AZ 85254 or Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886. Coverage subject to restrictions, exclusions and limitations. Application is subject to underwriting review. See policy or contact MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC for details. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator for this coverage. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois).

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