How to Find a Lost Puppy

Lost Dog Poster

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The idea of losing a puppy can be distressing. The ASPCA reports that around 15 percent of people lose a pet every year, and even older dogs may not have a clue how to find their way home. Puppies are at even greater risk of being injured by cars or picked up—and kept—by the well-meaning people who find them.

Whether the lawn mowing crew fails to latch the dog’s backyard gate or Halloween trick or treaters leave the front door ajar when the doorbell rings, a pet can slip out in an instant. Don't wait until your puppy becomes lost.

It's ideal to have your puppy wear some type of identification. A metal or plastic tag with your contact information attached to the pup’s collar offers the simplest method of identification. A rabies tag serial number with clinic contact information also helps. With that information, people can call the clinic, where they look up the serial number to identify the pet and his owner. Tattoos and microchips are also common and effective forms of puppy identification.

Prepare for the worst, but take steps to prevent your pets from ever becoming lost.

Visit the Shelter

People often take strays to the local shelter; however, it's not going to be the best bet to call and ask about a missing Great Pyrenees puppy. Baby dogs often look different than adults of the breed, and the shelter staff may not always recognize your verbal description. Instead, visit several times to see if somebody has turned him in. Don't take the staff's word for it — insist on eyeballing the dogs. Your white fluffy baby may have rolled in the mud and now look brown, and you're in the best position to recognize your furry wonder.

Tell the Neighborhood

Alert your neighbors to be on the lookout for a lost pet. Kindly pet lovers may take in a friendly stray and watch for “lost” ads in the newspaper before taking them to the shelter. Go door to door, and ask permission to check outbuildings, under porches where puppies might hide or become trapped in an infrequently used garage. Holidays, when neighbors leave town, may mean the pet becomes trapped and not noticed for days or weeks.

Advertise Your Lost Puppy

Make posters or fliers to leave with neighbors or at the shelter that includes several photos documenting a close up of the face, full-body shots from both sides and the back, and any distinguishing marks. Lots of folks have a Labrador or Golden Retriever, but yours may be the only one with three pink freckles in a triangular pattern on a white tummy. Check with local newspapers about posting "lost pet" notices—often they do this for free.

Be Specific

Avoid describing pets as a Labradoodle or a "whatever" cross when the combination can vary. Offer specifics: curly chocolate-colored fur, one ear up and one down, 45​-pound neutered male, floppy (or erect) ears, docked tail, answers to “Spiffy” and dances and spins when you say “want a cookie?”

Track Your Puppy Down

Specially trained dogs are available to track down missing pets. Because a pet's scent can fade over time, it's important to contact a tracking dog organization for help as soon as possible. You'll be asked to provide the puppy's favorite toy, a blanket or brush that smells like him for the tracking dog to scent and know what he's looking for.