Deirdre’s gangly, year-old German shepherd, Wesley, was hanging his head out a fully open car window when he saw something too tempting to resist and leaped into traffic. She screamed his name, and pulled over to the curb as soon as possible. But Wesley was gone and now a lost dog.
An hour later, Deirdre found him uninjured but shaking under a bush in a neighborhood near where he made his great escape. It was a frightening way to discover a great truth: Dogs will be dogs. They love adventure anywhere, anytime and will chase it without considering dangers.
Why Dogs Run Away and Become a Lost Dog
Many dogs will slip around their owners’ legs to dart out a front door that’s only slightly ajar. They’ll nose open gates, dig holes under fences and tug leashes out of hands to be free. Then they may go, go, go and discover they are a lost dog and don’t know their way back home.
Here are some of the main reasons why dogs break away.
Thrill of Chasing Prey
Some dogs love to hunt. If they see a squirrel, rabbit or other prey — whether in front of your home or off-leash in a park — they’ll take any opportunity to give chase. That includes escape opportunities already mentioned as well as finding ways to climb or jump over fences.
Call of Nature
If a female dog isn’t spayed and goes into heat, both she and any nearby, male dogs that aren’t neutered and catch her scent may go wandering in search of each other. Spay/neuter procedures are an important way to keep dogs safe and not increase the dog shelter population.
Never leave dogs outdoors at celebratory times of year when fireworks displays are common. Dogs will search for places to hide if they are scared by loud noises or scary sights such as flashing lights and people in Halloween costumes. They may not find a hiding place in the backyard.
Boredom & Loneliness
Dogs need regular stimulation, including long walks and playtime with canine pals and the humans they love. If you are gone for long hours during the work week, make reliable pet-sitting arrangements.
Neglect of Basic Care
Dogs are extremely loyal to their owners. Yet neglect — such as repeatedly failing to fill the water bowl or not providing regular meals — can cause a dog to find a way out of house and yard for sustenance. A large water bowl only helps if you check it in the morning and at night. Pet-sitting help is crucial when you have to be gone at meal time.
How to Find Lost Dogs
To protect your dog against the dangers of becoming lost, it’s crucial to have him micro chipped and secure useful tags to his collar. The tags should list your contact information as well as your pet’s name.
A microchip is a device implanted under the skin at the back of your pet’s neck. It’s a glass tube the size of a grain of rice that contains a radio transmitter along and a minuscule circuit board containing your contact information via a registry. Stray animals like a lost dog often lose their collars. Animal shelter employees use scanning devices to check animals for microchips to contact you.
Calling Veterinarians & Shelters
People who find strays, particularly ones that are in injured or ill, may take them to veterinarians for help. So, it’s helpful to call local vets to ask about strays they have treated.
Instead of waiting for shelters to contact you, call all the local ones to make them aware of your missing pet. If your dog goes missing for many days, check photos on shelter websites.
Accessing Social Media
Seeking help via the traditional grapevine of people familiar with your dog is invaluable. If you are part of a neighborhood association, it may be possible to ask an association officer to send out an email about your missing dog.
To cast a broader net, use social media such as Nextdoor, a site that helps people network within and beyond their immediate neighborhood. Facebook also often has pages dedicated to lost animals.
Posting Signs in Public Places
It’s also still common to post “missing lost dog” flyers on telephone poles, in shop windows and on public notice boards. Remember to remove them when you find your pet.
Ways to Avoid Escapes
It’s essential to stay calm but act quickly in a runaway situation whether it involves a dog dashing out the door, leaping through window or disappearing without notice. And when you are reunited with your furry family member, it’s equally important to give love.
If you are with your dog when he gets loose, call or whistle to him from a location that won’t cause him to run across a roadway. If he doesn’t respond, walk toward him slowly but don’t chase. Chasing may make your dog think you are playing with him. He might keep on running. Dogs that fear punishment are equally likely to fail to respond.
But if a dog expects a pat or a treat when you call him, he is more likely to respond to your command. Vet Street suggests practice “recall ready” behavior.
Another loving owner action is to reduce disappearances by making sure your yard is well secured. Make sure gates are closed and that no objects, such as benches or barrels, are next to fences tempting dogs with a wandering spirit.
To avoid worrying about your dog chasing danger during your away from home, consider engaging a dog walker pet concierge service for your pet care needs. Professional pet sitters refresh a dog’s food and water. They give your pet outdoor breaks, treats, playtime and loving attention.
Barking Life Pet Concierge provides pet-sitting services an alternative to dog boarding in Katy, Richmond, Fulshear and on the west side of Houston. Please contact us for information about how we can help your dog stay safe and happy.