How to help missing dogs find their way home
If you’re an animal lover who has ever seen a stray dog walking around alone, you’ve probably felt the pang of worry in your chest when calling the lone animal or trying to approach the dog sends the dog running in the other direction.
Thousands of pets go missing every year and these animals do not necessarily run away because they were in abusive situations. Factors including genetics and events occurring during the dog’s puppy years could all contribute to a more skittish animal. If you would like to help reunite missing dogs with their families, we have a few tips for how to best approach a nervous animal.
Learn to read the signs of missing dog behavior
We’ve learned a lot from Kat Albrect at the Missing Pet Partnership who specializes in how to approach panicked animals (check out her video on YouTube or her website). A dog who will not come when called is not necessarily a stray without a family. It’s important to always attempt to find the owners of a missing dog before attempting to place the animal in a new home. Here are some of Albrect’s recommendations for catching missing dogs.
Don’t try to “catch” nervous, missing dogs
Your natural impulse is to crouch a little, walk towards a dog, and call out as you might with your own dog saying “Come here, doggie! It’s okay!” Now, think about your stance for a moment. Slight hunch, directly looking at the dog, advancing slowly… you’ve just taken the gait of a predator; at least, that’s how it seems in the mind of a missing dog and he or she is more likely to bolt than come to you. Never shout at a nervous dog.
Get low and speak the language of missing dogs
Instead of stalking a lost dog, get lower to the ground. Kneel down and try to keep the dog in your periphery without looking him or her straight in the eye. Think about what dogs do when they are content. You can try rolling on your back, licking your lips, yawning, or bowing your head. These behaviors indicate to the missing dog you are not a threat and are referred to as “calming signals.” You can learn more about calming signals from the book On Talking Terms with Dogs: Calming Signals by TuridRugaas.
Having food and a crinkly bag to entice a missing dog to approach you
Keep a crinkly bag in the car or in your pocket. Most pets will hear the sound of a bag and associate it with food or treats. Kneel down to ground level and pretend you are eating the food while dropping some sizable crumbs down on the ground. Missing dogs could certainly be enticed to eat, depending on how long they’ve been away from home, and may come to you more willingly Since they assume you are eating, they interpret this behavior to mean your own guard is down and you are safe to approach.
Help Paw Technologies Bring More Missing Dogs Home
Paw Technologies helps owners create a printable and shareable flyer to notify their communities of a missing pet. Paw Technologies takes the flyer and sends the information out to animals shelters, veterinary clinics, and animal rescue organizations. We also host pages on Instagram and Facebook with the details for every alert we receive about a lost pet. If you follow us on social media, you will have access to important information about missing pets to include the pet name, how the owner’s can be reached, and any important, known information about the animal’s behavior to guide your approach when spotting their pet. We keep our pages updated so you’ll know if a pet has been found. You can help us bring best friends back together by checking our alerts and recommending our instant notification services to anyone who doesn’t have a plan for the hopefully unlikely event his or her dog goes missing.