Canine SOS! What to Do if Your Dog Gets Lost

Canine SOS! What to Do if Your Dog Gets Lost

TrackiPet explains what to do if your dog gets lost and how to prevent it from happening in the first place.
Happy Tails!—TrackiPet’s Guide to Planning the Perfect Dog-Friendly Vacation Reading Canine SOS! What to Do if Your Dog Gets Lost 8 minutes

Preparedness makes all the difference in a lost dog emergency.

We at TrackiPet hope you never have to experience the worry and stress of losing your beloved fur baby. That’s our whole raison d'etre

So, you could definitely call us the lost-dog scenario experts. Read on to find out what to do if your dog gets lost and how to prevent it from ever happening in the first place.

This article will cover:

  • Lost Dog Prevention
  • Effective Search Techniques
  • Tech Tools
  • Lost and Found Networks
  • What to Do if You Find a Lost Dog

Lost Dog Prevention

Dogs usually wander outside of their safety zone because of either curiosity or fear. It can happen to even the most well-trained, well-supervised pup. But you can reduce the chances of undesired roaming and increase the chances of a swift reunion if it occurs.


  • Give pooch plenty of exercise so that excess energy isn’t a motivating factor for flight.
  • Dedicate time and energy to training. A dog is less likely to run off and more likely to come back when called if they’re well-socialized, well-practiced in commands like “come” and “stay,” and know their name.
  • Know your dog’s triggers. Do they love to chase critters? Are they scared of fireworks? Use extra safety protocols when triggers are present.
  • When traveling by car, use dog-adapted seatbelts or crates and avoid opening the window enough for pooch to jump out.
  • Invest in a dog tracker!
Dog loss prevention


Lay the groundwork for a quick reunion if pup gets lost despite your best efforts:

  • Make sure pup is microchipped and has a thorough, accurate ID tag. Microchips and ID tags don’t help you locate a lost dog. But once found, they help the finder get in touch with you faster. Make sure your contact info is always up to date.
  • Join local social media groups and lost and found networks. Pay it forward by staying vigilant when a neighbor loses their beloved pet!


Dog trackers are the #1 way to prevent lost pet scenarios and to bring lost pets home faster. TrackiPet gives you peace of mind by alerting you instantly if pup’s outside of their safety zone and reducing your response time. TrackiPet’s state-of-the-art dog tracker lets you:

  • Customize geofences 
  • Receive alerts when pup leaves the geofence zone
  • Activate live tracking mode
  • Beep on command
  • Share pup’s location with trusted contacts and community members

Just remember to keep the long-lasting battery charged!

Effective Search Techniques

It’s easy to panic when you realize pooch is missing—we know. But the good news is that the vast majority of lost dogs are reunited with their families! So stay calm and maximize the efficiency of your lost dog search.

Right Away

Jump into action immediately when you realize pooch is missing! 

  1. Start close to the site of departure, moving steadily outward. Call their name and use food and familiar-smelling objects to attract them.
  2. Target your search. What are pooch’s favorite places? Are they high-energy and likely to run? Are they fearful and likely to hide? Your bond is your greatest asset.
  3. Call for help. Ask friends and family to come search with you. Ask people on the street if they’ve seen pooch. Use photos and share your contact info.

Within a Few Hours

If your initial search doesn’t yield results, here are the next steps:

  • Notify the authorities. Call local shelters, humane societies, groomers, animal control etc. to let them know your dog is lost. Share pup’s microchip number. 
  • Send out an alert via (a) lost and found network(s).
  • Distribute both paper and digital missing dog posters. Paper posters can be put up on telephone poles and notice boards in shops, cafés, libraries, and anywhere that has one. Digital notices can be posted on social media in neighborhood and pet-focused groups. Be sure to update often, as social media posts can get buried.
  • An effective missing dog poster includes:
    • A photo
    • A description with identifying features
    • Pup’s name 
    • Pup’s microchip number
    • Your contact details
    • Reward details
  • Search at night. A scared pup may hide during the day and come out at night when things feel calmer. Repeat your search with flashlights.
  • Beware of scams. If someone asks for the reward before returning pooch, be skeptical.
lost dog

Within a Week

We hope pup’s already been found by now—and they usually are. But if your search takes longer, don’t despair! Dogs missing for longer than a week are still often reunited with their families. Be persistent and proactive.

  • Renew your social media posts
  • Check in daily with shelters and authorities
  • Keep up the physical search
  • Consider hiring a professional
  • Take out ads in the newspaper or on the radio

Tech Tools

Two revolutionary technologies have completely transformed the experience of losing a dog: microchips and dog trackers. Let’s take a closer look at these two pet-parent lifesavers.


A microchip is a permanent, tamper-proof identification device for pets. It is about the size of a grain of rice and is implanted with an injection by the vet. Side effects are very rare and chips require no maintenance.

Once placed, you must register your device with the manufacturer. You can register your contact information and sometimes your dog’s medical history. 

The microchip is read by a scanner. The scanner will show the manufacturer and the microchip number. The number can then be searched in the manufacturer’s registry, which will share your contact info. 

There are two types of microchips: those with ISO standard frequency and those without. Scanners can typically read one or both (universal). Choosing an ISO standard microchip improves your chances that it can be read abroad.

A microchip does not replace a regular ID tag, because a regular ID tag can be read by anyone, no scanner needed. But it can’t fall off or be removed like an ID tag can.

Microchips make dog theft nearly impossible and reduce reunion time when a lost dog is found.

dog chip


A dog tracker, at a minimum, allows you to view your dog’s location, which obviously makes your lost dog search A LOT more efficient. 

TrackiPet gives you additional peace of mind by allowing you to set geofences, create alerts when pup’s out of bounds, activate real-time tracking, and share pup’s location with trusted and local contacts. 365 days of location history also give you insight into pup’s behavior.

A dog tracker is the best way to make sure pup doesn’t get lost! At least not for long.

Lost and Found Networks

As you know, the internet is full of good Samaritans who just love to help reunite fur babies with their families. Let’s talk about some of the formal and informal networks available to help.

Lost and Found Networks

Searchable lost and found pet databases often include internal and external alert systems. Here are some of our favorites:

Remember, these resources are limited to one country. TrackiPet’s community, however, is global!

Social Media

Although they aren’t specifically designed for pet rescue, your neighborhood’s local Nextdoor, Facebook, and Instagram groups are great places to post missing or found pet notifications. They ensure that the people with eyes on the ground know to keep them open.

Lost dog


What to Do if You Find a Lost Dog

If you see a stray, you might have the opportunity to be a hero! Here’s what you do:

  1. Approach with care and lure pup in with gentle encouragement or treats. No loud noises or abrupt movements. 
  2. Offer pup clean water. You don’t know how long they’ve gone without drinking.
  3. Look for an ID tag. If the owner’s contact info is available, call without delay.
  4. Check social media and lost and found databases. If you find a notification with the owner’s information, pick up the phone! You can also post a found dog notice.
  5. Take pup to a local authority—shelter, vet, or animal control. They can scan for a microchip. If the owner can’t be located immediately, make a plan for care. The authority may be able to hang onto the dog until the owner is found or they might ask you to!

Congratulations! You just gave pup and their family the best gift of all.

So, if pooch goes missing, keep calm!

Now know what to do if your dog gets lost. Remember, preparation, optimism, and persistence are the keys to giving any lost dog emergency a happy ending.