Lost Dog Tips

Your dog is missing, it’s a family emergency, call in the favors you have stock piled. Accept help with flyers, making contacts with nearby vets , notifying delivery people & mail delivery person, bus drivers, trash guys . Do not allow people to search , ie just wander off into the woods looking.

Extra car traffic does not help.



File a lost report with the nearest humane society. Then all the surrounding counties. Ask friends who know your pet to visit each of these every two days. Mistakes can happen with paperwork.

Put out smelly food (skip the dry stuff) such as:

  • Roasted chicken (AC&T fried chicken works great!)
  • Canned dog/cat food-the smellier the better
  • Tuna fish

Make a long chum trail, use dry food during freezing weather. A trail of chum soup can be used. This help leads the animal to where you have food set up.

  • What is Chum soup? Mixture of broth (we use chicken) water, wet cat/dog food. We also add sardines sometimes. Again, the smellier the better.


  • Put a piece of dirty laundry out on the porch.
  • Leave a house or garage door open. Leave all yard gates open. Leave lights on at night.
  • Do not use flashlights when out searching.


  • Only owners should go to sightings
  • Carry a slip lead with you. Not in your hands, but rather in a pocket or waist band
  • Place a scent article, a toy, a blanket, whatever you have that only the missing pet has touched into a sealed trash bag. In case you need a scent tracking dog.
  • Owners don’t blaze trails, don’t sneak about . Speak in a quiet tone. Talk while you walk.
  • Bring treats , Vienna sausages work great!
  • Bring your pet’s favorite toy.
  • Bring your children along
  • The only people that need to know if your pet is chipped is YOU. Vets, humane societies , animal control and any real rescue will check for chip. I always look hard at folks that ask” is she chipped?” Because why would anyone except the one holding your pet need to know ?
  • Do not post exact locations of sightings. Good Samaritans will think they are helping but will come and chase your pet. Keep in mind, approaching is chasing. Instead have friends put out flyers near sightings. That will alert and educate that area. Just post vague area, Smithsburg, for example instead of Main St. and Antietam St.


****Flyers bring more pets home than any other method. Flyers alert the right people. Flyers bring sightings.

What should I put on the flyer?

Three words, Keep it simple!  

Include the word “MISSING” bold and red at the top, a clear picture or two, the town, date went missing. Also include the words , PLEASE DO NOT APPROACH, and your phone number. We highly recommend that you don’t put dog’s name on flyers. ****

  1. Small pet lost: Tiny dogs aren’t running 30 miles. Owner: look under everything. Out buildings, porches, old cars, farm equipment, a hole in a wall. A small dog can get collar hooked on anything and be stuck there.
  2. Large dogs: Start at the place of loss and put out flyers . The first days cover a couple mile circle. Keep expanding until you get sightings. I have been involved in 30 mile and heard stories of 50 mile searches
  3. If you have any reason that you think your dog is stolen. Call the police. Get them to investigate. Demand it. Get a stolen report filed. That stolen report will open doors everywhere.


This is *THE* most misunderstood and unbelieved part of dog recovery. We hear this so often, “My dog will come when called”. We have countless cases of dogs being ten feet from the owner and then bolting. It’s real.


Let the dog come to you. If you see your dog, don’t make direct eye contact, stop, kneel, pull out the treat bag, crumple it, and make yummy sounds. Lie down and whimper with AVOIDING DIRECT EYE CONTACT. Whatever you do, stop right there and don’t push the dog. Chances are we can trap your dog right there and bring this to a safe end.



  1. Dogs are so often attracted to other dogs. Give every dog walker a flyer. If you hear dogs barking, go there. I have often got sightings because a lost dog is running the fence around other dogs. We’ve had one our team members, Diana, out walking her dogs and a dog will come right up to her.
  2. Don’t blaze trails, don’t sneak, no flashlights, don’t let strangers form search parties (except under true experienced guidance).
  3. Use the “let the dog come to me “method.
  4. If you think you have come in direct contact with the missing dog and you are not the owner, drop a couple treats, turn slowly and leave. Again, don’t make direct eye contact. From a distance you can look back and see if the dog is eating the treat. Advise owner of the location.
  5. We make flyers at no charge, loan traps and cameras when available. We help when needed.
  6. Able bodied owners need to do food stations, set and refill traps, your scent is extremely important.


Credited: Russell Neff

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