What to do if your dog goes missing

Tips and essential information for if your dog goes missing. 

When the worst happens and you realise your dog has run off or gone missing, follow these steps to improve your chances of locating them quickly.

It may sound obvious but, try to prevent them from going missing in the first instance. If you have a new rescue dog, test their recall in a secure area before allowing them off lead on a walk.

If you know your dog chases wildlife, don’t let them off lead in areas where you know they’ll be able to chase or opt for a long line secured to a harness. Take special care during firework season and when there are storms as your dog could be spooked and run away, a high percentage of dogs go missing during these times.


Always make sure your pet dog is wearing a tag with your contact details which is required by law. Details which need to be on the tag are your name, address and contact number. If you move, don’t forget to update the address for their microchip. If a dog escapes from the house without their collar, this will help trace them back to you sooner.

Never leave your dog tied up and unattended outside a shop even if you’re just popping in quickly. It takes seconds for an opportunist thief to take them.

Even if you’ve done everything above, dogs can still go missing for several reasons. If they’re missing in the home, make sure you check everywhere inside and in the garden. They might have found something tasty to steal and could be hiding somewhere.

When panic sets in we don’t always think about what to do first. We’ve created a list of steps which you can follow in the event of your dog going missing.

Each dog is different, so this is a general guide as it is impossible to predict individual dogs behaviours.

Stay where you last saw them and call their name for a few minutes.

Try to remain calm and be as upbeat as possible, if they think they might be in trouble, angry or distressed calling might prevent them coming back sooner.

If they don’t come back in a few minutes, head in the direction they went continuing to call them and move to higher ground if possible.

Head back in the direction you originally came from.

Most dogs will follow their scent back, they may have found a familiar route back to your vehicle if you’ve driven or taken themselves back home if they know the way back.

Call the following people to inform them your dog is missing.

            Local vets

            Dog warden

            The microchip database

            Local rescue centres

Inform the Dog Lost team

This is a free service which is promoted across Facebook and Twitter. They also send email alerts to local people who are registered to help search for missing dogs.

Check the National Pet Register

See if anyone has found your dog and placed a notice.

Put a post on social media with a picture

Check local community groups as someone may have found them and be searching for you online already.

Print and distribute posters created by the Dog Lost team.

This is included in their free service so take advantage of it saving you worrying about creating your own posters.

Hopefully as you progress through these steps your dog will be found safe and well. In the event your dog is not found, specialist dog locaters can assist you such as Animal Search UK or The Pet Detectives.

If you suspect your dog has been stolen, follow the same steps but, also inform the police.

If your dog has been missing for several hours, it’s worth leaving an item of clothing, a coat for example that smells of you at the spot where you last saw them. It’s possible they ran off and got confused but eventually retraced their steps, if that is the case the chances are, they’ll be found near to where they went missing.

Lastly, don’t give up hope, many dogs are found after being missing for long periods.


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