What Should You Do If You Lose Your Dog?

Written by: Dr. Katy Nelson

May 2, 2019

***Losing a dog can be a trying experience, for dog and dog owner alike. So what should you do if you lose your dog and find them again? Spoil them with a BarkBox, that’s what! Every month BarkBox delivers 2 original toys, designed in-house, 2 full bags of all-natural treats, and a chew. Sign up here and receive a free extra toy every month. <– This deal is worth up to $120 in value if you sign up for a 12-month subscription! 🙂

Losing your pup can be really scary, but the following steps can help you stay sane and increase your odds of finding your pup. Take a moment to read through everything and then make a plan to get your pup home.

1. Don’t panic.

The more organized you are the higher your chances of finding your pup. And remaining calm will make you more focused and organized.

2. Make a plan!

Great Dane Puppy Funny Face

You have a much better chance of finding your pup if you have a plan. Take a moment to collect yourself and list out the steps you’ll take, people to call for help, and neighbors to contact.

3. Check the microchip.

Microchipping a dog

If your dog is microchipped, call the microchip company and inform them your pet is missing.

4. Triple-check your home.

Yorkie Yorkshire Terrier In Pile of BarkBox Toys

If you have a smaller dog, thoroughly check your home and (if you have it) yard area for any place your pup might be trapped. Remember that your dog might be scared or hurt and not able to respond to your calls.

5. Search the neighborhood.

Microchip your dog

If you have established that your pup isn’t anywhere in your home expand your search. If you are alone you might want to employ a spiral search pattern, circling out from your home, or if you live in a city, you can employ a line search pattern by yourself. If you have friends helping consider a grid search pattern or a quadrant pattern.

6. Search with treats.

Dog Eating BarkShop Dog Treats

Carry treats with you in case you need to coax or soothe a scared pet, particularly BarkShop treats. Remember that your pet may act differently, so be cautious.

7. Alert your neighbors.

Dog New york neighborhood dog treats barkshop

Knock on all your neighbors doors to find out if any of them have picked up your pup and to alert them that they’re missing.

8. Design and distribute posters.

Make simple posters/flyers to put up around your area and to handout to neighbors and include the following:

Missing Dog Flyer

LOST DOG, Dog’s Name, Last Seen, A photo, preferably in color, Dog breed if specific enough to be useful, Collar and license info, Your name, phone number, email address, REWARD (but do not specify amount).

Pet FBI has created a flyer template here.

9. Call animal control and shelters.

Boxer in Animal Shelter

Contact all your local animal control centers and animal shelters right away. Keep checking back in with them over the next few days, and go into nearby shelters personally. You’ll have a better chance of people remembering you and your lost dog if they’ve met you.

10. Reach out to local police.

Dog eating hot dog

Contact your local police and sheriff departments to ask if they have found any dogs matching your pup’s description.

11. Check out breed specific shelters/rescues.

Pit Bull Puppy Cuddling Human

Many people forget to check their local breed specific shelters, but they can be a great resource to look for your pup and to post flyers.

12. Put up notices around town.

Yorkie Dog In The CIty

Put notices in your local pet stores, doggy daycares, and groomers. Even at your local coffee shop.

13. Call local vets.

Dog Boogers

People who find pets don’t always know what to do with them, so some might bring them to a nearby vet or emergency vet clinic.

14. Utilize social media.

Dog With Dog Ness Monster Dog Toy BarkShop

Post your lost dog poster on your social media accounts to get the word out quickly. Facebook and Instagram allow you to post your pup’s pic and spread the word far and wide to people you know and dog lovers everywhere.

15. Look on Craigslist and check lost pets websites/apps.

FindShadow lost pets app

Use Craigslist to post a Lost Dog ad and refresh your ad every day so it goes back to the top of the list. Also search CL for your pet.

Also post on these apps and websites: FindShadow, Pet FBI; Center for Lost Pets; Fido Finder; Lost Pet USA

16. Utilize local media.

Bark Post Dog Toy

If you have a local paper place a Lost Dog ad.

17. Expand your search.

Dog in cornfield

If your dog is still gone after three days expand your shelter visits to ones further from your home – your dog may have walked further before being picked up.

18. Beware of scams.

Don’t wire anyone money. If someone has really found your pup they’ll be happy to take the money in person when they give you your dog. Many people won’t take money at all, but the offer increases your chances.

19. Look to local organizations for help.

Terrier Dog with BarkBox Orbee Globe Fetch Ball

Check for area-specific dog finding organizations like FindShadow and Helping Lost Pets in Georgia.

20. Don’t give up!

Keep expanding your search as the days pass. Many people who find dogs don’t know what to do with them, so your pup could be at a nice person’s home for days before they are surrendered to a shelter or animal control is called. Just rest assured that your pup is looking for you as hard as you’re looking for them!

Looking For More Posts Like This?

Why Should You Microchip Your Dog?

How To Make Sure Your Dog’s Microchip Works

How Do Dogs Know The Way Home?

BarkBox: Is It Worth It? (YES)

Written by: Dr. Katy Nelson

May 2, 2019

Toothbrush-free dental care for dogs.

Fresher breath in 1–2 weeks.



A themed collection of BARK-designed toys, treats, and chews.


A themed collection of BARK-designed toys, treats, and chews.