Eventually, most of us will stumble upon a wandering dog. In some cases, those dogs are strays, but it can be tough to tell the difference. Dogs escape their homes without a tag and sometimes get dirty as they try to get back home.
If you’ve discovered a dog without a nearby owner, you may wonder what to do next. Here are some steps to take to help reunite a lost dog with his owners.
There are some telltale signs a dog is lost, including showing signs of fear and confusion. Generally speaking, a dog that appears to be well cared for belongs to someone, but as mentioned above, a lost dog can have a fairly rough day. Before you whisk the dog off to your home, knock on some doors of homes nearby and ask if they know where the dog belongs.
Of course, getting your hands on a lost dog can be tough, especially if he’s scared. It’s important to approach very slowly, gradually earning the dog’s trust. If you have treats, use those to lure the dog over. Do your best to track the dog if he does run away. Even if you can’t catch him, knowing where you last saw him will help later.
Once you’re able to check the dog, the first thing to look for is a tag on the collar. Many owners keep contact information there. Getting the dog home could be a matter of pulling out your cell phone and making a phone call.
If you can’t pinpoint the owner, your next move should be to take the dog to the closest veterinarian or animal shelter to check for a microchip. This will usually take you directly to the owner. If it’s after hours, there’s likely a 24-hour emergency animal hospital nearby that can provide this service.
At any point after discovering the pet, one of the best things you can do is reach out through social media. Snap a picture of the pet and post in any local Facebook groups or in apps like Nextdoor. There are often even Facebook groups specific to lost pets in specific towns. A person with a lost dog may not even realize the pet has gotten out until seeing the post.
If you need to take the pet home, make sure you isolate it from other pets in the house, especially if the dog is skittish. Also check out the training tips on my blog. You may be able to find some useful information that will help you as you make your temporary houseguest comfortable.