What to do when your dog runs away? A pet mom shares her experience, offers tips

Published on Nov 17, 2022 05:38 PM IST

Here are some important steps you must follow when you realise you have lost your dog.

A regular morning walk turned into my biggest nightmare when the leash of my youngest dog, Toto broke and she managed to escape: Vidhi Malla (Pic for representational purpose)(Pixabay)
A regular morning walk turned into my biggest nightmare when the leash of my youngest dog, Toto broke and she managed to escape: Vidhi Malla (Pic for representational purpose)(Pixabay)
By, New Delhi

Boredom, fear, excitement - any of these factors could lead to this heart-breaking moment when you realise your furry friend has vanished from your sight and cannot be found. It could be a broken leash or their heroic act of jumping from the fence out of your house to be on their own. In any case, it's a stressful time for pet parents who just don't know what to do when they either see their pets running with all their might or just find them missing one fine morning. It's important to keep calm and think with clear head if anything like this ever happens with you. (Also read: 6 common winter illnesses in pets and how to avoid them)

"December 2020, was perhaps the worst day of my life. A regular morning walk turned into my biggest nightmare when the leash of my youngest dog, Toto broke and she managed to escape. Toto, who has lived most of her young life in the shelter is startled by anything, so we knew that we had to find her else we could lose her forever," says Vidhi Malla, Dog mom, rescuer and an entrepreneur in the pet care space sharing her own experience with HT Digital.

In most cases pet parents are clueless as to how to find their precious pets in situations like these. We all know that the streets are a tough place for a lost dog and they often get confused and disoriented because they are unable to relate to the street life. But the question is what should pet parents do? How much time do they have, and what might they do to increase their chance of finding their pet?

Vidhi Malla shared few simple steps that may help you get back your pooch.

1. 24-hours rule: The first 24 hours are critical in any situation, including a missing dog. The sooner you find your canine child, the better it is for you and him. Dogs can cover a large distance in a short time so the longer time you take to find your dog, the tougher your job will become. Just to give you an idea, our Toto covered around 5 km in an hour or so. She kept running straight, and unlike what is generally assumed, she crossed 2 major crossings.

2. Set up a task force: You may love to work alone, but finding your dog alone can be a near impossible task. Get more friends, family members or neighbours involved in the search. Do ensure that you have a recent picture of your dog with you when you go out looking for him. Share the image with all those who are looking for your dog. Tell your area guards and workers about your lost dog. It also helps tremendously to do night vigils as run-away dogs might be scared of dogs in a certain area and keep themselves hidden during the day.

3. Advertise: It helps to advertise about your dog using posters at public locations. The posters should carry an image of your dog along with your number, details of where the dog was last seen and a possible reward. Put these posters on poles near your home or the last place the dog was seen, at shops, shelters and vet locations. Also, using social platforms can come in extremely handy. Please do not wait to put these posters. If you are unable to find your dog in the first 2 or 3 hours, get the posters and spread the word. Make sure you get the posters in English and the local language too.

4. Be available: Yes, you need to be out looking for your dog. Yes, it may be a 24x7 watch; but, do make sure there is someone manning the phone all the time. There needs to be family or friends at home to pick urgent calls or if someone decides to drop your child home. Also, do make sure you share your number is available to all looking for the dog.

5. Bait helps during search: Dogs have been found because they have realised the honk of their owner’s car or the whistle of their pet parent. Is there something your dog relates to? Like the squeak of a particular toy or a certain style of whistling? If yes, make sure you carry those things with you when you go out looking for your dog.

6. Leave your scent behind: Remember, dogs sniff everything and everyone. Leaving a few cuttings of your clothing around poles and street corners may help your dog know that you were there.

7. Check local NGOs and Municipal corporation dog pounds: One of the hardest things is being uncertain. When we lost our dog, one of the friends suggested we also check the local MCD in case they have found a dead dog. This might be cruel and hard for one as a pet owner, but one needs to understand that there could be a chance that the pet dog could be hit when running. Moreover, in my case, it just gave me hope that my dog was alive and surviving. Also, check out your local NGOs and leave your details, along with a few posters with them.

8. Never give up hope: Keep going to local NGOs and shelters in order to look for your canine child. There are many stories where dogs have been united with owners after long periods. Being calm, hopeful and patient is the best way to deal with the given situation. We found our Toto after 3 days of gruelling search. She was found in Faridabad.

9. Bonus: One of the most important learning that I have got from my experience is to ensure I am prepared. All my dogs now walk on an H harness and have name tags which contains my details. It would be worthwhile to read and look for GPS trackers in case your pets go for walks with walkers or people other than you, so that you know how much exercise they are actually getting, and can track their live position if there is a need.

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