What to Do When You Find a Lost Dog? (2024 Guide)

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Every dog owner is concerned about losing their furry friend. So, you undoubtedly have a strategy in place to find your dog if it ever gets lost. 

But the question is, what should you be doing if you discover someone else’s dog?

find a lost dog

Generally, you’ll want to return the dog to its owner as quickly as possible. But how do you be sure the animal returns to its original owners?

Questions like ways to contact the dog owner and keeping the dog contained till the dog owner arrives and the authorities you connect with for unidentified dogs pop up in your head.

But solving these questions will help you successfully reunite the dog with the owner.

So, without holding you back from getting the dog and its owner together, let us dive into the details. 

What To Do When You Find A Lost Dog?

Sometimes when you are outdoors, you come across a lost and scared dog. You feel like taking the animal home and caring for it until you find its owner.

In this kind of situation, you can simply follow the steps shared below to help you send the dog back home to his parent/owner.

1. Keep the lost dog with you until the owner arrives

If possible, try to control any stray dogs or cats you come across as lost. Always make gradual, cautious approaches to stray animals and use a soft, soothing voice.

Keep the lost dog

Food can also be used to entice an anxious dog to come close to you. Avoid scaring or chasing the dog away while there is traffic. Doing so occasionally causes the dog to flee into the road and get hurt.

Dogs should ideally be kept on a leash or confined to a fenced-in area. 

In an emergency, a buckle or rope item can serve as a slip lead, but consider that these objects should not be used regularly to restrain a dog.

2. Call the authorities 

Never attempt to capture an aggressive dog because you put yourself in danger. Call your neighborhood animal services or police department as soon as you can if you can’t easily reach the dog or if it runs away.

Tell the coordinator the precise street address of the location where the dog was last spotted.

3. Spread the word online 

Post about the lost pet on platforms like Reddit, Craigslist, and neighborhood social media groups. 

Spread the word online 

Share a picture of the animal and include as much information as you can about how it was discovered. Get a social media post ready to share on social media platforms.

4. Check for ID (smart collar or a microchip)

A collar ID tag with the owner’s contact information is ideal for a missing dog. Call every number on the list, and if no one picks up, leave a message.

Check for ID (smart collar or a microchip)

Has the dog checked for a microchip if the ID tags are missing or the codes are no longer functional? Any veterinary office or animal shelter will have a scanner.

The procedure is simple, and the chip’s number connects to a service for pet registration. Some services only offer the owner’s information, while some other services put you in touch with the owner.

5. Contact the dog parent/owner & alert them.

What possibilities are there for getting in touch with the owner of the dog if you’ve already phoned every number connected to the Identification number and microchip?

Contact the dog parent

First, make proper use of technological facilities.

Look for regional websites that include a section for lost and found animals. Browse pet-missing ads and add your own message. 

You may also inform folks that you’ve located a lost dog using Facebook or other social media platforms.

After that, use old remedies like spreading flyers with a found sign and your address. If the dog owner is looking and stumbles upon this flyer, he may end up at your doorstep.

You can scan the microchip implanted in the lost dog’s body to get the dog owner’s contact information.

6. Bring unidentified dogs to the animal shelter.

If the animal is missing its ID label or microchip, an animal shelter is where the dog will have the best chance of finding its owner.

The only apparent location wherein dog parents are likely to check for missing dogs is the shelter.

Bring unidentified dogs to the animal shelter

Although the majority of shelters have a database of ‘discovered’ claims, these reports are frequently incorrect since the one describing the animal was subjective.

Many people are unfamiliar with breeds and coat colors and may not be able to describe the dog they have found accurately. 

If such a shelter has technology that can do this, posting a photo of the recovered animal in the database on the shelter’s computer would be a respectable option. 

As a result, you could handle the lost pet while still enabling the owner to locate it in the shelter using a picture.

How to Recognize a lost dog?

You can recognize a lost dog by his collar and dog tag. Also, if a dog is in good shape but is scared and anxious, that might signify a lost dog.

Lastly, it’s crucial to stop assuming the rescued dog is wild or abandoned based on its location, appearance, or behavior. 

Because you don’t know how many days the dog is lost and wandering on the streets. The dog may look like a stray one because of his untidy appearance.

Authorities to call if you find a lost dog

The quickest approach is to ensure that you are letting the nearby animal shelters and pet agencies know about finding a lost dog.

Animal shelters

Call your neighborhood’s animal services, animal control, or non-emergency police hotline. 

They can check for a microchip to assist you in reuniting with your dog and will be able to tell you if a dog was already reported lost.

Lost and found agencies

You can post the rescued pet listing you made on our website to a local Social media page for missing and recovered dogs or a social media platform.  

You may assist in forging a genuine relationship with anxious parents who might post pictures of their lost pet.

Related read:

Final Thoughts!

Finding a lost dog might make you happy, but it is always essential to report the dog immediately and try to find his owner. The dog’s owner and the dog may be missing each other and are waiting to reunite again.

You can call animal shelters and lost & found agencies to let them know about finding a lost dog. Plus, taking quick actions like checking the dog’s ID or microchip and sharing the dog’s photos on social media is necessary.

This way, you can help the lost dog reach his home safely and reunite the dog and owner no sooner than later.

I hope I have helped you understand what you can do when you find a lost dog. If yes, then leave feedback in the comment section below. 


Do dogs usually get scared when they are lost?

Many dogs, even those that are not typically nervous at home, become frightened when they go missing.

Do dogs realize when they go missing?

Dogs usually don’t even realize they’ve gotten lost until they cross miles away from home.

How much distance do dogs cover when they are lost?

About 12 miles to 15 miles in a day, a dog can travel when they are lost.

What treats can you give to a lost dog if you find one?

You can offer the food items listed below to the lost dog you’ve found:
1. Carrot chops
2. A bowl of Rice
3. Dairy products like yogurt, milk, and  cheese in small portions
4. White meat like pork, chicken, and turkey.

Is it safe to feed a dog bread in meals?

It is absolutely safe for dogs to have bread in their meals as much as humans.


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