Lost Dog specific advice
If your dog is picked up by animal control, they will use the information stored on the National Dog Database (the dog database administered by councils) to try to get your dog home. Therefore it is important that your contact information is up to date with the council.
The council is also required by law to hold your dog for 7 days and to list your dog as found.
Check your local councils website or visit the animal control shelter to check whether your dog is with them.
There are many reasons a dog may go missing – they may get spooked and run off in panic, they may be chased by other dogs, they may be injured, ill or trapped. In these situations your dog may be in your neighbourhood so it is important you get out and look for them.
Make sure you have a collar and leash with you as well as some tasty food with a crinkly packet (cheese or meat in a chip packet works well).
Check the most likely places your dog would go
Start by searching the most likely places your dog would go - if your super friendly dog is missing and their favourite park is just down the road, this is a great place to search. However, if your dog has a skittish temperament they are more likely to be found somewhere quiet and private, such as a nearby vacant lot.
Don’t assume your dog would be making a lot of noise if they are injured or trapped as this is not always the case. Make sure you have also very thoroughly searched your own property.
When you find them, keep calm and quiet
This may seem counterintuitive, but avoid calling for your dog, whistling, slapping your knees etc. Many missing dogs, even those who are normally confident and friendly, can be skittish and easily startled when they are missing. Try singing or talking to yourself instead – this lets the dog know you are there without frightening them.
Don’t be surprised if they don’t immediately run up to you, and take caution not to spook them. Avoid making eye contact, sudden movements and walking directly up to them. Trying to catch the dog often results in them running away.
Be patient and entice them to you with treats
Instead, now is the time for patience. Get out the treats and sit on the ground. Have a chat with yourself in a soft melodic voice, crinkling the packet and pretending to eat the food while dropping the food around you and gently tossing pieces a metre or two away from you. You should continue to ‘ignore’ the dog, and do not look at them directly. Once they have reached you, offer some food and give a gentle scratch then slowly attach the collar and lead to them.
Ask around - what was happening in the area on the day the dog went missing?
For example, if there was loud construction noise or an unfamiliar dog visiting, this increases the likelihood that the dog got spooked and ran away.
Have any neighbours or local business owners seen your dog?
It is not uncommon for people to find a dog and hold it in their backyard while they try to find the owner, rather than surrendering the dog to the local shelter or pound.
People who are driving by may see your dog and pick it up to try and keep it safe, meaning your dog is not necessarily within your local area anymore.
Talk to as many people as you can, especially within your local area and any areas where your dog has been sighted.