How Best to Lose a Running Dog

Stolen dogs are constantly in the news at the moment but losing a dog is not always because someone has taken him – he may simply have run off and become lost – or possibly stolen then dumped.  He may have got out of the yard, something may spook him on a walk or he may simply be on a chase and ignore all your shouts for him to come back. Remember Fenton?

Lost dog posterWhat is the best thing to do if our dog runs off? ‘No Dog About It’ blog explains: Don’t chase! It is our instinct to take chase, but that is the worst thing we can do. ‘The truth is it can be pretty hard to go against the instinct to chase a loose dog, but we really must learn to so, because when we chase we risk putting ourselves and the loose pet in danger’.

These are their suggestions:

Stop, drop and lie down. A dog will get curious and will often come back to see what you are doing.

Stop, drop, and curl into a ball

Run in the opposite direction –  Some dogs love a good chase.

Sit down with your back  or side to the dog and wait – Again, dogs are thrown off by this odd behavior and will become curious and approach.

Open a car door and ask the dog if she wants to go for a ride – Many a dog has been fooled into hopping into a car because they were invited to go for a ride.

They also consider why, when the dog is lost and sees you, he may not run back to you. To quote: ‘Many lost dogs tend to go into “survival mode”. They are frightened, unsure, hungry, tired (exhausted) and on constant alert. In many cases, they are fending for their lives. The longer they live in this state the less likely they are to recognize their owner on sight – and in fact, they are less likely to stick around and wait to see if the person approaching them is their owner’. They give examples and of how ecstatic the dog is when he finally recognises his people.

Here is something well worth a try if a dog has been lost out on a walk. To quote:

On day 12 of searching for my dog in a heavily wooded area, distraught and hopeless, I ran into a couple of hunters. They said they lost the occasional dog on a hunt but always got them back. What they told me has helped many dogs and families be reunited. I’ve given their advice out a few times in the last couple days, so I thought if reddit has any lost dogs out there, this could help:

The dog owner(s) should take an article of clothing that has been worn at least all day, the longer the better, so the lost dog can pick up the scent.

Bring the article of clothing to the location where the dog was last seen and leave it there. Also, if the dog has a crate & familiar toy, you can bring those too (unless location undesirable for crate). You might also want to leave a note requesting item(s) not to be moved.

Leave a bowl of water there too, as the dog probably hasn’t had access to any. Do not bring food as this could attract other animals that the dog might avoid.

Come back the next day, or check intermittently if possible. Hopefully the dog will be waiting there.

I was skeptical and doubted my dog would be able to detect an article of clothing if he didn’t hear me calling his name as loud as possible all day for 12 days. But I returned the next day and sure enough found him sitting there!

I hope this helps someone out there who’s missing a best friend. Good luck 🙂

For stories of dogs I have worked with whose owners are working on getting them to come back when called, please go to

About Theo Stewart

I am a dog Behaviourist C.C.B (Certified Canine Behaviourist) INTODogs). I have helped over 3000 dog owners over eighteen years. In addition to online consultations all over the world, I cover Beds, Herts, Cambs and Bucks for home visits. A 'Victoria Stilwell' Positively Dog Trainer (VSPDT) and a full member of the IMDT. Graduate ISCP, International School for Canine Practitioners. My main site:
This entry was posted in behaviour and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s