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The PetsitUSA Blog

    The PetsitUSA Blog

    How to Save a Lost Dog

    Posted: 23 Jan 2012 07:00 AM PST

    How to help a lost dogI rescued yet another lost dog here in Houston. In 2011, I rescued almost 20 dogs who had escaped from their homes. I can always tell the difference between and abandoned dog and a lost dog (although, don’t get me wrong, an abandoned dog does feel extremely lost). The dogs look well-fed, taken care of, have a collar on, and a look on their face that is a mixture of, "Oh wow, I can’t believe I’m out in the world! This is so exciting!", and "Oh wow, I can’t believe I’m out in the world! What am I doing out here??"

    As I was walking the dog back to his house, I thought about the steps I took in helping him, and thought I’d share. There are seven.

    Step one: If you’re walking a dog, bring the dog home. This may mean that there is a chance you won’t see the the lost dog when you come back, but it’s that important to be ‘dog-less’; too many things can happen. Especially since one dog is leashed, and the other is not.
    (Leash aggression is very common when two dogs interact and they aren’t on the same page.)

    Step two: Observe the dog’s manner. If the dog’s tail is wagging, that is a good sign! If the dog’s tail is in between his legs, ears down, and teeth bared, do NOT approach the dog.

    Step three: Once you have observed the dog is generally happy, approach the dog, but just a little. (I.E. get out of your car, or get close enough so the dog knows you are there.) Don’t go any further than that. I like to keep several feet distance from me and the dog.

    Step four: Hold one hand next to your side, palm facing dog, and the other hand out, palm up with a couple doggie treats, and call to the dog. Nine times out of ten, the dog will come to you and eat up the biscuits. (I’m always wearing my dog walking pack which holds dog biscuits, spare leash, pepper spray, bio bags, tweezers, cell phone, etc. If you don’t have a dog walking pack, I highly suggest putting one together!)

    Step five: Feed more biscuits, and pet the dog, reassure him that it’s going to be okay; dogs pick up on the calm, reassuring voice. It’s important.

    Step six: When the dog is comfortable, leash him. I take out my spare leash and make a big loop with it- you can also make a lasso from a standard leash by pulling the leash through the handle. This is the safest way to leash a strange dog- by pulling the ‘lasso’ over the dog’s head.

    Step seven: Once the leash is on, feed the dog another biscuit with one hand, and with the other, read the number on the collar and call his owner.

    In my experiences, the owner has most always been home. The couple of times the owner wasn’t home, they left work to meet me. I’ve encountered many grateful owners who had no idea their dog had escaped…the dog either found a way out of the yard, or a nanny or housekeeper accidentally left a door opened.

    Just remember to trust your gut! If you have any fear, if the dog doesn’t seem 100% relaxed and happy, then do NOT attempt to make any kind of contact. And never try to save a dog while you have a dog with you.

    So, go put a dog walking pack together if you don’t have one already, get a pet first aid kit for your car, and always have your cell phone charged. You never know when a poor pup is out there lost in the world!