Lost Dog - Things You Can Do

If your dog gets lost or is stolen, there are some things you can do. Firstly, something every dog owner should do is to make sure their pet is microchipped and always wears an identity tag on their collar. These are both legal requirements. The tag should be clear to read and should include all the details required by UK law. For more information please scroll down this page to our Dog Identification and the UK Law section.


Lost or Stolen Dog - What To Do and Prevention Advice

If your dog goes missing, walk around your local area calling your pet's name. They might not have gone far. Start your search by visiting places that you think your dog likes or might be attracted to. If they are food orientated or it is nearing dinner time, is there a local fast food place nearby that they might have followed their nose to. Start looking as soon as they go missing so that you have a chance of finding them while they are still in the local area. You will waste valuable time if you wait for them to return.

Covering Costs

Check your pet's insurance policy. Many policies offer various types of 'pet reuniting' services in the event of loss or theft and many offer a certain amount towards covering the cost of rewards and advertising as well.

Posters and Flyers

Let as many people as possible know that your dog has gone missing. Put up posters and pop flyers through doors. You are allowed to put posters on lamp posts. If you can, put them into a plastic wallet or covering so that they are partly waterproof. Other good places for your notices are shop windows, supermarket notice boards and local veterinary surgeries.

On your posters and flyers, give clear and detailed information regarding your pet's coat colour and patterns, distinguishing marks or features, your pet's size and age. A photo showing a good likeness would be very useful, taken from various angles if possible so that all markings and features can be clearly seen and identified. As well as a description of your pet, include your contact phone number on your notices. If no one is home manning the phone while you are out searching, give your mobile phone number for contact purposes.

When putting flyers through doors, it is a good idea to also ask people to check their sheds, garages and other out-buildings or places where a weary stray might hide or find shelter. You could also try asking your local radio station if they will read out your notice on air. And of course, contact all the local animal shelters and veterinary surgeries.

Lost Dog Services

If you weren't already a member of a reunited scheme when your pet went missing, some may still allow you to join. And don't forget the online websites, many of whom will list your lost or stolen dog for free. Also visit and post messages to as many online dog chat rooms, forums and message boards as you can. Online communities and websites where you can chat and swap information with other people who are willing to help and/or who have been through a similar situation will help you to reach a wide audience and will also help you to stay positive.

One of the best online lost dog schemes to join is doglost.co.uk. Dog Lost have a large database of lost and found dogs with helpers all over the UK. Also contact your local dog warden. Dog Wardens keep a register of all found dogs they have picked up.

Most importantly of all, do not give up. Be persistent and stay in people's minds by updating your posters, flyers and online messages. And don't be afraid to call the vets and animal shelters regularly to let them know that your dog is still missing.

Try not to lose faith in your search. There are many cases of missing dogs being reunited with their family, sometimes after long periods of time or under unusual circumstances, especially if your dog is microchipped (which is now a legal requirement). Being reunited with your lost dog can and does happen.


Dogs can get lost or stolen despite our best efforts, but there are some things you can do to help reduce the risk. Don't let your dog off the lead unless their recall is reliable and don't let your dog wander out of your sight. Don't allow your dog to wander about alone, even in their own garden, unless it is totally intruder proof.

Never take your dog shopping with you or to other places they may be denied access. Dogs should not be left unattended in cars or outside shops or tied to lamp posts. You might only be inside the shop for 2 minutes but that is all it takes for someone to pass by, untie your dog and take them.

What to do if you've lost or found a dog

Dogs Trust have published a useful free pdf called What to do if you've lost or found a dog with advice including who to contact if your dog is lost and what to do if you find a dog.

By Jenny Prevel

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