What to do If Your Agility Dog Gets Lost
No one has “losing my dog” on their bucket list, but it happens and you need to know how to prevent it as well as what to do if it should happen to you or someone you know. If you compete your odds of being separated from your dog increases and, unfortunately, if you own a dog that is on the “top dogs to nab” you need these tips to keep your dog safe or get a speedy return home. To read more about dog napping, check out our article here.
First and foremost is micro-chipping. Many shelters now micro-chip every dog that is adopted, but you must register your dog and update the information to reflect your current address, phone number and any medical information on your dog. This way if your dog ends up in a shelter they can contact you immediately and will know if your dog needs medical attention or any allergies they may have should the dog come in sick or injured.
Secondly is a high quality collar with a strong clip or buckle and an identification tag that has your dog’s name, your name and phone number and if possible, your address. This could save your dog from ending up in the shelter if a neighbor should find your dog. Most micro-chip companies also send you a tag which should be worn as well so anyone finding your dog will know they are chipped. A reflective collar could keep your dog safe as well as easier to find in the dark and although the GPS collars sound great, they tend to need to be charged frequently.
It goes without saying, but needs to be said. Be sure your dog is or you are working on solid basic commands such as come and stay. Door bolting is another way to lose your dog, so be sure to fix that if your dog is prone to it. If you are new to competing and are unsure about how your dog will react in an open setting, try to find enclosed trials to start with or training meets that will allow your dog to be leashed. There is nothing as heart wrenching as having your dog leave the ring and make their way to a busy street or parking lot.
In the event that your dog does become lost you need to have a game plan in place. First, call local shelters and veterinarian offices with a good description of your dog. If the shelters are large, go take a look personally as they are dealing with many dogs and may not remember a dog on just your description. If you can, visit them everyday until your dog is found. Secondly, if your dog is lost for more than a few hours it’s time to start advertising.
You should always have a current photo of your dog that is clear, in good light and shows any distinguishing markings on your dog. You will be using that photo to make posters and leverage social media for help. Keep posters clean, clear and straight to the point. Make your phone number large enough to be seen from 10 feet away so drivers can read it. List your name, phone, last place dog was seen and important info such as “needs medication,” “reward” or “dog is shy do not chase, call immediately.” Put posters around your neighborhood, at local pet stores, veterinarian offices and parks. Post your picture online with local shelters and dog groups. Be sure to update frequently as the information will get unnoticed as time goes by. In the same token, be sure to remove all posters, real and online, once your dog is located.
Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, but accidents do happen and if it does, it is not the time to be making a plan. So, be prepared so you can find your dog faster and with as little stress as possible.