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Blog the Change: Prevent your dog from getting lost


Blog the Change

Today, July 15th, is Blog the Change day. This is the day when pet bloggers write about an issue important to them and help to promote change.

I am extremely passionate about educating people on how to find their lost dog. In the past, I have written about what to do when your dog goes missing, what to do if you have a lost dog and they are too afraid to come to you and how to help someone who has lost their dog. Today, I would like to write about the ways you can prevent your dog from getting lost in the first place.

When Cupcake went missing in late 2011, I was haunted by all the things I did wrong that led to her becoming lost – I didn’t have her collar properly fitted, I took her into a new store she had never been in before, and instead of remaining calm, I panicked when Daisy became entangled with the store’s outdoor sign, which caused all the dogs to panic and run.

There is so much more I know now than I did back then. I hope by sharing these tips you don’t ever have to face losing a dog. Please share with your family and friends.  One less lost dog is worth preventing.

Ways you can keep your dog safe and prevent them from being lost:

  • Buy your dog a martingale collar and make sure it is fitted properly. These type of collars are especially great for sight hounds (because their necks are often bigger than their heads), but they can be used on any dog.
  • If you have a particularly shy or nervous dog, double-leash them so you have a fail-safe if one of them fails. (Double-leashing usually means you have one leash attached to the dog’s collar and one to their harness.)
  • Walk your dog using a well-fitted harness, and when you do walk them, make sure to loop the leash over your wrist so as to prevent the dog from bolting and pulling the leash out of your hands.
  • Make sure your dog is secure before opening the door to your house to let someone inside. This can be anything from putting them on a leash before opening the door to putting them behind a baby gate or in another room. A sit-stay is always good, but it is not foolproof.
  • Place locks on the gates to your yard. This may seem like a silly thing to do, but there are several reasons to do so. I have seen many a dog lost because a storm blew open someone’s gate, a child running in or out of the gate forgot to latch it or a contractor was working on the home and left the gate open. Placing a lock on the gate ensures no one gets in or out without you knowing about it.
  • Several times throughout the year, check your fence line to make sure there are no gaps or holes that you may have missed. Block all holes and gaps to prevent your dog from escaping the yard. Also, make sure that there are no chairs or tables near your fence so your dog cannot use it as a perch from which to jump it.
  • Don’t take your dog to the local 4th of July fireworks display. Keep them at home where you know they are safe. (In Minnesota, we had nearly 100 dogs go missing because they were frightened by fireworks.)
  • If someone is caring for your dog, make sure they know how to enter and leave your home without letting the dog out or consider blocking off the doorway so your dog cannot escape unexpectedly.
  • Don’t take a newly adopted dog to a new location like a dog park or pet store. Many newly adopted dogs get lost within the first few days of being adopted because they are scared and unsure of where they are. Wait two weeks and allow the dog to get used to you, your family and your routine before taking them anywhere with you.
  • When traveling by car, make sure your dog is contained in a kennel or is secured with a seat belt. Many dogs go missing after a car accident or when someone opens the door to the car to get out.
  • If you bring your dog to a groomer on a regular basis, have a conversation with him/her about how they will keep your pet safe so they don’t escape. Ask that your dog be contained until it is time for her to be groomed and after she is done. Also make sure that your dog is wearing a martingale collar when you drop them off and pick them up.

Prevention is key, but if your dog does get lost, here are some tips on how to find him/her again:

Lost Dog Tips

Lost Dogs-MN – Tips and Ideas

How to find a lost Sheltie – Minnesota Sheltie Rescue

How to Find Your Lost Dog (PetFinder)

Lost Dog Quick Action Plan from Granite State Dog Recovery

checkyourfenceAll photo credits are given to Lost Shelties-MN and Cindy Dahl Smith, who graciously agreed to let me share it.


  1. jan
    July 15, 2013 at 10:31 PM

    Few things in life are scarier than losing a child or a dog. Thanks for the reminders. Sometimes it is easy to get pre-occupied..

    • Mel
      July 15, 2013 at 10:59 PM

      Thank you Jan. I agree. As much as I try to be hyper-vigilant, I know all too well that life happens. I get pre-occupied too.

  2. July 15, 2013 at 10:43 PM

    May I also suggest that you teach your dog the “here” or “come” command under various circumstances. It’s all well and good if you work your dog in an obedience ring, but if your dog gets out, you’ll want to teach your dog to come to you around strange people, and in, say, the back end of a school parking lot when it isn’t busy, using a long leash. It’s also good teaching your dog a “drop”/”down” or “stop”/”whoa” command to keep them from running into traffic.

    • Mel
      July 15, 2013 at 10:58 PM

      Absolutely! A really great suggestion. Thank you for adding one I totally forgot.

  3. July 16, 2013 at 10:06 AM

    Popping over from the Blog the Change hop…Great tips and reminders. Sharing on our FiveSibes Facebook page!

    • Mel
      July 16, 2013 at 11:21 AM

      Thank you!

  4. July 16, 2013 at 10:13 AM

    Great insight. We all want to come home safe.

  5. July 16, 2013 at 2:00 PM

    Great, great advice. I follow some lost pet pages in my area on Facebook, and have read about all those different things that can go wrong. And it happens A LOT, and can happen to anyone! So extra diligence is always in order. Sharing.

  6. victorialynncarter
    July 18, 2013 at 4:38 PM

    As silly as putting a lock on your gate sounds, it is actually great advice. I’m sure most people don’t realize that dogs can and will learn how to operate gate latches, I have one such dog, and have to keep a clip on our gate. (The gate gets a lot of use so a lock would be to much of a hassle so the clip works and is a bit faster for us to manipulate)

    • July 18, 2013 at 4:47 PM

      We keep clips on our gates also! Yes, our Golden Retriever can jump right up and unlatch it. I think locks might be more in order if you live in a more urban area where a lot of people could be going in and out that you couldn’t keep an eye on. We are pretty rural, and only have to be careful when we have contractors here (our current favorite contractors are well trained though!).

      • Mel
        July 19, 2013 at 10:50 PM

        Guess I’m not the only one huh? Your Golden sounds very smart.You are lucky to have such great contractors. That’s actually a concern for me.

    • Mel
      July 19, 2013 at 10:50 PM

      Really great point Victoria. Your dog is wicked smart. Wow.

  1. July 20, 2013 at 12:02 PM

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