Lost Pet Prevention Advice

At PetHub, we like to be transparent: we have affiliate relationships with other companies (Amazon and Chewy included), and we may receive a commission on qualifying purchases made via the links in this article at no extra cost to you.

I would like to start by introducing myself, my name is Britney Digilio and I run a program called The Lola Project, where our mission is to raise awareness and educate about mental health and illness, and the benefits of psychiatric service dogs, especially for our Veterans. Throughout my life, my parents have always run an animal rescue (where we rehabilitated and trained dogs before they were placed with their “fur-ever” homes), my step-father was a Police K9 trainer and handler, and as well I have been training dogs for years now.  With July being Lost Pet Prevention Month, I would like to share some of my tips on how to prevent the loss of your pet, and if you ever your pet becomes lost, some tips on how to get them back.
First and foremost, every pet should always have some type of ID on (i.e. collar with ID tag including name/address/phone number, embroidered collars with name and phone number, QR ID tags like PetHub offers that allows you to set up an online profile with all you and your pets info, etc); I would also recommend micro-chipping your pet in the case that they were to get lost and their ID falls off, there is a back-up way to identify your pet.

Following are some bulleted tips on how to prevent pet loss:

  • Make sure your pet is solidly trained in basic obedience (sit, down, stay, etc)
  • Remember to do fun and controlled bond building with your pet (including going to a dog park and work on recall, going for jogs, play fetch, etc), this will help your pet trust you, and learn that you are fun, and someone they want to be around.
  • Expose them to as many different environments and changes in environment as possible, so that they can learn no matter the situation you are there, and you know how to control your pet in that situation. Great ways to practice this is car rides, outings to pet friendly places, play dates with other pets, and mix up home routine occasionally to ensure there is minimal stress in changed situations.
  • Play hide-and-go-seek at home (this may sound silly but it’s a great tip/trick). It’s as simple as while doing laundry/dishes/cleaning/watching TV/etc call your pet over for no other reason than to get them to come to you, and when they get there reward them, and let them go back to whatever they were doing. This teaches them to come when called, in a fun and environment they know and feel safe in.
  • Also, somewhat similar to above, work on solid outdoor recall. To start, work with a training leash (usually 20-30ft long), where you stand on one end and allow your pet to be 6ft away (then 10, 15, 20, 25, then 30ft) , then call them to you, have them sit in front of you, grab the collar and say “got ya!” and reward them, and repeat, but only a handful of times, as you want this exercise to be fun, and not stressful on your pet.
  • Remember to only call them to you once, do not repeat the command, as this can teach your pet that they can follow commands when they want, instead of when they are asked to.
  • Note: during these exercises gabbing a collar quickly and saying “got ya” helps teach them that they quick movement of grabbing their collar is not to start playing or intimidate them, but rather a normal movement to connect with them, and rewards follow.
  • A big mistake many pet owners make is only calling for your pet to come when you are “ending their fun” (i.e. bringing them inside from playing in the yard so you can leave for work, calling they to yell at them for something naughty they dig, etc), sometimes call your pet to you, reward them for coming, and let them go back to what they were doing; also it’s great to give a “jackpot” reward occasionally, like a special chewing bone or stuff Kong, when they come in after you called them, this way they learn that coming when called isn’t bad, and that they get rewarded for listening.
  • Here’s one of the hardest ones, if your pet decides to be difficult and doesn’t come when called, like if they want to let you get close, but then dart off and wait for you to get close and do it again this is a game for them, or if they see some type of wildlife that catches their eye and they try to chase it, when you catch them, DO NOT DISCIPLINE them, simply grab their collar/clip leash on, and in silence bring them back. If you try to discipline, the pet will learn that when you are trying to catch them and catch them, they are going to get in trouble, they will not want to come, because who wants to come when they know they’re getting in trouble. If this behavior persists consider a tie-out where they are regulated/anchored, yet free to move about a large area.

Here are some tips of how to get your pet back in the event they become lost;

  • Of course, go look for them, immediately. If you have more than just you available to search get together as many people as possible, and all take different areas to search.
  • Contact your local animal control officer, neighbors, family, etc letting them know what happened, as it is best to have as many eyes out looking and aware.
  • Believe it or not, flyers can be helpful; a simple flyer with your contact, your pet’s name, and a picture of the pet is all you need, and hang then where you can.
  • If your pet uses a kennel/crate, has a favorite toy (not made of animal product, like rawhides, cow hoofs, pig ears, etc), uses a pet bed, or if you have an article of clothing that has your scent on it (best would be something you have sweat in), place that outdoors in the area you last saw them/direction they took off in/or direction you suspected they took off in, also place a bowl of fresh water by it (no food! As food will attract other animals). Pets have an incredible sense of smell and therefore can smell from miles away, these items will help lead them back to a safe and recognized area, as well as fresh water. This is an old hunters/trackers trick for getting their hunting/tracking dogs back, when lost in the wilderness.


Some other random tips to know:

  • Always have high-value treats on hand (treats that are extra stinky, high protein and something your pet loves and goes wild for) just in case you need to lure your pet to you or want to reward for great obedience… Personally my dogs go wild for beef or lamb lung.
  • Have an extra leash, water bottle, water bowl, and treats in your car, in the case you ever have to go searching for your pet (or simply forget items when going on an outing).
  • Know your Veterinarian’s phone number (or have it stored in your phone), this ensures that if anything were to happen to your pet whether at home, on outings, or if they are lost (and when you find them), you have an immediately line to contact them for emergency services.
  • Never stop training! Even if only once a week, do a run through of some basic obedience, or any other exercise that involves the pet following commands. This keeps your pet’s mind working, and engaged.
  • Pets can get bored easily when left alone, try and find an engaging toy to have available for them (like a treat dispensing ball, toys that are automated and move, etc.) or make sure there are plenty of toys available to play with.
  • For outside pets, try filling a 2 gallon or similar size bucket with water and dropping several water safe toys in (kongs, balls, squeaky toys, rope toys, etc.) then freezing it. After frozen, place outside (preferably on a hard non-dirt surface) and allow the pet to lick the ice and have the ice melt, and over time new toys will become available.


I hope some of these tips can help you are your pets live a happy, healthy and safe life together.
For any inquiries about The Lola Project, our mission, what we do and how we do it, training, advice, or any other comments, questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Britney Digilio
Founder/Trainer of The Lola Project
Like us on facebook : facebook.com/britneyandlola
Follow us on Instagram : @thelolaproject
Follow us on Twitter : @lola_project