Lost Pet Advice: Understanding Dog Behavior

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.

A dog may be man’s best friend, but that certainly doesn’t prevent them from going wandering when opportunity strikes. Like many humans, certain breeds of dogs are adventurers, curious creatures who dream of what lays beyond any barrier you may construct to keep your pet safely tucked away at home. If you’ve discovered that your dog has gone missing, it’s absolutely imperative to start the search for your lost friend immediately. Unlike cats, who are territorial and tend to hide out close to home, a dog can cover miles of territory before realizing that they’ve gotten lost.  

Dog holding magnifying glass up to eye

Image Source: (c)iStockphoto/Damedeeso


In most cases, your dog doesn’t mean to run away from home or leave you behind. They may even panic when they realize they’ve gotten themselves into a scary situation and can’t easily find their owner. It’s usually a simple case of instinctive canine behavior: the temptation to explore overrules all other thoughts, including obedience training and fear of punishment. In some cases, a dog will take off because of a traumatic event in their life, a perceived danger like thunder, fireworks, other loud noises, or an actual natural disaster.
What you may not know is that there are a number of factors that determine your dog’s ability to be rescued and returned to you. A dog that is gregarious, friendly, and truly loves people is more likely to show up at someone’s back door in search of help, while a dog with an aloof and distrustful temperament will travel in the shadows, often mistaken for a stray or wild animal.
In both instances, the news is fairly promising. An outgoing dog will actively seek out other humans and make it well aware that they are lost, hungry, and anxious to return home. As a result, they are more likely to be rescued, cared for, taken to a local shelter, or even adopted by a new family. The more aloof dog will be harder to track down, but their street smarts are more likely to keep them out of danger, whether from cars, predators, or being picked up as a stray by animal control authorities.
In both cases, the best ways to ensure your furry friend finds their way home is to make certain they’re wearing ID tags and are microchipped. That way, if the dog is rescued, any shelter or veterinarian will be able to scan the microchip to locate you, and reunite you with your wayward pooch. Sadly, each year, a number of animals are euthanized simply because there was no way to track down the pet’s owner. While you’re out looking for your lost dog make certain that anyone who finds them is able to find you.
PetHub makes this easy, using technology to reunite rescued animals with the owners who are desperately searching for them. Adding a simple tag with a unique QR code on the back allows anyone who finds your dog, not just a professional, to use a computer or mobile device to pull up your pet’s profile page. This profile is capable of holding multiple contact numbers, your dog’s medical needs, personality traits, and more. In the case that your pet is missing, you can set up an alert that displays on their page and also allows anyone who may have found your pet to contact you immediately.
If your dog is a large, energetic, or an aggressive breed, they’re far less likely to be rescued or given a new home than a small, friendly, family-oriented breed. Although some pit bulls are the sweetest companions on Earth, many people are taught by nature to fear them, and will call animal control rather than offer the lost dog a bowl of food and water. On the other hand, even the most distrustful of small dogs will appear so lost and helpless that it won’t take long before someone takes them in and starts looking for the dog’s owner.
Unfortunately, some areas of the country aren’t all that kind to breeds of dogs that have reputations for being aggressive, such as pit bulls and Rottweilers. Some shelters will not accept these dogs, and the pound will choose to euthanize more quickly, due to the fact that fewer people want to adopt these breeds. When they are adopted, it is too often by people who train these dogs to become aggressive, whether to fight or to protect. If you own a breed of dog that’s considered aggressive, it’s imperative that you do everything possible to find them before anyone else does. Even if your dog is the sweetest companion in the world, they may be misjudged on appearance alone.
The sooner you take steps to seek out your dog, including searching within a 20 mile radius of your home, putting up fliers, contacting every shelter, pound, and vet within the area, and making sure they are well-identified, the more likely it is that the two of you will be quickly reunited.