So what if the worst happens and your beloved dog runs away? Know how to prevent it and also know what to do if it happens…

The first minutes are important, while your dog is happy and confident you may be able to crouch down and entice her back (crouch down or lie down and call her as if she is a puppy), maybe by running in the opposite direction or maybe you are lucky and the dog runs into a dead-end of someone’s garden which you can enclose by shutting the gate. However if something spooks the dog (like a passing car) or if she is already scared then she is entering Survival Mode and she is highly unlikely to come to you or be caught. Do not assume the dog will return home when hungry or tired, once the dog is in Survival Mode it is unlikely and waiting to see would waste valuable time and leaves the dog in danger.

Once the dog is in Survival Mode, even the most obedient dog will not recall, hearing her name will not lure her out and her favourite squeaky toy will not distract her. She is trying to look after herself in this scary new world, her priorities will be avoiding people and other scary things, finding shelter and food and water.

It is therefore really important that you call in expert help as soon as possible, do not delay.

Things to do….

  • Contact DogLost DogLost is a free service covering the whole of the UK, linking up volunteers and dog trapping groups, producing posters, advising on what to do next, providing support and sharing the dog details through social media. The sooner they know the easier the job is.
  • Contact SeBPRA via your rehomer or any member of the team. Your dog is our dog, the dedicated volunteer SeBPRA team are here to support our dogs and a missing dog is top priority. The sooner we know the better. We can help with communications, filling out the DogLost forms, contacting PetTrac etc allowing you to get out there and look (which is what you will naturally be wanting to do)
  • When you leave home to search for your dog, make sure to leave the garden gate open and a door to the house open if possible, leave food and water in the garden and ideally someone at the house.
  • If you see your dog, do not chase her. Crouch down or freeze and be completely non-threatening. Many people searching can scare the dog and force her to run on away from known areas and maybe into danger of traffic or railway lines. It is not easy to catch a scared dog and you may well need a humane dog trap set up. If she can rest in a relatively safe area and settle there, it is a good start to getting her home.
  • Contact the microchip registration company (PetTrac) and let them know that your dog is missing so they can update their records (and also let them know when you have the dog safely home again).
  • Remember that large search parties and drones can do more harm than good, they can scare the dogs into running further and further away. The local experts will advise on the best way to get your dog safely home and they can often pull in drones and traps as needed. Please do listen to their advise and of course talk to the SeBPRA team if you are concerned. It is hard to be patient when your dog is lost, but working with the experts is the best way forward.

And finally, most importantly, some ways to avoid the heart ache of a lost dog……

Your dog

  • Attach a new dog tag disc to your dog the moment you collect her. The dog tag should have your name, address and phone no on. If your dog does not like the jangle of the tag then choose a tag plate that slides onto the collar or a collar with a silicone disc to prevent any noise. A GPS tracker is an optional extra.
  • Keep the microchip up to date (PetTrac), it will be put into your name initially, and you can add several additional phone numbers to the records.

Front door

  • Always shut your dog behind a second door before opening the front door, like an air lock on a submarine.


  • Always use a longline onto the harness with a new rescue in the garden, a scared dog can climb a high wall.


  • Don’t worry about walks until your dog is ready and then for scared dogs use double lead initially (a slip lead used in combination with the normal lead to harness).
  • Always use a long line attached to the harness to allow the dog some freedom until recall is excellent, and then only let the dog off in known safe areas, initially with trailing long line.
  • Remember to use a long line in dog fields until you are sure the field is secure for your dog.
  • It can be useful to attach a second lead to a waist belt (cani-cross style), it can help to free up hands and also means your dog is not free if you slip.


  • Always restrain the dog in the car so that when you open the boot or door the dog cannot jump straight out. This can be done with a suitable harness and lead attached to back seat head rests or with a travel crate.


1 Comment

  1. Very good information here, thank you 😊
    If your dog is flighty or nervous we would recommend a ruffwear 3 point harness, a little more expensive but worth it.
    As an added extra security attaching one lead to a dog walking belt and harness and another to the collar is a good idea, if you stumble or drop the lead, the dog will be still attached 👍

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