Lost Dog Behavior

Dog standing on a lawn

 It is important to understand your dog's personality, lifestyle, and behavior in order to effectively search.  


This dog gets out all the time and knows his territory. He appears confident, often following a prescribed route and urinating at regular intervals. The explorer will usually return home by the end of the day. While this dog still faces dangers while running at large, he is generally savvier than a house dog and will avoid people and keep himself safe.  


The dog that is running scared is in great danger of being hit by a car. Often set off by a fright like gunshots, fireworks, or other noise, he runs without heed and does not know where he is. This may be his first time away from home, and he will be very skittish. Many dogs go missing right after being sent to a foster or adoptive home. They slip the leash, jump the fence, or bolt out an open door. These dogs are at a disadvantage because they don’t know where they are and they have not bonded with their owners. If they are naturally fearful or unsocialized like many of the dogs being imported to the U.S. from other countries like Mexico, Taiwan, and China, they will be quite difficult to capture.   


Shy dogs will hide and avoid people. They may growl or bite if cornered, so owners and helpers must be cautious when approaching them. Sometimes the shy dog will settle down once captured and handled gently. Very important: they will become more fearful if chased to the point that people cannot get anywhere near them, so the owner should ask helpers to call with sightings and not attempt to catch the dog. A large part of dog behavior is influenced by genetics rather than the environment. This is important to understand because often finders will assume that a shy dog has been abused, when in fact he may be a loved pet with a naturally fearful temperament.    


Outgoing dogs are friendly and may follow people or get in cars. These dogs are easier to catch which gets them to safety more quickly; however, due to their friendly nature they are also in danger of being kept by finders who mean well but assume they are abandoned.    Dogs of all kinds are motivated by the need for food, water, shelter, and other dogs. In wilderness areas they are often found near natural water sources or on trails where people and other dogs walk.


Visit our page on EFFECTIVE SEARCH TECHNIQUES to bring your lost dog home quickly. 


These detailed guides to finding a lost dog are available on Amazon:


How to Find a Lost Dog: The Pet Owner's Guide

Written by licensed private investigator Karin TarQwyn, this book presents nine scenarios with action plans to help you put aside the panic and take practical steps toward reuniting with your best friend. 

Lost Dog Recovery Guide: Instructions on How to Find Your Lost Dog – FAST!

Written by private investigator Annalisa Berns, this book   includes everything about searching for a lost dog. For when you have tried everything but don't have your pet back yet