Remember that pets with ID tags and microchips are much more likely to find their way back home.
Always keep a current photo on your phone.
Sweep your neighborhood
If your dog just left your house, it may not be too far, immediately sweep your neighborhood, calling out your dog’s name. Be sure you bring something extra tasty, like steak or chicken or canned dog food, to get him to come to you if you are worried he won’t. Dogs can be easily spooked when loose.
While out searching, tell everyone you meet you are looking for your dog. Show them a picture from your phone. Call all your neighbors that are in the vicinity so they can be on the lookout for your dog.
Alert the microchip company
If your pet has a microchip, call the company to let them know your dog is missing. Make sure all your contact information is up to date at that point.
Create flyers to post everywhere! Make sure you have an up-to-date picture and put your contact information, description of pet, collar color, date missing, and any useful information (like “needs meds,” or “scared, do not approach”). Don’t forget to put “reward” if you are offering one. Put them everywhere, which gives you another chance to sweep your neighborhood in case your dog turned back or was hiding earlier and you missed it. Pet FBI has an online template you can use.
Stop by local vet offices
Go to the local vets with your flyer so if anyone brings him in, they know where he belongs. It will help them quickly find you in the event it’s an emergency situation and/or the microchip won’t read.
Visit animal control and shelters
Most shelters and animal controls will not tell you if they have a dog that matches your dog’s description over the phone. Instead, drive there and leave some flyers. Remember, shelters are overwhelmed these days and sometimes turn dogs away if they are full; if they have their flyer they can tell the person who found him to contact you. Don’t rely on phone calls. Visit the shelter(s) every 1-2 days in person.
Post on Facebook and Nextdoor
Don’t forget how powerful social media is. Post your flyer on your page. And ask people to SHARE, SHARE, SHARE. Join local lost and found pet groups and ask them if they will post it on their Facebook page.
Post on Craigslist…but be careful
Post your lost flyer on Craigslist in case someone is looking, but also look for “found” dogs. A lot of people post “founds” in the pets section of Craigslist, so check it daily. BUT BE CAREFUL OF SCAMMERS on this site.
How Scammers Work
One type will claim that they have found your pet, but they need you to send them a 6-digit code to confirm that you are a real person. This person has not found your pet; they are collecting your phone number to create an account with Google Voice (or another similar service) which requires a real phone number to set up. Because these scammers don’t want to use their own phone number involved, they trick other people into using theirs.
Another type will also claim that they have found your pet but will send a picture of another dog or cat that closely resembles yours and demand an award before giving you your pet back. This person does not have your pet, and it would be wise to reverse-search the photos they send if you have any doubts.
Unfortunately, scammers have the best luck preying on the vulnerable. Due to the high emotions during the difficult time for the pet owner, it can be easy to overlook otherwise obvious red flags. Make sure not to give any award money before seeing the pet in person, and do not give any six-digit codes out to anyone claiming they’ve found your pet.