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Offering Tips for a More Effective Dog Search

Search and Recovery Questions

It takes a village to bring a lost dog home. Granite State Dog Recovery will help you create the village that will help you reunite with your lost dog. Get in touch with us in Manchester, New Hampshire if you have any questions. You may also want to refer to the following FAQs for further information.


Where should we start searching and when?

Please start searching immediately; do not wait to see if your dog will return on his or her own! The sooner you start, the greater the chance that your dog will be returned uninjured.

You should start your search at your home. Quietly walk and drive around the area. Take a leash, a bag of food (hot dogs, Vienna sausages) as bait. Favorite toys are good, especially if the dog goes absolutely bonkers when he/she sees it. Talk briefly with anyone you see; ask if they saw your dog.

Make sure you search your own property first and then the surrounding neighbor's property, checking areas where your dog could be trapped, injured, or deceased. Dogs have become trapped inside sheds, closed inside trailers, entangled in wires under homes, dropped into wells, and even fallen into neighboring swimming pools.


In the winter, check for evidence of a disturbed pool cover. If you live near the water, please check under boat docks. Accidents happen and he or she could be trapped underneath. (Reminder: never go on private property without permission)

Remember that recovery is a team effort. However, assign one person as the point person for coordination. Communication is key. Keep everyone that is helping in the search updated.


Why should I look under the shed?

A frightened or injured dog will hide in a dark space and will not come to you. Use a flashlight for checking under houses and other dark spots.

The point is, please look in every nook and cranny. Don't assume that your pet would never crawl into some tiny space.

How far will my dog go?

The distance that a lost dog will travel depends upon its temperament, the environment (terrain and weather), and the circumstances surrounding the disappearance.

Dogs can run 5 miles or more if they are being chased.

Most dogs are recovered within a 3-mile circle of their home.

Draw a 3-mile circle around the spot you lost your pet or his or her last known sighting. If they are not being pursued they will find food/water/shelter within this circumference. 

If you have recently moved, a dog may try to travel back to his or her old house. They may even try to get to a house where they frequent (grandparent's, dog sitter's, dog companion's home).

Every dog that Granite State Dog Recovery has searched for has traveled in a circle. Mapping sightings and keeping a log will help create the circle your dog is traveling in.

Keep a master map for tracking dog sighting at main locations, and remember to mark down any sighting no matter how old they are when they are called in.  

My dog is elderly, how far would he or she go?

15 years old and reunited after 20 days

Highly populated areas could mean a smaller radius and sparsely populated areas could mean your dog will travel farther. Place highly visible lost-dog posters in the area of disappearance. You may utilize a poster distribution service that will mail notices to homes within a 3-mile radius of where the dog escaped.

Even if they have lived in a house for some time, elderly dogs can forget how to get home. It is very important to check the woods around your house and your neighborhood to make sure your dog has not fallen and doesn't have the strength to get back on his or her feet.

Should I leave my dogs crate outside if he or she goes missing?

Please leave out something that smells like home as soon as your pet goes missing. This may be a t-shirt that smells like whoever it is closest to. Sweaty gym socks are great for this as well.

Place your dog’s bedding and favorite toys outside along with warm freshly cooked chicken, bacon, or other savory meat.

Placing a trail or hunting camera facing the food and clothing will help determine if your dog has visited the area. We suggest checking the camera every morning and replacing the food at least once per day. If environmental temperatures are extremely high or low, change the food twice per day to keep it fresh and smelly.

feeding station set up on a woodline with landowners permission

What is a food station?

Food stations are one of the most important things in recovering a lost dog. To set up a food station, put smelly food on the ground that will attract your lost dog back to the sighting location. Smelly food, such as canned Tripe, Alpo canned dog food, or any inexpensive canned dog food (the cheaper the food cost, the smellier it is), or rotisserie chicken ($5 buck cluck) works wonders in attracting a lost dog.

Do not abandon ship in a day or two; it will be one of the biggest mistakes in your lost dog search! If a dog has been in a location once, it is very likely that he or she may return to it as long as he or she was not chased out of the area. This is especially the case if they have found food.

I left food out at the food station and now it gone, was it my dog?

A trail camera is a huge help in a lost dog search. It is a device that records images, either as a still photograph or a video. It is a rugged and weatherproof camera designed for extended and unmanned use outdoors and runs on batteries. When the lost dog goes to the food station, it takes a photo and puts a time stamp on the photo, which will help you determine your missing dog’s feeding pattern.

It is also very useful in checking if raccoons, cats, skunks, opossums or other wildlife are eating the food instead of your beloved lost dog.

Although it is possible that someone has stolen your dog please do not assume this is the case. Most times, the dog is still wandering the streets in the neighborhood. A shy/quiet dog is most likely hiding and avoiding people and would not give anyone the opportunity of picking him or her up.


Why do I need to visit the shelters?

Shelters are very busy and even though they may have received your lost dog poster or phone call they may not immediately recognize if your dog has been brought in. This is a necessary task otherwise, you may never know what happened to your pet. Shelters hold dogs in NH for 7-10 days. After their quarantine is up they are likely put up for adoption if not claimed.

Call the city, county, and state road crews frequently to see if they have found your pet's body. Do not assume because your dog is wearing an ID tag the DOT should contact you if they find your pet deceased along the road. Tags and collars could have been lost in their travels. You must put forth the effort to communicate with all organizations on a daily basis.

What type of signs should we make and where should they be hung up?

You need to make big colorful eye-catching signs for busy intersections. On telephone poles, it is best to keep your posters basic.  

You have to include a photo of your pet. If you don't have an appropriate photo, then you can create one by copying an image off the Internet. Use one of the major search engines, select images as the filter, put in a description of your dog, and you will have dozens of images to choose from. Don't worry if you are borrowing someone's holiday photo of their dog, they will probably be only too happy to learn they are helping yours come home.

If you are in a bilingual community, put your sign in both languages. The major search engines on the Internet translate your text immediately and for free. Please put signs in plastic sheets to protect them from the elements, in case you don't find your dog right away. 

Your lost dog post should be basic and to the point. We recommend that you do not put your dog’s name on the poster as you do not want hundreds of people out calling for him or her. Please realize that a lost dog can become very confused. They may not respond to their name and may become very afraid of people and will run. 

What should my voice mail message say?

You should change your voice mail announcements asking callers to leave a detailed message if they have sighted your dog.

What is the best approach to helping a scared lost dog?

Your natural instinct is to chase or call out to a dog on the run, but you will never be able to outrun a dog no matter the size of the dog!

If you see a dog you know is lost please call the number on their lost dog poster immediately. Do not try to capture.

What is the best food item to have while searching for a lost dog?

We have found hot dogs and Vienna sausages are among the best. They are very easy to toss in small bites to a lost dog. 

Where can I get a Have-A-Heart trap?

We suggest you check with your animal control officer or local humane society that might have a trap they can loan out to you. Granite State Dog Recovery does have them available but cannot always get to your lost dogs location.  

Will Granite State Dog Recovery solicit us with a paid service, such as a dog tracker, pet detective, trapper, or any other paid service? 

The answer is no! Granite State Dog Recovery is an all-volunteer 501 (c)3 nonprofit organization who offers a FREE service. If you are solicited by a Granite State Dog Recovery Facebook member (not a board member or volunteer), any dog tracker or other paid service, we ask that you email or call us right away.

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