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Finding your lost dog

Burrito the poodle - lost dog in Auckland, New Zealand

Unfortunately we've been hearing a lot about lost dogs recently. Christchurch dog Frost was missing for over 24 hours before she was found and South Auckland dog Burrito the poodle (pictured) continues to be lost almost a week after he went missing (Burrito was finally found on 26 September!!! Hooray!).

So where do you even start when your dog goes missing? Chances are dog parents will be stressed at such a time so we've compiled a list of helpful tips.

How to search

Check your immediate surroundings including any places your dog could be hiding as they may be scared. Call your dog's name clearly and calmly, so they know you are not angry with them. Their favourite treats are a great way to lure them out of hiding spots, particularly if your search goes on for some time as your dog will be in survival mode looking for food and water. Your clothes or your dog's toys and bedding are also familiar scents to them so they should be placed around the search area to lure your dog out.

Ask family, friends, and locals for help

Ask family and friends to join the search and to call you if they see your dog. As your dog's parent and most trusted human, you have the most chance of catching your dog and strangers often scare dogs - they're called strange for a reason! As you search you can also ask locals if they have seen your dog and give them your contact details in case they do.

Where to search

Determine where to search depending on where your dog went missing. Dogs have an incredible sense of smell and often follow their scent trails to where they have previously been. Your dog may return home or where they last saw you. One person should stay at your home to let you know if they arrive there. Be sure to leave a gate or door open for them to return. Are there places or people nearby that they would visit? Are there any dangers in the area where they could get into trouble, such as cliffs or rivers? Create a search radius using a map that you can share with those helping to look for your dog.

Spread the word

Create a flyer that you can distribute in person and online. A flyer should contain:

  • A clear photo of your dog
  • Description of your dog, including any recognisable features and what accessories they were wearing when they went missing
  • Their last known location
  • Microchip ID number
  • Your contact details
  • Any reward details if you are offering one

Once you've compiled this information into a flyer, spreading the word to relevant organisations and online is a good job to delegate to a family member or friend so that you can continue the physical search for your dog. As mentioned above, you are your dog's most trusted human so you have the most chance of catching your dog if they are on the run.

If your dog is microchipped, check the details that you have registered with New Zealand Companion Animal Register (NZCAR) and your local council are up to date, and report your dog missing. There are two major websites in New Zealand that have great advice and support for owners who have lost their pets - and Both sites have a number of free resources that can be utilised such as poster templates, they create social media posts to alert their communities, and further information to help. There are also numerous lost animal groups on Facebook.

Don't lose hope!

Finally, don't give up! Dogs can be found hours, days, weeks, and even months since they first go missing so don't get discouraged! Don't lose hope that you will be reunited with your dog again.

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