Don’t Lose Your Dog on Vacation: 12 Tips
Lots of us are looking forward to getting out of the Valley heat and traveling this summer. And many of us will bring our dogs along, which can add to the fun. Before heading out, we hope you’ll take a minute to review the following tips we’ve gathered, so that you and yours can have a wonderful trip from which you all return home safe and sound!
Before the trip
- Check identification
Make sure your dog’s tags and microchip are current (all FLPS dogs are microchipped). If you don’t have a cell phone or service will be spotty where you’re visiting, you may even consider putting the address and phone number of where you’ll be staying on temporary tags, suggests PetMD. Also bring along current photos of your dog (on your phone is fine), including a full body shot.
- Leash up
Always plan to keep your dog on a leash. Startling and/or unfamiliar sights, sounds, and smells can distract and/or frighten in an instant, causing your dog to take off. For extra safety, think about using a martingale collar and/or a waist leash.
- Choose your accommodations
If you have a choice in where you stay, consider a hotel room with interior corridors. This way, if your dog bolts from your guest room, she is still contained within the hotel, rather than in a parking lot or on the street.
- Review basic training
Review basic obedience commands with your dog, particularly coming when called no matter what distractions are present.
If your dog gets lost during vacation
- Act fast
According to HARTT (the Humane Animal Rescue and Trapping Team), the first 24-48 hours are the most critical. The effort you put in then will directly impact your success in finding your dog.
- Contact local shelters
Check shelters daily in person if possible. Going in person is often better than calling as your dog may have changed a bit and shelter workers can be understaffed, according to petsafe.net. Also ask to see any dogs that can’t be seen via public viewing.
- Make fliers
Utilize the photos you brought to make flyers. Place a minimum of 100 fliers in a half-mile radius around where your dog went missing. Fliers are very effective as they reach residents who may not be reachable online, advises HARTT. If safe to do so, go door-to-door, too. Additionally, take fliers to vet offices, animal shelters and pet stores and tell the staff about your lost dog.
- Talk to locals
Find out where locals recommend you should check for your dog. Also inform your accommodations staff because they can suggest possible hiding spots onsite, be on the lookout and let other guests know.
- Go online
Check websites like Straydar and The Center for Lost Pets. There also may be local websites dedicated to lost pets. Additionally, see if you can find someone local who will post about your dog on nextdoor. HARTT lists other resources here to check out.
See if you can get some help to canvas the area where you lost your dog. Only the person with whom the dog is most bonded should call her name. Others should just be on the lookout. It’s likely your dog has remained in the area. Senior dogs are less likely to wander far distances. Generally, dogs remain near the spot you lost them. HARTT states in their experience, about 80% of lost pets are found within one mile of where they were lost, even in areas totally new to them.
Put out your pet’s favorite toys and clothing or other items that smell like you or your home at the place where you last saw your dog, away from foot or road traffic. This may encourage them to come out from hiding, as they might be (understandably!) nervous, being lost in a strange place, according to PetMD.
- Don’t give up
You’ll have to go home at some point. If possible, have someone keep checking the shelter in person; otherwise, keep calling them. Animals who have been lost for months have been reunited with their owners. According to HARTT, "Most lost pets do survive; they are incredibly resourceful and can usually find sources of water, nourishment and shelter."
With these tips, we hope you and your dogs have a wonderful vacation and that everyone returns home happy and healthy!