Category Archives: Lost Dog Behavior Tips

Articles on how lost dogs behavior changes.

Patience, setting up a feeding station, creating a safe zone and luring Minnie to safety!

Minnie was what we call a “Kentucky Stray”.  She was transported from a high kill shelter in one of the states south of Illinois and brought up to a rescue.  Minnie went into a foster home but unfortunately escaped.  Dogs who are used to being out on their own take time and patience to get them comfortable with a home environment.
Flyers were posted when Minnie first went missing.  Calls were coming in and her foster mom would rush to the location but she would be long gone by the time anyone got there. Minnie was figuring out where to find her necessities; food, water and shelter.
After she was missing for about a week and a half, a group of volunteers offered to start mapping the sightings, doing more flyers, and doing “driveway drops” hear sighting locations.   She was very, very, close to her home but a busy street was between the area where she was living and her home.
With the flyers and drops, more sightings came in and a pattern of location and time started to emerge.  She seemed to travel at night, which is very common  for dogs in survival mode.  It keeps them safer from predators, including humans.  It’s quieter at night…
While looking at her pattern, we noticed a few houses on Caton Farm that had pole barns.  One of the volunteers knocked on a door and asked if she could look around the property.  The owners were eager to help and let us do whatever we needed.  The volunteer found a pole barn, with an opening in the back. She also found several canine prints that were Minnie’s size, along with some dog poop.  The home owners had dogs but said theirs did not go back to that part of the yard.  The back of the pole barn was alone a fence line, and on the other side of the fence was a subdivision of town homes where there had been sightings of Minnie.  She was definitely there.  We thought maybe staying in the pole barn for shelter.

Signs that a dog was living there.

Minnie’s safe place.

Using a crock pot of smelly food to keep Minnie in the area. It was very cold out.

Since the flyers were doing their job, the next step was food and a game camera.  A camera was put up on Friday and food was trailed into the subdivision and along the fence where we thought she was traveling. Saturday morning proved what we thought.  Minnie showed up the night before and was eating the food.  That night a trap was deployed, more food trailed and within a half hour of setting it all up she was back.  It took a short time for her to decided she wanted the yummy chicken legs in the back of the trap and she was safely caught!

Minnie checking out the trap

Minnie trapped safe!

After a week and a half of trying to catch a glimpse of her when the sightings were called in, more flyers went up on day 13, driveway drops done on day 14, sightings mapped on day 15, camera and feeding station on day 16 and safely trapped on day 17.  Following the advice of Lost Dogs Illinois and Helping Lost Pets make this a textbook rescue.  Minnie was eventually adopted by her foster family and is now known as Lucy and is loving life.

Minnie now called Lucy

Thank you, Elaine, for sharing Minnie’s story.

Where Could Your Lost Dog Be? 2016

As the year draws to a close we are going to ask you to click on this link and to look through our 2016 Missing Dogs Albums one more time. or Helping Lost Pets.  Although we have had an incredibly successful year (over 5,500 reunions so far) we have many dogs that we are still searching for.

Where are they? In this blog post we’ll take a wild stab at our best guess (based on what we have learned over the last six years).

A small percentage of the still missing dogs are probably sadly deceased. BUT, we do know that a body is usually found and we encourage all owners to not give up unless they have confirmed physical evidence that their dog is deceased.  By far and away, our largest single cause of death is dogs that have been hit by a car (usually when they are being called or chased by well-meaning but misinformed citizens who do not know that you should never chase or call a scared lost dog). Our next most common cause of death is being hit by a train. Scared lost dogs will use the path of least resistance, and railroad tracks often provide a convenient route of travel between their hiding places and food sources. Unfortunately, some dogs are killed when the train comes, but again, a body is almost always found.  Our third most common cause of death is drowning; either by falling through thin ice, or by making a poor decision and bolting towards a body of water.  Lost dogs that are not being chased, approached or pressured will make wise decisions and may survive indefinitely.  Dogs that are being pressured or pursued will make poor decisions and may meet an untimely end.

Many people fear that their dog has been eaten or killed by coyotes. We do not find this to be common and very few of our deceased dogs have evidence of being killed by a predator.  Is it impossible? No. But dog/coyote altercations are almost always territorial (the dog is defending his yard or his territory) and scared, lost dogs are not territorial. They will defer to a larger predator.  Lost dogs simply want to survive – so they need to do three things – they will hide from predators (including man) and they will spend their time sleeping and traveling between their food sources and hiding places.   If a dog is killed by a larger predator – the body will usually be found. Predators do not tend to eat other predators and all members of the canine family are predators.

Where are the other still missing dogs? Some are still “out there” as described above. Scared and living in “survival mode”, these dogs may be rarely seen because they have become so adept at hiding and may be mostly nocturnal.  Eventually they will start to hang around one or more reliable food sources (often a farm that is leaving food out for outdoor cats).  If they are left alone they will become more domesticated and may be seen during daylight hours or even attempting to play with neighborhood dogs or farm dogs.  This is why it is SO important to continue to flyer in an ever-increasing radius of where your dog went missing from. Somebody, somewhere WILL see your dog and they need to know who to call when they do.

Some of our still missing dogs wandered far beyond their “jurisdiction”, out of the flyered area, and end up in the maze of animal sheltering and animal control. They may have been adopted to a new family or put down when their 7 day stray hold was up. These are a heartbreaker for us because the simple of act of posting pictures on line of impounded found dogs would bring most of these dogs home.  Our dedicated volunteers and fans scour the internet watching for possible matches but they cannot do this when there are no pictures available. Many Illinois shelters still do not reliably post pictures of impounded found dogs. Please ask them to do so. It is perhaps the simplest way to save lives and free up shelter space for those dogs that truly need it.

The last component (and probably the largest) are lost dogs that have been picked up by a Good Samaritan who meant well but then kept or rehomed the dog without searching for the owner.  Of course, this is illegal in Illinois, but it happens all too frequently. The current “rescue” phenomenon that is sweeping our country has kind -hearted people making false assumptions about the owners of a dog they find. They speculate that the dog has been abused, neglected or “dumped” and needs a new home. We have great success when we can get the finder to file a report with us so that we can post a flyer online.  This serves to dispel the false notion that people that have lost their dog don’t deserve him/her back.  We ask all of our fans to please spread the word to their friends, family and neighbors – Lost dogs don’t need a new home.  They just need to go home. Do not assume that you can keep a dog that you find. He/she is somebody else’s personal property and keeping him/her is illegal.

Thank you for helping us. Please take a few moments, scroll through our missing dog albums, and maybe, just maybe we can help reunite a few more of these dogs in 2016.

What Can Go Wrong And What Can Go Right In Capturing A Lost Dog.

Stella’s rescue is such an important story to tell.  Both the family and Buddha Dog Recovery and Rescue hope that her story can help other families know what to do and what not to do when their pet goes missing.

When Stella went missing on May 13th, a recovery group out of CT urged the family to hire a tracker out of Rhode Island. After paying $450, this tracker told them that Stella was cornered and picked up and taken by someone. Terrified and heart broken at thought of Stella being taken, her family posted signs that Stella was stolen. The truth was, Stella was never picked up, never stolen…she had never left the area as confirmed by countless sightings that started pouring in. The tracker could not have been more wrong. When confronted with the numerous sightings, both the tracker and recovery groups go to answer as always, was that whomever had Stella, let her go. Once again, this recovery group urged the owners to bring this same tracker back out to track Stella AGAIN and still sticking to same bogus story that she had been picked up. Stella was being sighted in a concentrated area, on the same streets over and over and over for a couple of weeks. Instead of setting up much needed traps for Stella, this recovery group had the family doing pointless bacon burns morning, noon and night for several days with the hopes that Stella would just come out of hiding and come out for the owner. Finally, after weeks of wasting precious time, resulting in Stella traveling further away, the recovery group set up a trap that was far too small for Stella. Not only was the trap too small but it was not set up properly and was left unmonitored, leaving a possum in the trap overnight and in to the next day which caused Stella to move from that area…again!

It was at this point that Jenn and I were contacted by the family. New signs were made and the poster coverage was expanded miles out from her last known whereabouts. After almost a week of no sightings, we finally got the call we were waiting for, someone who saw Stella’s poster on facebook, saw her six and half miles away from where she was last seen. More posters went up and we began mapping her extensive travel and figuring out her travel patterns, which included running along and crossing dangerous route 84. We immediately set up traps and an enclosure in the woods alongside route 84, monitored with a wireless feed so that the area would remain undisturbed. We repeatedly got Stella on camera along with a host of her furry friends, which included a very unwelcome fisher cat, a fox, possum and three different cats. The traps were monitored around the clock and many sleepless nights in the car ensued, so that if any of these creatures set off the trap it would be immediately reset so as not to scare Stella off from the area. Not disclosing many of her sightings and the location of the traps were instrumental in Stella’s capture. Stella’s daily travel pattern was a ten mile straight line back and forth appearing at the trap every two to three days. One terrifying night we helplessly watched from a distance as she slept directly along side route 84 by the enclosure, one false move and she would run directly in to traffic. Finally, last night she appeared on camera for what would be her last time, I called Jenn who lived minutes from where our enclosure was set up and she was there momentarily to hear the door slam shut…Stella’s time on the run was finally over! I made the call to Stella’s family and through screams of joy they made their way to meet Jenn and be reunited with their sweet Stella. All the sleepless nights, the poison ivy and poison oak was worth it!!! If proper recovery steps had been taken in the beginning, Stella would never have been in such danger on route 84 and would have been home long ago. By sharing the full story of Stella’s rescue we hope to help other families.

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Thank you Buddha Dog Rescue and Recovery for giving us permission to print Stella’s Story.

Keep Your Dog Safe During The Fourth Of July

fireworks
Noisy parades, loud music, neighborhood picnics, and, of course, fireworks, –these summertime traditions are all great fun for people, but they are traumatic and dangerous to their pets.

More pets run away from home over the Fourth of July holiday than any other. And with many towns holding fireworks displays throughout the summer, summertime escapes are becoming more and more commonplace.

Many dogs experience similar phobias during thunderstorms or when loud music is being played. Your dog may show the following signs: shaking, drooling, howling or barking, finding a place in the house to hide, and loss of bladder or bowel control.

Lost Dogs Illinois/Lost Dogs Of Wisconsin offers the following tips to keep pets feeling safe and secure when during fireworks or thunderstorms.

  • Take your pet for a walk or play date before the fireworks start. This allows your dog to exercise, release energy and, of course, go “potty”.
  • Keep pets indoors. They may even feel safer if they are placed in a smaller interior room with a radio/tv playing.
  • Close your windows. Dogs, in particular, can try and get out of the house by pushing out the screen.  Dogs have been known to bolt through screen doors so keep your inside door closed.
  • Resist the urge to take your dog to the local Independence parade and festivities.  Loud, crowded activities are no fun for your pets.
  • Check your fence line for loose boards or openings that your dog could slip through or dig out of.  We suggest  during these activities, you even keep a leash on your dog  and walk him/her in the fenced yard.
  • Make sure your pet has a license and a readable, up to date identification tag on his/her properly fitted collar and consider having a microchip identification inserted into your pet.

If your dog does accidentally escapes, please follow our 5 Things to Do if You Have Lost Your Dog.

LDI/LDOW wishes everyone a safe holiday!

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Probability VS. Possibility

Probability VS. Possibility

Photo courtesy of ponsuwan/Freedigitalphotos.net

Photo courtesy of ponsuwan/Freedigitalphotos.net

At Lost Dogs Illinois, we never say never.  We have had too many surprises and unlikely scenarios play out in the last few years.  But, that being said, we have learned a few things from the thousands of successful reunions that our organization and those of our sister sites have been involved with.

An owner that focuses the majority of their effort on what “probably” happened to their dog; rather than worrying about what “possibly” happened, is far more likely to have a quicker, more successful recovery.

Consider the weather. Is it possible for it to snow on any given day of the year in Illinois? Yes.  Is it probable? No.  So you can probably safely leave your parka at home in August.

Some examples pertaining to dogs:

  • A dog lost from a car accident that is not being pursued will probably stay within a 1/2 mile radius of where the accident occurred.
  • A small friendly dog lost in a populated area has probably been picked up, often very close to where they went missing from.  They can be taken to a shelter, stray holding facility or rescue; or kept, or rehomed.
  • A shy, fearful dog is probably still “out there” learning to live on their own and avoiding people.
  • A “dandelion”; common dogs that all look alike (eg. labrador retrievers)  are easily lost in the animal control/shelter system.

We have broken down our website articles to try to help you quickly “profile” your dog so that you can focus your efforts on probability. First; determine whether your dog has the risk factors of an elusive dog or an opportunistic dog.

Then read the corresponding articles from the Shy or Friendly categories on our website. Click on the categories on the right side of our webpage.

Our most likely “prediction” – most dogs are recovered because somebody that saw or knows something, saw a flyer or sign for the missing dog. Go door to door in the area that your dog was last seen and ask everybody if they have seen your dog. Use intersection signs to attract the attention of passing motorists.

Don’t delay! Your lost dog is depending on YOU to bring him safely home.

Where Could Your Lost Dog Be?

Cover photo wo logoAlthough we never say never, about 90% of the dogs that are still missing will fall into one of these three categories. A great deal will depend on the breed, appearance and personality of the dog.  Is he large or small? Shy or friendly?  Common-looking or distinctive-looking?

The three categories are:

1. The lost dog is still out there. These are the lost, confused, shy dogs that are living on their own. They may live out indefinitely. Or they may end up at a farm or eventually be captured and kept; rehomed or taken to a shelter or animal control facility; perhaps months or even years after they went missing. They may be very close to where they went missing from or they may have travelled far and wide, looking for food.

2. The lost dog was picked up by an animal control officer or Good Samaritan and taken to an animal control facility, shelter or rescue. They may have been adopted out or euthanized after the official stray hold period has passed.

3. The lost dog has been kept or rehomed by a Good Samaritan who either did not know that it is illegal to keep an animal you have found; or were reluctant to take the dog to a shelter. These people may have initially tried to find the owner on their own.

Knowing these three outcomes can help you tailor your search, although you always want to make sure you have covered all the bases. If your dog was a friendly small dog; it is very likely that he has fallen into the third category.  If he is a friendly large dog; you may want to concentrate your efforts on number two. If he was a shy or wary dog, he is probably in category one, evading people and using all of his instincts to find food and shelter to stay alive.

Regardless of which category your lost dog falls into, theses two elements will greatly increase your chance for success:

1. generating sightings through flyers and signs;

2. the determination of the owner or guardian to find their dog

Never give up hope. Lost dogs can be recovered weeks, months and even years after they have gone missing. Your dog is depending on you to find him.

Our tips, ideas and articles are based on information gathered from thousands of successful lost dog recoveries. Any advice or suggestions made by Lost Dogs of Wisconsin/Lost Dogs Illinois is not paid-for professional advice and should be taken at owner’s discretion.

Are There More Lost Dogs Now?

Puppy mill dogs and rescued dogs are often shy, undersocialized and wary of strangers. Photo credit: Frank Schemberger

People are always amazed at how many lost dogs there are posted on our Facebook page. We commonly get the question “Are there more lost dogs now? Why?”

Here is our answer:  YES! There are more lost dogs now. As a nation we are saving more dogs than ever, with many more people choosing adoption as their option. This is a great thing but it comes with it’s challenges. For many people this is their first experience owning a shy, rescued dog. These dogs are often high flight risks and can quickly escape through a door or wiggle out of an ill-fitting collar, harness or slip lead.

These high flight risk,  shy puppy mill and rescued dogs have many vulnerable moments while they are making their way through the re-homing system. Dogs are lost from transports, foster homes and  animal shelters or can be lost from their newly-adoptive homes.

There are also more under-socialized pet store dogs than before. Pet store puppies are often taken from their mothers and litter mates far too early, to make it to the pet store market while they are still irresistibly cute and cuddly. But this deprives the puppies of an important socialization period and can result in a shy, fearful personality.

Shy dogs are also being lost from shelters, vet clinics, groomers, pet sitters and kennels in record numbers. Education is the key! Educating people on how to prevent escapes and how to catch a shy, lost dog (don’t chase or call him) will help more of these dogs get home safely. Thank you for spreading the word and helping us!

 

Risk Factors for The Elusive Lost Dog

These are the indicating factors that will predispose a dog to shyness or elusiveness.

1) Demeanor: A shy or wary personality. Is the dog wary of strangers or men, or people wearing hats? Is he slow to warm up to new people?

2) Origin: Dogs rescued from abusive situations, puppy mills or purchased at a very young age (6 weeks or younger) are more likely to be predisposed to shyness. They may lack socialization skills or missed the early socialization period with their mother and littermates by being taken away from the litter too young.

3) Breed: Some breeds seem predisposed to becoming shy and wary very quickly when they are lost. They are: Herding breeds such as Shelties, Australian Shepherds, Border ColliesSighthounds such as Greyhounds, Italian Greyhounds, Whippet,s Chihuahuas, Rat Terriers and other small sensitive breeds Boxers

4) Dogs lost from a location other than home such as: Boarding kennel, training facility, doggy day care, Pet sitter, Vet clinic, Groomers, Animal shelter, Foster home, Rescue transport, Newly adopted or purchased,, Family or friends’ home

5) Dogs lost from a stressful situation which may or may not include loud noises such as: Thunderstorms, Fireworks, Parades, Gunfire, Cars backfiring, Airbrakes, Car accidents, House fires, Natural disasters

Any one or a combination of the above will predispose the dog to being an elusive dog to catch.

Where Could Your Lost Dog Be?

Although we never say never, about 90% of the dogs that are still missing will fall into one of these three categories. A great deal will depend on the breed, appearance and personality of the dog.  Is he large or small? Shy or friendly?  Common-looking or distinctive-looking?

The three categories are:

1. The lost dog is still out there. These are the lost, confused, shy dogs that are living on their own. They may live out indefinitely. Or they may end up at a farm or eventually be captured and kept; rehomed or taken to a shelter or animal control facility; perhaps months or even years after they went missing. They may be very close to where they went missing from or they may have travelled far and wide, looking for food.

2. The lost dog was picked up by an animal control officer or Good Samaritan and taken to an animal control facility, shelter or rescue. They may have been adopted out or euthanized after the official stray hold period has passed.

3. The lost dog has been kept or rehomed by a Good Samaritan who either did not know that it is illegal to keep an animal you have found; or were reluctant to take the dog to a shelter. These people may have initially tried to find the owner on their own.

Knowing these three outcomes can help you tailor your search, although you always want to make sure you have covered all the bases. If your dog was a friendly small dog; it is very likely that he has fallen into the third category.  If he is a friendly large dog; you may want to concentrate your efforts on number two.

If he was a shy or wary dog, he is probably in category one, evading people and using all of his instincts to find food and shelter to stay alive.

Regardless of which category your lost dog falls into, theses two elements will greatly increase your chance for success:

1. generating sightings through flyers and signs;

2. the determination of the owner or guardian to find their dog

Never give up hope. Lost dogs can be recovered weeks, months and even years after they have gone missing. Your dog is depending on you to find him.