So, what does DO NOT CHASE or CHASING A DOG mean exactly?
Chasing a lost / stray dog is simply any forward movement in the direction of the dog, even as little as one step could, in the dog’s mind, can be considered chasing. They immediately view this as a threat and will run away. They don’t take the time to say, hey you are my Mom, Dad, or someone trying to help, but instead a threat. A lost or stray dog will act one of 2 ways, FIGHT or FLIGHT, most will choose FLIGHT and run away.
Please take into consideration you could be chasing a dog out of their safety zone while trying to be recovered by a trained lost pet professional.
All too often when pets go missing or escape from their owners, the first instinct is to yell their name and run after them. Another technique used is to create a search party and go looking for them in cars, quads, ATV, or UTV vehicles. All this falls under the DO NOT CHASE rule. Also, dogs can hear much better than we can, so anything with a motor will scare them before you even get near their location.
These are examples of chasing a lost or stray dog:
- Walking after a lost dog
- Running after a lost dog
- Riding a pedal bike after a lost dog
- Following a lost dog in your car
- Chasing a dog using any type of ATV, UTV, Dirt Bike or Scooter
- Chasing after a lost dog on a skateboard
- Following or Chasing after a lost dog with a group of people/search party unless advised to do so while accompanied by a trained professional
Knowing when to leave a stray dog alone.
Lost or stray dogs can travel all over the place and can take many different paths on their journey. It is important to stop and think of potential dangers to not only yourself but the lost or stray dog. Unfortunately, we have seen and have read about many tragedies of dogs being killed by vehicles. NEVER EVER try to approach a lost or stray dog while it is near or on a road unless you can safely stop traffic in both directions without putting yourself at risk. As we have said most lost or stray dogs may see you as a threat which can cause them to react right into traffic.
Nobody wants harm to happen these poor dogs, but your well-intended actions could put them at risk. Please take heed and know when you must back off in order to save their life. Our advice is to let the dog move to a safer location away from potential risks and if the dog speeds up its pace let it go, you are chasing which is what we do not want.
What happens if the dog approaches you first?
Our general rule for lost or stray dogs is, if the dog approaches you first never reach for the dog!! The dog must touch you first before you make any movement to touch the dog back. We usually wait until it happens a few times before we would try to grab a collar or put a leash on the dog. That way the dog has trust with you. If you try and reach when the dog gets close you will chase it away.
How can you help in the right way?
For Lost Pet Owners:
The first thing you must do as an owner of a lost pet is to try and remain calm. We understand you are in panic mode, but so is your dog. They have just started an adventure out into a world they may not be familiar with and it is scary for them too. For lost dogs it is FIGHT or FLIGHT, most will choose flight. They are going to run, they do not take the time and say to themselves you’re their Mom or Dad, but to them at that moment, you are a PREDATOR. This is one of the hardest concepts to understand as a lost dog owner. Most in our experience must see their dog’s response of running away from them to finally understand this concept.
If your dog is still in sight after running away, please do the following:
- Slowly get low or lay flat on the ground
- Avoid eye contact
- Speak softly with a calm voice
- Do not reach for your dog, if it comes close let your dog touch you first, for some that are very skittish we will let them touch us multiple times. If you reach, the dog may run away.
Give your dog time to recognize your voice or your smell.
Secondly, you start LURING your dog back to you. It is important that you move slowly and use techniques like “Calming Signals”. Below is a video on Calming Signals, so you better understand what we mean.
If your dog runs away from you, let it. You need to give the impression they are not being chased. Dogs will find comfort in wooded areas and in most cases may gravitate near water during their journey. Next, you must immediately put out smelly, wet canned dog food or something with gravy. This type of food carries the most smell and will help lure the dog back home or back to your location. Other items that are smelly are Deli meats, Liquid smoke, Worcestershire sauce, canned cat food, fried chicken (please remove from bones).
Also, try putting out dirty laundry or dog beds, this will keep familiar scents outside your house or in the location they went missing for the dog to smell.
If I can’t chase a lost /stray dog, what can I do?
If you are a pet owner, police, or just someone trying to help the family of a lost dog and you are driving behind or following a dog around in your car, you are chasing the dog. You simply cannot speed around after a roaming dog and expect to capture it. The dog will run further and faster the harder you speed after it. Police do this to hunt down a criminal, but it does not work that way for lost or stray dogs.
- Most importantly stay calm
- Take a photo of the dog only if you can do so without alarming the dog
- Note the location( Nearest house number or business address)
- Note the direction of travel
- Check Facebook for lost dog posts matching the description of the dog
- Contact local animal shelters and police
- Never post sightings publically on social media. Please message post author or page/group directly.
Lure a Dog, Do Not Chase a Dog!!
In lost pet recovery we learn how to lure the dog to us instead of going after it. Think of it this way, if someone twice your size and you didn’t know was running after you are going to run towards the person or away? I think most of us would run away. One of the best methods to lure a lost or stray dog is using Calming Techniques. Below is a video from our mentor and friend Kat Albrecht founder of Missing Animal Response Network. She will demonstrate what not to do and how the Calming Techniques work. Ultimately if you are unsure please contact us for help.
Don’t Call Your Dog!
Why You Should NOT Call A Stray / Loose Dog
We know. It sound’s crazy-stupid to say “Don’t Call Your Dog!” after your dog has escaped and is running loose (or when you encounter a stray dog). You’re probably thinking, “But he always comes to me when I call him” or “So HOW will I get the dog to come to me if I see him but I can’t call him?” The answer is BY CALMING HIM and ATTRACTING HIM to come to you.
Dogs can sense the anxiety in your voice and will think they are in trouble, this will cause them to run away from you. If you say anything to them, make sure you do it calmly.