Lost Dog Search & Rescue

How to Prevent Escapes

Thousands of dogs are lost every year. Thankfully, many are found. What can you do to make sure you and your pet enjoy a speedy reunion?


The #1 way to help deter your dog from escaping beside a good training program is WALKING YOUR DOG. Dogs NEED to walk on a daily basis, its in their genes to travel and if you do not provide this activity your dog will walk himself as soon as the opportunity arises and sooner or later that opportunity will arise and don't think that your dog wont bolt out of the house because that is the most common thing we hear " I cant understand it, My dog never did that before" well guess what? that's just because your dog never had the right stimulus to set his wheels in motion and you have been lucky up until now. ANY dog will take off given the right conditions.

 A dog needs more then food, water, shelter and love to fulfill their needs they also need that daily walk. If you do not walk your dog you are not fulfilling one of those basic needs. Letting your dog out in the back yard does not constitute exercise, even if he is running the fence with the neighbors dog all he is doing is showing his frustration (just take a look at your dog while he is frantically running, barking and biting at the fence and ask yourself if that's what a balanced & content dog does) plus all your doing is creating a bad habit for your dog. If you don't like walking or cant walk him then either hire a local dog walker or take a trip to the dog park. The dog park can help by providing a great social environment for your dog and a place to play and get the much needed exercise your pet needs.


Despite their love for their families, most dogs -- given the right opportunity -- can't wait to escape. Why not? There are all kinds of exciting things that induce a dog to bolt, if only for an adventure or the thought of a good chase of the deliveryman, the neighbor's cat or a passing squirrel. An open door is an invitation throughout the life of the dog.

The most common ways a dog can escape a home include:

* Through an improperly latched door that blew open with a gust of wind or didn't close properly (so be sure to close doors all the way and repair doors and locks as needed);
* Through an open window or flimsy door or window screen on any floor of the house;
* Through a fence gate left open by children, trash collector or meter reader; or
* Over or under a fence when the right stimulus presents itself (typically something to chase or a neighbor's dog or cat).

Although the risk of flight is high at the time of adoption, owners should not relax as time goes on! Examples of when an potential escape moments throughout the life of the dog include children's/adult parties or visits, holidays, and construction, repair or delivery to the home. In short, an escape can happen on a normal day or special occasion when an owners attention is diverted for a second.

  • First, make sure your dog is always wearing an ID with your up-to-date phone numbers and address. More and more people are using microchips to ID their dogs, and some use tattoos. However, it is still wise to keep a collar ID on dogs as well.
  • What can you do if you're expecting visitors? The easiest thing is to safely contain the dog in his dog crate or in a separate room. 
  • You can teach older children to hold a dog's collar and to put a dog in a sit/stay position at the first sign of entry or exit from the home. Children understand the concept of a protecting a baby brother or sister; and they will be able to think about the dog's safety in some ways. However, adults must not expect a child can hold a dog back if the dog wants to run.
  • People presume that older dogs will not escape. In many respects, senior animals are just as much at risk, due to diminished senses. Older dogs have been known to wander off. Often they are so quiet that they are not missed right away.

Many people feel a dog will understand the home's or neighborhood's boundaries or the risk of a car in its path. However, most dogs run with wild abandon, and will travel farther and more quickly than you'd imagine. Dogs do not differentiate between a dirt path, driveway and a multi-lane highway, and they have no concept of danger. We hear of fortunate few returned dogs who wandered miles within a few hours. Most likely, dogs who escape and have time to travel will not be found or returned. The longer the absence is not noted, the less likely the dog will be found.

If you travel with your pet, "pit stops" are risky. So are campgrounds or vacation homes. If you're not sure about the use of training collars, double-leash your dog using a halter with an ID tag with your numbers on it. (It really helps to have a cell phone, and to list that number on the ID tag.) Please be aware that dogs can back out of a cloth collar even if snug against the neck!

If you leave your dog with a pet sitter or relative, please review your routines and safety practices.

Make sure you have posters and contact information ready whether you take your dog or leave him behind. It takes a second for your dog to escape. Keep in mind shelters have only a limited number of days to hold animals before they are euthanized to allow room for other strays.

There is no safe time for off-leash walking, but that's particularly true when in a strange place. Many dogs are lost each year when people let their dogs off-leash while hiking or at the beach. The dog does not know where he is and has less or no familiarity with the site. Don't fall for the concept that dogs seek freedom to explore. Sure, the dog may enjoy the freedom -- but he could get hurt, get in a fight with another animal, jump on or injure a passerby who may even decide to sue you. And you may never see your dog again.

What should you do when your dog escapes? The best thing is to be prepared NOW. Create a poster or flyer with the dog's photo, his name and your phone numbers including mention of a reward. If your dog is lost, distribute it door-to-door and post wherever possible. Also have the name of local animal control and humane society phone numbers handy to give a family member, friend or neighbor to call while you search.

Animal Abuse Hotline: 1-800-582-5979

We are a non-profit group covering the following areas of Ocean County N.J.: Toms River, Beachwood, Bayville, Ocean Gate, Pine Beach, Whiting, Manchester Township, Parts of Lacey Township and Lanoka Harbor, Forked River and most Surrounding Toms River Areas and all rewards or donations we receive will go toward up-grading our equipment so we can search with more efficiency and the remainder of funds will go to a no kill rescue and adoption shelter, donated in your pets name.

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