Lost Dog Search & Rescue

Lost Dog Search Team

How to search the woods for a lost dog

If your dog ran off and ran into the New Jersey Pine Barrens or a large wooded area this is what you need to do and what you need to bring to have a safe search. The Pine Barrens can be a dangerous place to walk through it has winding paths that branch off quite often and it is very easy to become disorientated and lost so its very important that you NEVER enter the woods by yourself, go with a group of people and take a GPS or Tracking Device with you to keep a record of your path. I find the best thing is a smart phone with a tracking app. which can be downloaded for free from your app store. Track you hike so you can find your way back to your car and save it so you can view what area you have covered. If you have the opportunity to do so, plan your search a head of time. While your home Download Google Earth from your computer and check out the area you will be searching. You will be able to get an overhead view and see the trails in advance. If you have enough volunteers you can split up when the trails fork off but always have a minimum of at least 2 people per group. If you do not have Walkie-Talkies for each team make sure everyone has a cell phone with a list of each others phone numbers along with the phone number of the local police so incase theirs trouble you wont have to fumble for a number. Wear bright colored clothes and spray yourself with a flea and tick repellent (get one with deet, most sporting good stores and Walmart stores carry them) Also be aware that the Pine Barrens do have Coyote populations and they can be dangerous if they feel like your a threat to them. More then likely they will try to run away but if they don't, remember this - they travel in packs, if you see one in front of you you can be assured that there are many more behind you waiting to attack, this is one of the reasons you should never travel alone in the Pines. If this situation does arise then stand back to back and wave your arms and stomp your feet and make as much noise as possible to frighten them off. Do not think that the dog your looking for will join the pack (Please Read This about Coyotes). The Coyotes will see the dog as a threat and attack it but don't worry chances are you will not come across any Coyotes. Another note of interest even though dogs were bread down from wolves they will not hunt and kill for food, they are domesticated and rely on humans and scavenge for their food. Dogs will kill other animals but not for food they will kill to protect themselves when they feel threatened and will kill due to aggression. With all that being said these are the items you need to take with you in your search:   

Back Pack - to carry the following items:

  • Blanket - in case you come across your pet and they are unable to walk they can be carried or dragged out of the area

  • Towel - in case your pet is wet or injured they can be cleaned and wrapped up.

  • First Aid Kit - self explanatory

  • Bottled Water - take a couple of bottles, one for you and one for your pet (do not give your pet too much water or food till they are checked out by a Vet.)

  • Collapsible Water Bowl -  Its cheap and easier to carry

  • Dog Treats - to entice your hungry, lost pet (don't worry if your dog does not accept your offering, some dogs, when scared will not eat or drink)

  • Rope - In case your dog is in a deep area and needs to be hoisted out (I have a Dollar Store 50' nylon rope, it will do the job)

  • Hunting Knife - to cut through high growth area or if your dog is tangled up.

  • Communication device - Either a cell phone or walkie-talkies to keep in touch with each other. Keep this handy!

  • Bug Repellent - self explanatory.

  • Binoculars -  when you can use them, they give you an advantage in the search.

  • Pepper Spray - keep this handy just in case your attacked.

  • Trail Camera - If you see a spot with dog tracks and think your dog is frequenting that location you can set up the trail camera and come back at a later time to see what's making the prints.

  • Extra Leashes - keep this handy in case you spot your dog

  • Squeaker -  You can get this out of an old dog toy. if your dog has toys with squeakers in them the squeaker is a familiar sound and most dogs will come to investigate the sound. Please see How to Approach a Fearful Dog so you don't drive your pet deeper into the woods if they get scared.

  • Flashlight - if it becomes dark before you are able to get out of the woods or if you see something like a drainage pipe where dogs like to hide.


Just remember Its better to be safe then to be sorry, Do not take short cuts on your safety!


After you find your dog get to your Vet or emergency Vet  Hospital ASAP, its a good idea before you start your search to locate an Emergency Vet Hospital in your area just in case your Vet is closed or busy. When out for a few days dogs will dehydrate very easy and eat anything and everything they can to stay alive. Even with flea and tick medication they will be infested. Giving your dog too much water and food can do more harm then good so get to a Vet and follow their instructions. 

One last note:

If you purchase any of the above items and are no longer in need of them after your pet is recovered you can donate them to other search groups to help find other dogs.

Good Luck! and feel free to contact us with any questions you may have


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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