Why do dogs go missing? Reasons and precautions

22 August 2018

Missing dog! Something we fear to hear. We’d do anything to keep our dogs happy, healthy, and by our sides! But sometimes, disaster can strike. With many owners struggling with episodes of their dogs going missing.

tips for missing dog

Missing dog! Something we fear to hear. We’d do anything to keep our dogs happy, healthy, and by our sides! But sometimes, disaster can strike. Many pet parents struggle with episodes of their dogs going missing. If you’ve been in this situation you know that nothing can prepare you for it. The worry and what-if’s that run through your mind when your missing dog is on the loose are just unbearable. So what can you do to avoid this worst-case scenario?

Missing dog? Here’s why

Is your dog normally a loyal companion? This fact can easily change if your dog is facing one of these six everyday situations:

1. Unfamiliar Surroundings

Mostly during vacations, the risk of your dog running away definitely increases. New surroundings, smells and distractions can easily cause your dog to go and explore the area and get lost.

2. In heat

Whether you own a dog or a bitch, both sexes have a strong instinct to reproduce. If your bitch is in heat, she may, unfortunately, try to get out and find herself a Prince Charming. I have had this happen, with my dog showing up five miles from home. Luckily, a neighboring farmer spotted her and gave us a call; I dread to think about what may have happened if that weren’t the case! We ended up with a litter of puppies, and a hefty bill for putting in better fencing!

missing dog infographic

3. Fear

Just like humans, every dog has his or her own personality. Some are more courageous, others are more fearful. Does your dog get easily scared by every little thing? This behavior can also be the result of their very sharp sense of hearing. Compared to us humans, dogs have different frequency ranges and therefore, they are more sensitive to (and prone to reacting to) noises.

Facts check: A dog is able to hear tones of ca. 15 bis 50.000 vibrations per second.

Humans only acknowledge vibrations of ca. 20 until 20.000 per second. In addition, the ear conches of your furry friend are very mobile. That way, your dog is able to locate in a very targeted way.

4. Fireworks

Imagine how you would feel in this situation: Your sense of hearing is very sharp (as described above) and in your area, there is suddenly thunder and bright lights? We, humans, are used to the fact that fireworks don’t represent a danger, but how does your dog feel?

Fireworks are one of the most common reasons why dogs run away.

Fireworks are an unpredictable happening for your dog. Furthermore, very often when this happens, dogs are home alone or in the companion of strangers and your fluffy friend has to face this new situation all by himself.

Your dog will either try to hide and search for shelter, or he might run away. Both outcomes lead to your dog going missing. Do you really want to take the risk of losing your dog, maybe on New Year’s Eve? Discover the best 6 tips on how to keep your four-legged friend safe during New Year’s celebrations.

5. Hunting instinct

Every dog has a hunting instinct in his blood. Some of them are more inclined to following this instinct and others not so much. Nevertheless, this genetic inclination can be very challenging for dog parents, especially during autumn. During this season, the presence of wild animals poses a higher risk on your four-legged friend. Your dog can easily pick up the scent of a wild animal and try to chase it. Due to an uncontrollable hunting instinct, your dog might easily run away and go missing.

Your dog can track the scent of a wild animal within seconds.

Dogs possess many more olfactory cells than we do as humans. Depending on the breed, the differences can be big.

Rule of thumb: The longer the snout, the better the olfactory scent of your dog.

Dogs have approx. 7.000 mm² of space in the brain for smelling, that represents almost 10% of their entire brain capacity. Compared to them, we only have 500mm², representing only 1% of our brain capacity.

The absorbed information is immediately forwarded to the limbic system, the one responsible for instincts and hormones.

Plus: Why do dogs hunt?

In the past, dogs use to hunt mostly for survival reasons. Nowadays, this is not a necessity anymore, since most dogs receive their daily food portion comfortably right under their nose. The most common reasons for hunting are:

  1. Dog breed: Your dog belongs to a breed type that’s specially trained for hunting
  2. Fun: Hunting may just be a fun activity for your dog, since adrenaline and happiness hormones are released during hunting

Good to know: Among the happiness hormones, there is Dopamine, Noradrenaline, Serotonin and Endorphins. These are the hormones also experienced by humans when they’re in love.

Therefore, your dog finds himself on cloud 9 and can easily get overwhelmed by all these hormones. Due to this, even the most well-trained dog can transform into a little hunter. The hunting instinct can be un-learned of course, at least in a big measure. Still, this needs a lot of training and time.

6. Boredom

The most common cause of dogs running away is boredom. With very smart dog breeds being the most likely suspects! It starts out with them wanting to get to that squirrel over there. Or go down the road to play with the neighborhood kids. But then, it’s easy for them to get lost.

missing dog reasons and precautions

Missing dog: How to stop it?

1.GPS tracking device

The safe and easy way to always know where your dog is, is a tracking device with GPS. The way this functions is to attach the GPS tracking device to your dog’s collar and you can start tracking your dog directly on your smartphone, in real time. With a GPS tracking device, you also have the possibility to set a predetermined safe zone, for example, your house or garden. Should your dog leave this safe zone, you will immediately get a notification on your smartphone. With a Tractive GPS device, you can always keep your dog in sight and know the location of your beloved furry friend, comfortable on your smartphone. Tractive – the digital leash for all scenarios.

Discover Tractive GPS now

2.Better fencing

Your first line of defense is your fence. Dog owners should ideally erect wooden panel fencing. Cemented into, or buried into the ground to avoid any breakouts.


With many dogs going missing due to boredom, increasing the security alone is not enough. Making your dog’s play area entertaining is the way to fix the problem, not mask the symptom. Spending more time playing with your dog, and tiring him out is a great place to start. Other ideas include hiding balls, and placing treat dispensing toys around the yard. For some dogs, you may need to invest in a pet sitter to keep them company.

The verdict

Even the best-behaved dogs in the world can run away. Nobody wants to deal with a missing, or worse, a missing and injured dog. As responsible dog owners, we should be aware of the risks of missing a dog, and have safety precautions in place to make sure that they’re less likely to happen. Or, if it does, that we have the necessary tools to rectify the situation immediately.

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