Three Things You Should Immediately Do When You Find a Lost Dog

It can be worrying when you spot a lost dog wandering around on a busy road.

If you want to help, you need to know exactly how to handle this situation to avoid making it worse and scaring the dog even more.

You won’t know the dog’s name, temperament or recall ability.

The likelihood is that the lost dog will already be on high alert and be feeling nervous or scared as they are not in their familiar environment.

Therefore, you need to be extremely cautious both for your safety, and theirs. 

Here are some tips for you to follow the next time you see a lost dog.



Step One: Decide Whether the Dog is Safe to Approach

Whether you should approach a dog will depend on their body language, and how they react to you when you try to get close to them.

Never put yourself in any danger, if the dog is behaving aggressively then maintain a safe distance and skip straight to step three. 

How do you know whether the dog is safe to approach though? Here are some signs that the dog is unapproachable:

  • He has his heckles raised
  • He is baring his teeth 
  • He is growling

If the dog does look safe to approach, you should approach him calmly, speaking to him in a gentle voice, especially if he is frightened. 

Step Two: Safely Contain the Dog 

If you’ve decided that the dog is safe to approach and isn’t showing any aggressive tendencies, you’ll need to approach him calmly. 

Turning your body sideways can help to make you seem less threatening and intimidating. If you have dogs of your own, you might be able to offer him a treat to make him feel at ease. 

Once you’ve managed to reach the dog, pet him gently and take hold of his collar. If you are able to, attach a leash, or move him to a fenced in area to keep him safe.

Some dogs like jumping into cars, so you could try and open your car door and say in a happy voice ‘car ride!’

If the dog runs away, don’t try and chase him. His could scare him, and he might run out into a road and put himself into even more danger. 

Top Tips 

  • Don’t allow the lost dog close contact with any of your pets. You don’t know how they might react or whether they are up to date with any vaccinations. 
  • If the dog is injured, take them straight to a veterinarian.
  • Give them a bowl of water. 

Step Three: Call the Relevant Person 

If you can’t see any ID tags, or if the dog doesn’t look safe to approach, you should call the authorities. If your community has animal control, you can call them, or try your local police or sheriff’s department. Local animal shelters may also be able to help. Give them the last location of where you saw the dog.

It might be helpful if you stay close by, but a safe distance away so you can help the authorities to locate and find the dog. 

If the dog is wearing an ID tag with the number for their vet or owner, then you should call them and see how they would like to proceed. 

If you are not able to get in touch with them, and the dog is content with you then you might consider keeping hold of them for a few hours until the owner gets in touch with you. 

They might ask that you bring the dog to their address, or they might prefer to come to you and collect their pet. 


As much as you probably want to help the lost dog that you’ve found, you need to make sure that it is safe to do so first. 

Never approach an aggressive dog, and if at any point the dog shows aggression, retreat back and call the local authorities. They are trained and skilled in helping lost dogs in the best way possible. 

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  • Dimple J
    Yes Great Ideas already shared. You can certainly Contact local animal shelters and animal control agencies for help

    Laura Acton