Colt’s Story


One of the things that we have worked hard on at Lost Dogs of Wisconsin is to provide free, accessible information and tips on this website about how to find a scared, lost dog.  These articles are available 24/7 to anyone who might need them, no matter where in the world they may live.  Our website continues to help people, even when we are sleeping!

That is why we are thrilled to share Colt’s story with you, a dog who was lost not in Wisconsin, but in Ontario, Canada, whose owners spent time reading through the articles on our website and used that information to help bring Colt home.

Colt is a Rat Terrier who had only been in his newly adoptive home for a month.  Here is an excerpt from the first message we received from his owners, Tracy and Albert:

“I have been reading whatever I can of yours in between searching for our dog.  We have  had our dog for only a month. He got loose and we are on day four.  Of course we did things wrong. We called out to him and I think it drove him off.  My daughter caught sight of him on day two but nothing since.  We have distributed flyers far and wide and went door to door.  We live in Northern Ontario, Canada and have vast tracks of bush and forest. “

Just a day later we received the following message.  “I want to thank your site for the information.  My husband and I did everything you said.  We got Colt back tonight.  We had a tip and were able to be in the area quickly.  My husband saw him come out of the bush.  He left his truck and got down on the road.  He opened some sardines and drew Colt in.  Best Saturday night ever!! Thank you for your quick response.  From a grateful Canadian!”

Albert made this map of Colt’s adventure which shows how far of an area he travelled.  Keeping detailed notes and mapping sightings can really help, especially if the search for a missing dog goes on for more than a few days.  You may see a pattern start to emerge and it may give you the opportunity to get ahead of your dog instead of always being behind him.


Colt showed classic scared dog behavior during those several days he was missing.  One of our hardest tasks at Lost Dogs of Wisconsin is to convince owners that their own dog may not readily come to them.  Sitting down on the ground, not making eye contact, and throwing out tasty, smelly treats behind them can help lure a dog in.  Using sardines for Colt was a great idea!  It is easy to keep a tin of them handy if you get a sighting. Sometimes a humane trap is necessary, but often it isn’t. Once the dog creeps close enough to get a treat, he may recognize the smell of his owner and the lightbulb may go on in his head as it did for Colt.

Welcome home, Colt!  We are so happy that we were able to play a small part in your reunion!  35886965_10155790509537075_2309885861929418752_n


Posted in Reunion Stories, Shy Lost Dog Strategies

How Are We Doing? Year to Date June 2018

LDOW stats June 2018

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Is Your Dog Missing From Fireworks?


36919780_10156452718206241_6682815679164317696_nIf your dog went missing over the July 4th week, and still hasn’t been found, you may be feeling desperate. Here are a few tips. Dogs that are lost from stressful situations like fireworks will quickly go into “survival” mode – avoiding all humans, even their owners. This is normal. Don’t panic, don’t allow people to search for your dog and please don’t offer a reward.

Rewards encourage people to chase an already scared lost dog which may make them bolt into traffic or cause them to leave the flyered area. Don’t hire a tracking dog service. They also increase the pressure on a scared dog and may drive him further away.

Instead, pretend that you are trying to catch a chipmunk. Would you chase a chipmunk through the woods? No, or course not. You would sit on the ground and patiently hold out a peanut. Change your strategy from “searching” to “luring”. Once the pressure is off and the dog is allowed to relax, he/she will come out of hiding in search of food. Ask your family and friends to help you flyer until you get a sighting. Then you can begin to implement a plan to catch him safely.

Posted in Fireworks, Shy Lost Dog Strategies | Tagged

Did Your Dog Go Missing From Fireworks?



We have taken in 45 lost and found dog reports in Wisconsin since yesterday morning, July 4th. Many of the lost dogs will be reunited quickly if everyone reminds people to not chase, call or whistle to the dog if they see him/her.

Dogs lost from stressful situations like fireworks will usually bolt, but usually don’t go very far unless they are being chased or pressured.  Many times they will hide and may remain in hiding for several hours or days.  Once they feel safe and things have quieted down, these dogs may try to return to the area where they went missing.

If your dog went missing last night- don’t panic.  Immediately put out your dog’s favorite blanket or bed, some smelly food and fresh water, and something that smells like the person the dog is most bonded to (like a dirty sock, t-shirt or pillowcase).  Then file a report with us from this link:

Our volunteer flyer processors will make a flyer and share it to our Facebook page and email you printable versions. Check your email! Print out your flyers and distribute them door to door in your neighborhood and remind everyone to not call or chase your dog but instead to phone you immediately if they see him.

Do not get scammed by fee-based services! They will take your credit card number and begin to charge you if you do not “opt out”. We are an entirely FREE service run by volunteers around the state and we can help you spread the word about your missing pet more effectively than “boosting” a post.

Posted in Fireworks, Shy Lost Dog Strategies | Tagged ,

No Sightings During Hot Weather? No Worries!


It’s hot outside! Don’t be alarmed if you don’t get any sightings of your missing dog during this hot spell. They will hunker down and may not be seen until the weather cools off a bit or they may only come out in the evening to search for food and water.

Continue to put out food, water, your dog’s blanket and bed and your articles of dirty clothing or pillowcase. Don’t give up just because you aren’t getting any sightings!

Spend time  during the hot weather to make effective intersection signs and print more flyers.  Continue to expand your flyering radius.   Check our website for more articles that may help in your search.  Search the categories in the right hand side bar of this page. Your dog is relying on YOU to bring him safely home.


Posted in Generating Sightings | Tagged ,

Sully Makes the Long Journey Home

34556351_10155657804183364_2436561953775157248_nLast weekend Lost Dogs of Wisconsin volunteers created a chain transport to return Sully, a 5 year old American Bulldog back to his home in Sawyer County, Wisconsin. He had been found and taken by vacationers almost seven hours away to Illinois.

If you are travelling this summer and find a dog please do NOT take him away from the area where you found him. Even if you have good intentions you are seriously reducing the chance that the dog will ever be reunited with his owner. Financial or logistical problems may prevent a reunion even IF the owner can figure out where you took their dog. Instead, take the dog to the correct animal control facility for where he was found. That is the best chance for a happy reunion. Deliver flers in the area where you found the dog to increase the odds even more. Put yourself in the owner’s shoes. Would you want your lost dog transported hundreds of miles away?

Create your free flyers and social media links for the found dog with our partner Helping Lost Pets

Posted in Uncategorized

Distributing Flyers is the Number One Way Lost Dogs are Found


When a dog goes missing, the first reaction of most people is to rush out and search for the dog, calling his/her name and combing the area.  Even though it may seem counterintuitive, you should not send your friends and family members on a wild goose chase, or in this case a wild dog chase, through the streets.  Looking for a lost dog by wandering or driving through the streets and neighborhoods is like looking for a needle in a haystack.  And, a dog who is approached by someone he/she doesn’t know well may get scared and run even farther from home, or worse yet, into traffic.

Instead, ask your family and friends to help you distribute flyers.  Create your free flyer from our software partner, Helping Lost Pets, print out a stack of them and ask your helpers to get busy spreading the word that your dog is missing.  Start nearest to the location to where your dog was last seen and expand the radius outward. The photo on your flyer should be a clear, full body shot of your dog.  You have a good photo of your dog stored on your phone don’t you?  If not, do that TODAY, in case your dog goes missing tomorrow.   Helping Lost Pets allows you to create several different versions of your flyer so that you can reduce printing costs, or incorporate pull-off tabs with your phone number on them.  You can even create flyers in different languages from the Helping Lost Pets website.

In our experience, the number one way that lost dogs are found is by generating sightings through the distribution of flyers.  More often than not, a dog is reunited with their family because someone has reviewed a flyer sees the lost pet, and calls the dog’s owners.

Don’t Chase or Search! Instead use flyers to generate that ONE sighting you need to help bring your dog home.

Posted in Sightings | Tagged , ,

Tips for Dogs Lost From Car Accidents

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It’s a terrifying thought. You are on an outing with your dog, enjoying the day, and all of a sudden your world is turned upside down because you have been involved in a car accident and your dog has been thrown from the vehicle.  Sadly, it is a fairly common occurance.  But there is hope!  This article will give you some tips on what we have learned from our experience regarding the best way to recover a dog lost from a car crash.

Due to the trauma of the crash, these dogs immediately fall into our “Shy Dog” profile and will generally behave as a shy, fearful dog, even though they may have a friendly personality. Dogs lost from car accidents are usually quite predictable in their actions and can be successfully recovered if everyone who is helping the owner understands lost dog behavior and agrees to follow some guidelines. Unfortunately, sometimes the owner is in the hospital and is unable to assist in the recovery.  Without strong, educated leadership from the volunteers helping, the recovery efforts can swiftly go off course.

The first thing to remember is that dogs lost from car accidents do not usually venture far from the scene of the crash. They may bolt at first but then they usually hide and may creep back to the crash location shortly after the accident (often the first night).  OR they may go further afield but then circle back around to the crash site in the upcoming days.

Use scent articles (the dog’s bed, toys and dirty articles of the owner’s clothing or bed sheets). This will help will keep the dog in the area.  Place them near the crash site but well away from the road along with smelly, tasty food and water.

RULE NUMBER ONE*:  Never call, chase, whistle, pressure or pursue a scared lost dog.  You risk chasing him away from the area and possibly into traffic, endangering his life.  The most frequent mistake we see is well-meaning but uninformed Good Samaritans who want to jump in to help but do all of the wrong things, including bringing large groups of people (search parties) or strange dogs, ATV’s, horses, drones, etc. to the site of the crash.  This invariably drives the dog out of the area, requiring the owner or the volunteers to flyer an ever expanding radius.

Sometimes there are people who wish to profit off the situation and will offer services for a fee. Make absolutely sure they are knowledgable and reputable before enlisting them. Make sure that they aren’t going to do any of the things listed above (tracking dogs, drones, etc.) It may be wiser to avoid fee-based services altogether because it can be difficult to do the due diligence required to check them out during this stressful time.

Generating Sightings

Instead of “searching”, volunteers should be enlisted to quickly print and deliver flyers or do driveway drops in the surrounding neighborhoods to try to generate sightings in case the dog does not quickly return to the crash site.

Make sure there is a reminder on the flyer that people should not call or chase the dog. They should simply call the number on the flyer immediately.    The greatest risk to a shy lost dog is that he will be chased into traffic and killed. The second greatest risk to a shy lost dog is that he will be chased into a body of water or onto thin ice and will drown. Do not offer a reward for your missing dog (click here for more info) .  Rewards encourage people to chase the dog and can lead to the problems mentioned above.

Unfortunately, flyering is not as emotionally rewarding as trying to catch the dog, and the volunteers recruited to flyer may lose interest quickly and disappear. If the owner lives far away, or is in the hospital, they may be unable to flyer themselves and they may give up due to logistical or financial reasons.  Social media is wonderful but hand delivering flyers door to door in the area where the dog is missing is the Number One way that lost dogs are found. Posting flyers on bulletin boards and utility poles is not enough and may be illegal.  Affixing flyers to poles is dangerous to the utility workers.

Intersection signs are also very useful to alert passing motorists about the missing dog.  Remember to get permission before using intersection signs or you may be disappointed when they are taken down because they violate municipal ordinances or home owners’ association rules.

If you live outside the area, and your volunteer helpers are unwilling to do the hard work of door to door flyering, you may need to use a service such as the United State’s Postal Service Every Door Direct Mail.  Read more here.  There are other services available also, such as Pet Harbor’s Postcard service.  Details are here. Robo-calling services, although very useful in years past, have diminshed in effectiveness because of the increased use of cell phones and the decreased use of landlines. We no longer feel they are an effective way to get the word out.  People also tend to ignore voicemail messages that they perceive to be spam.

What if I See the Dog? 

If you see the dog, immediately sit on the ground facing away from him and toss a few tasty treats behind you.  Do not make eye contact and speak softly or not at all.  It may take a few minutes, or a few hours, but the dog may approach you. They will usually approach from behind. Most people give up too soon and then stand up and start walking towards the dog and chase them away.  Be patient! But if he doesn’t approach and you have to leave, put a few treats on the ground and leave the area without looking at the dog.  Allowing him to settle and relax is a far better strategy than trying to chase him.  Lost dogs that aren’t being chased will make wise decisions and may survive indefinitely.

When is Too Much Media Coverage Too Much of a Good Thing? 

Car crash lost dog cases elicit a lot of sympathy from the public, social media and traditional media.   Unfortunately this can work against your efforts.  Highly publicized lost dog cases often backfire. Too much media can be detrimental to your lost dog search because the additional pressure from the public can chase your dog out of the flyered area or worse yet, into the path of traffic. The dog may also become nocturnal resulting in fewer sightings. Read more here.

Be patient. Dogs lost from car accidents may hunker down for a day or two and then creep back to the site of the crash – lured by the tasty food and scent items you left.

Please read through the rest of our articles on Shy Lost Dog Strategies and Humane Trapping.  Never give up!  Your lost dog is counting on you to bring him safely home.

*The only exception to this rule may be when you know the dog has been seriously injured in the crash. Only in this circumstance should a shoulder to shoulder grid search be used to search for the injured dog who may be hunkered down and hiding. Unfortunately, shoulder to shoulder grid searches are usually improperly done and the hiding hurt dog is not found because the walking searchers were too widely spaced.

Annie, the dog featured in the photo above was successfully recovered after being lost from a truck roll over in Wisconsin.  Read the owner’s story here.

Our tips, ideas and articles are based on information gathered from thousands of successful lost dog recoveries. Any advice or suggestions made by Lost Dogs of Wisconsin/Lost Dogs Illinois is not paid-for professional advice and should be taken at owner’s discretion.

Posted in Shy Lost Dog Strategies | Tagged

How Are We Doing? Year to Date March 2018

ldow march 2018

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How Are We Doing? Year to Date February 2018

ldow feb 2018

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