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A blog might have maps of sightings, contact information, and perhaps a list of calming signals. Most phones today have a function for taking voice notes.

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Many people want to get out and look, not spend a lot of time writing things down. If just one bit of information is not available to you at a critical moment, you will not have saved any time at all by failing to keep good records in writing, and in text messages, emails, and voice notes. You could dramatically reduce the chances of finding your dog if you skip the step of recording potentially useful information. If you make handwritten notes, snap a photo of them with your cell phone and email the picture to yourself.

Take a few minutes to make sure you are properly equipped before you go out the door. I have seen hundreds of people in the process of looking for their lost dogs, and I have seen many ways they put themselves at risk without increasing their chances of finding their dogs. Fortunately, I have not witnessed anyone being seriously hurt because of their lack of attention to safety, but I have seen some close calls.

Because you are under duress, take a moment to remind yourself of simple ways you can stay safe. I have seen this many times. Be sure to get permission before you go looking. Most people will gladly give you permission, and help you look.

How to Get Your Dog Involved with Search & Rescue

I have been bitten several times while finding and catching lost dogs. In each case, I could probably have taken a different approach and still caught the dog without the bite. In most cases, money paid for search services does NOT guarantee your dog will be found. It is important you understand that up front. May take thirty minutes to an hour.

Three Retrievers' Guide to Finding Your Lost Dog

Two hours if you have to go to the library to do this. You were probably going to do this anyway. Make sure you make the most effective fliers. All your fliers should have one contact number. Think about this for a moment before choosing the number. Ideally, it will be your cell phone that you have with you at all times.

Will you be able to keep it charged when you are out looking? Will you lose reception? Will you be unable to answer calls while you are at work? Pick the best number for a search that could last days or weeks. The flier should have some simple information at the top in a large font, to get the basics across quickly. You can have detailed information, if you think it will help, but hit the key points first.

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Most people who read your flier will have a limited amount of time and attention, and you want to make it as easy as possible for them to help. Have dates on the flier, so people know if they are looking for a dog that escaped yesterday or last month. If they saw a dog that looks like yours, but they saw the dog before yours even escaped, they will know not to call you and waste your time. If possible, tell people how to find your web page or Facebook page about your dog.

If you have a web page or blog dedicated to the search, you can make it easy for people to find it by giving them a QR code or bar code to scan with their smart phones.

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For one thing, there are several ways to do it. If you have a web page or blog about the search, your fliers might be out of date, but potential finders can find current information on the web at any time. For example, your fliers might say the most recent sighting was at the park on 16th Avenue, but your web page can tell people that the new recent sighting was ten blocks away, so they should be focusing their search efforts there. Another way to make sure people have the best information is to ask them to take a picture of your flier.

I am always pulling over and snapping pictures of fliers on telephone poles, just in case I see the dog.

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If a person who reads your flier takes a picture with his cell phone, he will have your phone number and a picture of the dog with him at all times. The picture of your dog should be simple and clear. You may have pictures of your dog at Christmas or Halloween, with a funny hat, upside down, or with a cute expression.

How To Find Your Lost Dog

Resist the urge to use these pictures. You want the clearest, cleanest, most simple picture that shows people how your dog looks. There is probably a picture on the internet that looks almost identical to your dog. You may wish to make a note that the picture is not your dog, but just a representative illustration. You could also say, on the flier, if your dog has a distinctive spot, a limp, or a spot on his tongue. Tell them to just call you immediately while they keep an eye on your dog. I have seen no evidence that large rewards increase the odds your dog will make it home.

I have seen that large rewards bring out the kind of person who wants to take advantage of people in distress. Also, there is some evidence that large rewards for missing dogs have inspired people to steal small dogs in order to claim the reward. Ask people to snap a picture of your dog, if possible.

Almost everyone has a camera phone these days. Below is a link to an example of how I would make a flier if my dog were missing. If your dog is black, or white, or black and white, you may choose not to have color copies. For any dog with a bit of color, color copies could prove vital.

Remember that fliers are not nearly as effective as large neon posters, but they are cheap, easy, and quick. Fliers do solve cases.

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Certainly, having fliers is more effective than not having them. The following is a list of people who should have a copy of your flier. The trash collectors and the milk man. The grocery store.

Takes an hour or two. NEOmarkers by Neoplex work best for this, although you may have to order them on line, which is inconvenient when you are in a hurry. In Seattle, you can buy them at a police supply store called Blumenthal. You might have to do some detective work to find a retail store near you that sells these markers. They work well and last in the rain. Be sure to avoid getting the ink on your good clothes because it will not come off your clothes, ever. It does come off your car window with window cleaner.

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  6. You can get less-effective window markers at many stores, including craft supply stores and even grocery stores. As a substitute for the markers, you can make up a large sign to tape to the outside of your rear window. I knew one woman who had custom magnets made for her car doors when her dog went missing.