Items You Will Need

Slip lead or preferably a couple of them
Strong smelling treats - tripe treats or tinned fish are excellent for this - Put them in a crinkly bag like a crisp bag

You Need to Know

Frightened dogs, even your own pet, can quickly go into “fight or flight” mode and will be highly reactive to sounds and movement.

The way to catch your dog or a stray is to use calming techniques and attracting him to come to you. 


This will go against everything you think you should be doing after your dog has escaped and is running loose (or when you encounter a stray dog). 

You’re probably thinking, “But they always comes to me when I call them” or “So how will I get the dog to come to me if I see him/her, but I can’t call their name?”

BUT calling a dog can actually cause it to run from you.

Our instinct, when the dog runs, is to chase after the dog and this is the worst thing that you can do!

It’s likely that other strangers who have spotted your dog have already tried to capture him/her and calling it has become a “trigger” that causes it to automatically bolt in fear when anyone, including it's owner, calls it. In many cases, people have tried to call the dog as they looked directly at the dog and walked towards it, an action that is dominant and frightening to a dog that is in the fight or flight mode.

So when you hear or see the words “DO NOT CHASE YOUR DOG” it also includes DO NOT CALL your dog (since calling a dog can create chasing).

Some dogs will be so terrified that they will not even come to their owners. While some dogs will ultimately calm down and then approach people, other dogs will continue to run from everyone.


The chances are good that if other people have already encountered your dog and they whistled to it (which many people do) then whistling also may become a trigger to cause your dog to run. So will slapping your leg and clapping your hands.

These are all gestures and sounds that people may have used when your dog was in the fight or flight mode.  When he hears these noises he will once again feel a jolt of adrenaline and bolt in fear.


If during your search you encounter your dog, do NOT call out to him/her and don’t use a coaxing voice.

If your pet is looking at you, IMMEDIATELY SIT OR EVEN LIE DOWN, even if it is muddy or in wet conditions.

If you see them and they do not see you, get their attention with soft mewing noises and SIT DOWN. Standing up is a dominant gesture, but sitting down is critical to attracting a panicked dog to come to you.

Then look away, which is a submissive gesture. Do not make eye contact with him/her.


Pretend you are eating food. Take your treats or fish and pretend you are really enjoying eating them, while dropping lots of bits of food to tempt the dog closer.  Crisp bags are perfect to carry your treats in because they make loud, crinkly noises that dogs associate with food.

You can watch your dog out of the corner of your eye without looking directly at it. Do not make eye contact.

Your body language should suggest that you are too busy eating and are ignoring or haven't see the dog. This is the key to catching a loose dog—calming it down and attracting it to come to you, not you going to it.

You should also know that when dogs are in a full fight or flight mode and their adrenaline is flowing, the olfactory section of their brain closes down. That’s why sometimes when you try to feed a hotdog to a panicked dog it won’t eat it. So sometimes the food will work, sometimes it won’t. It depends on the dog and what level of panic he is in.

Also, some dogs will immediately recognize their owner by their scent, but other dogs won’t.

Many dog owners don’t believe that their own dog would not come to them and find out the hard way, even after they’ve been given this information. To be on the safe side, if you do see your dog, instead of calling him, SIT DOWN on the ground, do not look directly at your dog, but start making lip-smacking “nummy, nummy, nummy” sounds as you drop treats on the ground and slowly entice your dog to come to you. We STRONGLY suggest that you watch this video before you start searching for your lost dog!

Information with kind thanks to: Missing Animal Response