What to do if your dog is lost?

In the UK dogs have unrestricted access to a large number of public spaces with lots of opportunities to get lost.  Prevention should be your fist course of action but hindsight is a wonderful thing so you also need an action plan if the worst happens.


Dog disk

Get an old fashioned engraved disk for your dog’s collar.  Have your mobile number on it since if you are out looking for your dog that’s the number you want people to call.  An identification disk is a legal requirement in the UK.


Get your dog microchipped.  Dogs that find their way into rescue centres, local authorities dog wardens, vets surgeries etc will be scanned straight away.  Just make sure that the microchip company has your up-to-date mobile number.  It will be a legal requirement in the UK to have your dog microchipped from 6/4/2016.

Mug shot

Have an up-to-date photo of your dog in case the worst happens.




A dog that does not come back when called is most likely to get lost!  Recall training is one of the most common behaviour problems Rainbow Dogs deal with so please contact us if you need help with recall training in Brighton, Worthing or further afield in Sussex.


You should not trust your fencing to be secure enough to leave a dog outside unsupervised.  Dogs can jump, climb or dig under fencing to get free.


Rescue centres fill up with lost dogs after Guy Fawkes Night due to fireworks so be extra vigilant.


Looking for Your Dog

First stay put

Dogs will use their sense of smell to try to find you so stay close to where you lost your dog initially and call him, whistle or squeak his toy.

Enlist help

Search further afield enlisting the help of friends and family to check the local area.

Act fast!

Local authorities have a legal responsibility to keep your dog for only 7 days, after which time he can be put to sleep!

Make that call

Contact your local authority dog warden to report the time and place he was lost along with as detailed a description as possible.

Your dog may travel a great distance; they have been known to hop on trains before, so also contact dog wardens in neighbouring areas.

Contact local rescue centres e.g. Dogs Trust in Shoreham, RSPCA in Brighton.

Contact other rescue centres further afield e.g. Blue Cross, Battersea Dogs and Cats Home.

Contact local vet surgeries.

The web

Search online for lost dog websites. Register on as many websites as possible. Uploading a picture will increase your chances of finding your dog.

Get social

Post on social media with a picture of your dog. Facebook and Twitter have different groups for lost dogs.

Walk the walk

Print posters with a picture of your dog and your contact details.  Start in the location where you lost him and then fan out from there.

Visit rescue centres

Visit your local rescue centre if they take in strays to check if they have your dog. Give then one of your posters.

Don’t give up!

Lost dogs are sometimes found months after becoming lost!

UPDATE 26/11/2018

Brighton Dog Watch is a great resource for lost dogs in and around the Brighton area.

Mike Garner is a dog trainer and behaviourist at Rainbow Dogs in Brighton & Hove, Sussex.

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Welcome to Rainbow Dogs

Rainbow Dogs … where every dog is an individual.

Mike Garner of Rainbow Dogs will be blogging with free dog training tips and general advice about dog training & welfare.

Please email me with your dog training questions and I will do my best to answer them on this blog.

Looking for specific help with training your dog in Brighton & Hove or further afield in Sussex?  Contact me now!