Lost Dog Behavior
Lost dog behavior.
1. Dogs and cats who are lost will often behave differently than normal.
2. It's not just that the animals behave differently, but their owners and other good Samaritans behave in predictable counterproductive ways.
3. People often ask me what a dog or a cat is thinking but I can't really know. I can only say that a dog or cat behaves in a certain way, as if it might be thinking along these lines.
4. Resource needs vs perceived threats.
12. It would be hard to say a certain percentage of dogs would behave this way or that way. It depends on factors and variables like environment, terrain, weather, health, and human behaviors. Who did a cat meet while he was lost? Impossible to predict. I can say a stray dog is very likely to meet a Good Samaritan who will take the wrong approach.
13. Interviews are valuable for gathering data about the lost pet’s behavior before being lost and possibly while lost. Did the dog or cat escape before? How found?
14. Wandering dogs tend to circle.
15. New dogs transported by rescues often freak out.
16. Most wandering dogs have been grabbed at by a potential rescuer.
17. Dogs will find water with their noses.
18. Dogs will run against traffic, up an exit ramp, wrong way on freeway. Penny Moo. Daddy. Bellevue poodle. Duke in Issaquah. Viktor.
19. Two dogs together are usually close to home, except Ava and Griffin.
One of the first bits of advice I give to the owner of a lost cat or a lost dog is: don’t call the name of that lost cat or dog. This is counterintuitive, and almost everyone questions why. I can’t tell them the exact reason why, because I don’t know what the cat or dog is actually thinking. I can say from experience, from reports from the owners of cats and dogs, that calling their names will often, usually, produces the wrong result. I have hundreds of reports of dog owners saying they saw their dog, in the street or in the woods, they called the dog’s name, the dog looked right at them, and then bolted away. I also have many dozens of reports of people who called and called for their cats, but when they switched to just talking in a normal tone of voice, the cat sauntered out of the bushes like he planned to come home when he was good and ready, when it was his idea.
Fozzie and I worked a search for a lost Shar Pei. We started at the point last seen, and Fozzie started tracking the scent in the direction the lost dog went last, toward a patch of woods beside the freeway off ramp. We tracked for about twenty minutes. Fozzie put his nose up, like he smelled the dog in the area, but not in a particular place. I looked around, and there he was, sitting quietly under the shade of an evergreen tree, about 15 feet away. I told the woman we were with, the person who had hired us, just to remain calm and not call his name. I told her, don’t look at him, or even acknowledge that you know he is there. We are going to give him time to come to us when he is ready. I felt confident that we could get him to come to us. If he wouldn’t just come to us on his own, given enough time to relax, then we could always set a human trap and catch him that way. The important thing was to make sure he didn’t run farther away. Her son came along behind us and caught up. He saw the dog, and shouted out his name in excitement. He called his dog to him, and the dog bolted. The son chased the dog for over a mile, calling his name the entire way. That dog was never found, and has been missing for five years now. Because we were next to a freeway, it is very likely the dog died, all because one person did not follow my advice to not call the dog’s name. You could also say that the dog was never found because I failed to impress on everyone in the family how important it is that you don’t call a dog’s name and you don’t chase him. If you are helping someone find a lost dog, you need to repeat this advice many times, and also provide it in writing. Failure to understand this behavior in dogs is the number one reason they are never found, the number one reason they die.
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