This article was written for Pet Guardian Angels of America by John Woods
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Three Things You Should Immediately Do When You Find a Stray Dog
Wherever you live, chances are you’ve noticed a stray dog at some time.
The animal lover inside of us all wants to do the right thing and help get this dog to safety. But it is often hard to know what to do for the best, or where to even start. Here are our top three tips on dealing with a stray dog.
1. Make Sure They Are Actually A Stray
It’s super-easy to jump straight in; assuming the dog without an owner is a stray. But watch it. See where it goes, what it does. If you can get a good view, look at it’s appearance and how healthy it looks. Does it have a collar? Do they have a name tag?
Some strays are great at scavenging food so can look a good weight, but they will look unkept.
Their coat will be ungroomed, and they may look dirty.
If it hasn’t got a collar, it is more likely to be a stray. If you can see people, ask if they have seen the dog before, do they know if it elongs to anyone etc…
This will give you a good idea of how long it has been hanging around. Give the dog warden a ring and ask their advice.
2. Approaching The Dog Safely
If the dog is at risk and you need to approach it, it’s essential you stay calm.
They may have had poor experiences of humans so far, so won’t be too eager to come and say hello.
On the other end of the scale, they may associate humans with food so come bounding straight over! Offer some food (meat) to the dog but be patient.
If he is some distance away, you can throw the food across the floor in his general direction to entice him to come closer. If he comes straight to you, simply attach a leash and continue feeding him. If he doesn’t, again be patient, this could take some time (maybe even an hour).
This is also a good technique to keep the dog in one area until further help arrives (e.g. dog warden).
Be mindful of his body language, he may become nervous or stressed at any moment. So, watch for lip licking, yawning, turning away.
Keep an eye out for hackles on his neck and along his back. Look for any tension in his body or change in demeanour.
Above all, you must keep yourself safe so if he poses a risk, let the leash go and move away slowly.
Call the dog warden for further advice and support.
3. Next steps!
If you are unable to get near the dog, call it in to the dog warden and ask for their advice, you may just need to monitor it and keep it in a general area until help arrives.
If you are able to catch the dog, keep him on leash and inform the dog warden or shelter.
You will likely be asked to take him to a nearby Veterinarian’s office or shelter to be checked for a microchip or tattoo.
He may even need a health check.
Some policies vary, but most dogs get around a week to find their owner, until alternative arrangements are made.
Getting a stray dog to safety is key, you may easily be able to catch them, or they may be slightly nervous and wary.
The most important thing is to keep yourself safe and call your local dog warden for advice and support.
John is a pet lover and recognized author by the dog writers association of america. When he’s not playing with his own dogs, he spends most of his time working with shelter dogs.