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What to do if you lose your dog in Dorset

Dog stood on pathway looking at camera

You might be wondering what to do if you lose your dog in Dorset; this blog is here to help you.

Written and published in collaboration with Nicky Crowe from Dog Friendly Dorset.

So, you’re out and about enjoying the beautiful Dorset countryside (or beaches) with your furry best friend, and then you suddenly realise . . . you can’t see your dog.

You scan all around you but you can’t see them, or hear them. A few moments pass and you start to feel that prickly panic creeping in. After shouting their name for several more minutes to no avail, it’s time to face the possibility that your dog may be missing, or worse – they may have been stolen.


Stay calm. Breathe. Here’s what you need to do next:

Immediate Actions (first half-hour of a dog going missing)

  • Try not to panic, this goes against the grain but you have a better chance of dealing with the situation if you can remain level headed.
  • Spend around half an hour cheerfully calling/whistling your dog, retracing your steps if possible. If you can make familiar sounds such as rattling their treat tin this may help.
  • You can also try rolling treats in your fingers to cover with your scent and then leave a trail as you walk so they can follow it to you.
  • Ask other dog walkers if they have seen your dog or anything that may help i.e. strange behaviour or vehicles. Give them your number if you’re comfortable in doing so and suggest a meeting spot, like the car park, that you can circle back to.
  • Stop and listen often.
  • Check back at the car/car park frequently.
  • If you have a rough idea of the area the dog was lost in, leave an item of your clothing on the ground. Some dogs will return to the scent. It may be a good idea to take a notepad and pen with you to leave a note for other walkers to let them know not to pick up the clothing.


Person using a smartphone in the forest

Secondary Actions (approx. 1 hour after dog going missing)

  • Post it on social media, some people leave it hours before they post and this can reduce the chance of you being reunited.
  • Example;

Example of social media lost dog post

It’s also worth sharing a post with as much description as possible to your local dog friendly Facebook groups (such as Dog Friendly Dorset. Dog Friendly Dorset Facebook group is a community page so we will help you. Ask us to come out to help you search, to distribute neighbourhood leaflets, whatever you need. We are here for you.


If you lose your dog in Dorset, this list of contacts will be useful.

Contact DogLost*

    • Register with, it’s free and they will create a printable poster for you and send email alerts to local helpers.

If you create your own poster, make sure to include

    • A selection of up-to-date photos of your dog from several angles
    • Your dog’s name
    • Your contact numbers
    • Where and when your dog went missing, with a map
    • Description
    • Include tear-off tags at the bottom with your contact number
    • Where to display posters
      • Supermarket notice boards
      • Launderettes
      • Pet stores
      • Give to postmen/women and delivery persons like DFD and UPS to include in their run

Try and engage local children in the search, they will remind adults and keep the search going

Contact local dog walkers and trainers. If your dog has been rehomed the new owners may seek out training. Also, dog walkers will be covering your area frequently throughout the day.

Call the local Dog Warden if you lose your dog in Dorset.

    • Bournemouth 01202 45 13 06
    • Christchurch 08451 30 76 87
    • East Dorset 01202 63 90 30
    • North Dorset 01258 45 41 11
    • Poole 01202 26 17 00
    • Purbeck 01929 55 72 77
    • West Dorset 01305 25 10 10
    • Weymouth & Portland 01305 83 84 68

Get in touch with your vet/microchipping company if your dog is chipped. Make sure they have the most up to date contact information for you.

Contact other local vets in case anyone takes your dog there to be scanned. You can find contact numbers here:

Get in touch with local rescue centres

    • Margaret Green, Blandford 01929 471 340
    • Margaret Green, Church Knowle 01929 480 474
    • RSPCA, Dorchester 01305 259 672
    • RSPCA, Ashley Heath 0300 123 0749

Stolen Dogs

Report Stolen Dogs to the Police. Insist it is recorded as a theft and not a lost animal, and make sure you get a Crime Reference Number

Always report suspicious behaviour/attempted dog thefts and actual thefts to the Police

    • Dorset Police, 01202 222 222
    • Weymouth Police, 01305 222 222

Contact your Pet Insurance provider as they may be able to provide financial assistance.

There has also been reported success in contacting an Animal Communicator who can give you clues. Joanne Yeoh or Pea Horsely are recommended in Dorset.

Continuing the search

    • Keep searching every day on foot and in the car calling out your dog’s name in a happy voice. Dawn and dusk are the most likely times your dog will move to try and find you.
    • If you can, bring along one of your dog’s friends on a walk. Your dog will be able to pick up its scent.


Dog tied up outside of shop

Preventative Actions

NEVER leave your dog

    • Tied up outside a shop
    • On its own in the garden
    • Locked in your car/van
    • On its own in an unlocked house

Make sure your dog is microchipped

Good recall training

Make the end of a walk (the most likely time for your dog to wander off) as exciting as the beginning by ending on some training tricks before getting them back on the lead

Take your dog to ‘scent and tracker’ training to hone its skills

Dog collars –

    • With your name, address, and contact number
    • It is UK legal requirement that dogs wear an ID tag or ID collar

Dog Walking Good Practice

Vary your walking route and timings, predictive behaviour is easier to target

Never let children walk the dog alone

Stay vigilant, don’t become distracted by your phone when you’re out walking your dog. Make mental notes of the people/vehicles you see – you never know what could be important if there’s an incident.

Try to avoid walking alone in quiet areas.

ALWAYS keep lots of up-to-date photos of your dog on your phone, from lots of angles, especially if they have any easily identifiable markings. Include photos of yourself with your dog in case you ever need to prove ownership (like we need an excuse to take more photos of our fur babies!)

Wear a whistle around your neck when you’re out walking. If someone is trying to steal your dog, blow your whistle AS LOUD AS YOU CAN!

Consider investing in a Smart GPS tracking collar like the one by Pawtrax. Most trackers allow you to link them up to your smartphone so you can see where your dog is at any time. Some of them even light up or beep so you can follow these signals as you get closer.

You could also consider a ‘nanny cam’ for your home. So, you can check in on your dog(s) throughout the day.

If you hire a Dog Walker

  • Choose one who doesn’t have a sign written vehicle. When they park at your house it will be less obvious to any potential thieves in the area that dogs are being left home alone. It also means they are less likely to be followed by opportunist thieves whilst out walking your dog(s).
  • Ask your dog walker how many dogs they walk together. Make sure you’re comfortable that they are competent, they will be vigilant, and any risks will be minimised.

What to do if you FIND a Lost Dog

  • First – you MUST report it to the local dog warden
    • Bournemouth 01202 45 13 06
    • Christchurch 08451 30 76 87
    • East Dorset 01202 63 90 30
    • North Dorset 01258 45 41 11
    • Poole 01202 26 17 00
    • Purbeck 01929 55 72 77
    • West Dorset 01305 25 10 10
    • Weymouth & Portland 01305 83 84 68
    • Out of hours number 0800 50 60 50

Never chase. Stoop down, side on and call happily and lure with treats or even scatter some.

You can also take the dog (if safe to do so) to a local vet who can scan the dog to see if he/she is microchipped.

Emergency Vet Care (EVC) Poole, Bournemouth 01202 382 843 will take in dogs out of hours

Vets 4 Pets in Winton are open 24 hours 01202 635 160

Found dogs can also be registered on DogLost, a site that helps to reunite lost dogs with their owners. They create a page for the dog and alert people in the area. They also offer valuable help both online and on the ground to make sure dogs get home safely to their families.

Important: If you keep a lost dog, sell it, or give it away you could face prosecution!

If you’ve lost a pet due to theft or any other reason, the Blue Cross operates a national Pet Bereavement Support Service which can be contacted on 0800 096 6606 (8.30 am – 8.30 pm) or by email:

Other Resources

*DogLost have volunteers in each area of Dorset as well as local coordinators and a police liaison volunteer. They run a Facebook Page called DogLostDorset and help owners by crossposting lost/found dogs. Local volunteers also help by postering and searching, owners are advised to post their missing/found dog on (insert link). We hold scanners, endoscopes, trail cameras and traps. Once a dog is registered on the website, the coordinator from that area will make contact with the owner to offer advice and help etc.

Special thanks to Nicky Crowe from Dorset Dog Friendly and the following contributors for all their support, information and advice for this blog on what to do if you lose your dog in Dorset:

What to do if you lose your dog in Dorset, written and published in collaboration with Nicky Crowe from Dog Friendly Dorset May 2021.

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