Search Tips: How to Get the Word Out

Large Posters for Signs

  • Do large posters in very bold print, on neon colored poster board that could be seen by a passing vehicle, with a telephone number of someone immediately available to check out a sighting.
  • For every day that passes with no calls with sightings, put new signs out approximately 1 mile in each direction. 
  • Make the sign brief - just LOST SHELTIE and the PHONE NUMBER

Home Phone & Cell Phone Messages

  • Change your outgoing message: “If you are calling about the lost Sheltie, please leave your name, phone number, time, location you saw her including street number or intersection and what direction she was going, thank you for calling.” 


  • Bring flyers to all houses & businesses in the area of where your Sheltie was last seen. On any flyer/notice/ad, place the information that the dog is microchipped or tattooed (hopefully they are), and DO NOT CHASE and DO NOT CALL DOG'S NAME (these will cause your dog to run from the area).  Please stress the do not chase!
  • Take a business card from where you leave flyers so that you can go back and remove flyers once your dog is home.
  • If you suspect the dog may have been stolen, state that the dog is microchipped and spayed/neutered. Some put "NEEDS MEDICATION" in large print on the flyers. If possible, offer as large a reward as you can afford.
  • Post a flyer at schools, playgrounds, businesses, restaurants, kennels, groomers, pet supply stores, dog daycares, school districts/bus transportation, churches, grocery stores, libraries, bus stops/stations, gas stations, car dealers, laundromat, the highway department, police department & fire department.
  • Post flyers wherever allowed within a 2 mile or 20 block radius of where the dog was last seen and send flyers to all vet clinics within a 60 mile radius. For each day without sightings, expand your radius of flyer distribution.
  • A sample flyer can be found at Lost Dog Search.


Business Cards

  • Make your own business cards with your dog's photo, “Lost Sheltie” & phone numbers ... hand those out to children, people out walking their dogs, runners, bikers, etc. Sometimes they throw away flyers, where they'll keep a business card.

Tag Vehicle

  • If you think someone "has" your dog because there have been no sightings, as you are driving around looking...Tape a flyer to the back of your vehicle or use bright colored window markers, so everywhere you go, people know "somebody" is still looking for this dog, and is not going "to just go away!"
  • Here is a link to help with tagging: Missing Pet Partnership.

Who To Talk To

  • Talk to local delivery people, mail carriers, meter readers, newspaper carriers, trash collectors, etc. and ask them to keep an eye out for your dog. Give them a flyer or business card. Talk to anyone and everyone you see. People will tend to remember better when there is that personal connection.

Notify By Phone/Email/Fax

  • Animal Control, Animal Shelters & Rescues, Veterinarians, Police or Sheriff’s Departments, Highway/public works department & Animal service businesses that are in your town and surrounding towns.

Checking Facilities

  • YOU MUST PHYSICALLY check the Animal Control facility and Humane Society yourself daily. Do not leave the decision as to whether the dog brought in is a Border Collie, Aussie, or Sheltie up to the shelter worker. Ask to see the strays that have come in.

Be Diligent In Your Search

  • Don't think she will come home on her own. That is rarely the case with Shelties. When she finds a hideout, it may take several days for her to come out. When she gets hungry and ventures out to look for food, that is when the mass notification of the whole area will pay off, and you will get a call. At that point somebody needs to GO, right then... because fear will again overtake hunger and the dog will go back to hiding. Once you get your sighting you can think about the best way to catch her. Searches can go on for weeks or months – with a successful outcome.

Humane Live Traps

  • A humane live trap is a good idea once you have a sighting. Put food (KFC chicken or tuna) and something with your or your dog's scent on it inside the trap. Animal Control or a humane society may loan/rent you one, or try a rental place. Check the trap frequently to release other captured critters and restock the food. We've found the smellier the food, the quicker it will entice the dog into the trap.  On line sites to buy traps: Heart of the Earth Animal Equipment or Tomahawk Live Trap.

Drop Zones

  • Create "drop zones" where you can leave food and an article of your clothing with your scent, so that if she runs across it, she will stay. Open the gate to your fenced yard in case your dog does find her way back home (be sure to safeguard your other pets). Leave her crate outside with some of her items in it.

Lists & Maps

  • Keep a list of phone numbers of everyone who calls with a sighting. If you get to the sighting location and can't figure out what they said, you can call back for more information.
  • Map to record sightings of your dog. Record the date, time and exact location of the sighting in a notebook. Use a separate map of the area and mark the sightings on the map, along with where flyers have been distributed. For maps use: Google Maps.

Think Like Your Dog

  • Which direction would she be most likely to head? Is there a house/yard in the neighborhood similar to yours? Follow the lay of the land and take the path of least resistance. If you come to an area where there is a drainage ditch, railroad tracks, river.....that is like a highway. Walk it and "quietly" look for the dog. Look for her at her regular meal times.


Once You Get Her Back

  • PLEASE take her to the vet to get her checked out. She may have got into something while on her journey.
  • Fix the reason as to why she got out. Never leave her out unsupervised, never have her off leash in an unfenced area. Collar and harness should fit snugly. Check fence for gaps and make sure gate is locked.This breed is a flight risk - This breed is a flight risk - never leave them out unsupervised, never have them off leash in an unfenced area, collar or harness should fit snugly, check fence for gaps, and make sure gate is securely locked.
  • Update or delete online listings so people know your pet is home and remove flyers from businesses.

Internet & Social Networking

Newspaper ad, post on Facebook, call police immediately when the dog is lost, especially if Animal Control is closed.


  • Lost Dog Search (good information on each step in the process, print-outs, and a list of sites where you can report your pet missing)

List Lost Dog/Internet