Finally! You have your humane trap for your shy lost dog set up. You have been feeding him at a feeding station and know his routine. He is comfortable with the trap being there because you have made it “part of the landscape”. You have been moving the bowl closer and closer to the trap and finally under the door of the trap. You are monitoring the progress from the pictures on your trail camera.
Still, for some dogs, taking the risk to go into the trap is a big step. It is scary. The longer they have been lost, the more distrustful they have usually become.
So baiting the trap with something absolutely scrumptiously delicious is important. There aren’t any hard and fast rules except one. Think SMELLY. You want the smell of the food to be so wonderful, so delectable, that your dog is willing to take the risk. This means no dry dog food! Dry dog food is not smelly. For some reason that we have yet to figure out, people want to put dry dog food in a trap. Sorry, it just doesn’t work well. We don’t care if it is the ultra premium dry dog food that costs $60 a bag that your dog gobbles up at home. It doesn’t have the sort of smell required to encourage your dog to take the risk.
So here are some better suggestions that have worked for us. We are sure you will also come up with some on your own:
- rotisserie chicken from the grocery store (removed from the bone)
- Kentucky Fried Chicken (removed from the bone)
- grilled bratwurst
- canned tripe (the brand pictured above is available at many specialty pet food stores)
- fresh green tripe (available from specialty pet food stores)
- inexpensive canned cat or dog food (generally the cheaper the food, the smellier it is)
- meatballs in BBQ sauce
The possibilities are endless. Walk through the hot deli section of your grocery store and sniff. What smells delicious? What smells irresistible? Remember, a dog’s sense of smell is at least 100 times better than a human’s. So you have the ability to draw your dog from a really long distance if you choose something smelly. Change it up. If something isn’t working and your dog doesn’t appear willing to “take the risk” try something else. Always make sure that your dog is getting some food at the feeding station though. You don’t want him to abandon the location out of frustration and move on.
Imagine you are in a restaurant and you haven’t eaten all day and are starving. The service is slow and nobody has come to take your order. The waiter passes by your table with a plate of steaming hot fresh rolls. He is distracted and you think: Maybe, just maybe I can sneak a roll off the plate and he won’t notice. You are “willing to take the risk”. That’s how you need your dog to feel.
If your dog is getting food from other sources also (very likely); you have to make sure your offering is better. You may have to find the other food sources and cut them off. This can be tricky and we’ll cover this in more detail in another article. But, regardless, you will have the best chance of success if you are offering the most delicious food that your dog has smelled in a long time.
Remember, don’t set the trap until you have seen on your trail camera pictures that your dog is comfortably going in and out and eating. This is your best chance for success and is much better than a hit or miss attempt which can scare your dog, and make him abandon the location. Then you have to start all over again somewhere else.
Toby, that shy Australian Shepherd who bolted from the sound of fireworks will be safely caught soon because you have carefully and patiently followed all of the steps to catch a shy, elusive dog. Good Work! Click here to go to Part 15.
Our tips, ideas and articles are based on information gathered from thousands of successful lost dog recoveries. Any advice or suggestions made by Lost Dogs of Wisconsin/Lost Dogs Illinois is not paid-for professional advice and should be taken at owner’s discretion.