Successful Trapping: Go Slow to Go Fast – Part 13 of a Series

We can see that this dog, Shabby, is very comfortable with the trap. Time to move the food inside! When we can see her going in and out comfortably, THEN we will set the trap. Note that the date/time stamp on this camera is set wrong. Take the time to set it correctly before you begin. This is invaluable information.

You’re all ready to set up your trap and catch your dog. This should be fast and easy, right?   You’ve done all of the careful preparation and set up an inviting little “dog cave”. Your dog should appreciate that and jump right in, right? Sorry – wrong. This is the number one place that people are too impatient and then give up on the trapping process, claiming it “doesn’t work” or “my dog is too smart for the trap”.

Throwing a trap on the ground and hoping that your dog happens to jump in is like an outfielder closing his eyes and holding his ball glove open up in the air. Is there a chance that the ball will fall in it? Yes, I guess so. But there is a lot better chance of him catching the ball if he strategically uses all of his physical and mental powers to position himself to catch the ball.  Remember, you have ONE chance to get this right. Make it count.

This is where “going slow will be faster than going fast”.

You already have your shy, lost dog coming to the feeding station. You are already seeing pictures of him eating on your trail camera. (if not, please go back and read those installments in the series) You have now added the trap to the “landscape” and it may take a few days for your dog to get accustomed to it. He will sense that something is different and strange. Your goal is to make that transition as easy as possible. Keep the feeding station at least 10 – 30 feet away from the trap at first. Use bungee cords or electrical ties to keep the trap open – so the door can’t come crashing down and scare him.

If you have a trap with two doors, you may want to remove the rear door so the dog can go all the way through at first. This helps with very claustrophobic dogs and encourages them to use the trap as a shelter and sleeping spot.

Watch your pictures. When he is eating at the feeding station comfortably, move the bowl closer to the trap. When he is comfortable with that – move it closer again. Within a few days, you should be able to put the food under the door of the trap. (that is the scary part for a lot of dogs). When he appears comfortable, move the bowl into the trap – just inside the entrance. But you still have it bungeed open. It can’t scare him. Finally move it to the back of the trap behind the trip plate. When you see that he is going all the way in the trap, eating and looking relaxed, you can set the trap. You should know what time he is coming to eat and you can set it just for that time period.

The above method called “luring the dog into the trap” will save you a lot of grief and frustration because:

  • you won’t be catching and endangering wildlife, cats and other dogs
  • you won’t be spending all your time cleaning the trap and washing and replacing the bedding after catching other animals (who will usually urinate and defecate in the trap)
  • you won’t be having to check the trap every couple of hours (possibly causing your shy, lost dog to abandon the feeding station)
  • you will encourage your lost dog to use the trap as a shelter, so when he is finally trapped he will be comfortable and not panic
  • you will be able to continue during extreme hot or cold weather because you won’t be worried that you will endanger the life of an animal that is caught

Okay, we’re almost done. The last section will talk about baiting the trap, what works and what doesn’t work. Stay tuned, you’re almost done! Click here to go to Part 14. 

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.