Unlikely behavior?

sheltie behind tree

This normally surprises people, but it’s true: if your dog is lost, your pet will probably run from you when he or she sees you. Yes, you read that correctly. If lost, your dog, even one that has always been friendly and your devoted companion, may bolt in the opposite direction from where you are.

Your dog will run from you instead of to you because your dog will be in survival mode, not because he or she doesn’t love you. You see, after three or four days (or even sooner) on the loose, a dog’s priorities start to change. Their priorities will shift to avoiding predators (including you), and searching for shelter, food and water. A dog, therefore, will do whatever is necessary to avoid predators while pursuing the remaining items on his or her list of priorities.

It’s your dog’s ability to shift mental gears into survival mode that increases the chances that your dog will be returned to you. This ability is also what makes it likely that your dog will view you and anyone else looking for him or her as a predator, or a potential threat.

That is why it is critical for you and everyone else trying to find your dog to refrain from yelling or approaching your dog during your search. It’s great when enthusiastic people rally and join together to find a lost dog. But people, together as a group or alone, are terrifying to a lost pet…and the last thing a scared dog will be tempted to approach is a person, even if that person is the dog’s loving owner.

Spread the message to all of the people that are trying to help you that they need to change their mindset from “Catching” to “Luring”. Use your helpers’ enthusiasm and energy to flyer every house and business in the neighborhood, instead of searching for your dog. You will have a much better chance of success!