Under the new law that came into force on 6 April 2016, all dogs must be microchipped and registered on one of the approved databases.

All puppies must be microchipped and registered by the age of eight weeks.

It is a legal requirement for dogs to wear a collar and tag with the owner’s name and address.

Owners who do not get their dog microchipped and registered with an approved database face a fine of up to £500.

Found dogs are often collected by the local authority dog warden and kept for seven days. If microchipped, you will be easily reunited with your dog otherwise after seven days your dog can be passed to an animal charity or a rescue to find a new home, or they can be euthanised by the local authority. Don’t take that risk and make sure your dog is microchipped and contact details are up to date.

What to do if your dog is missing?

Pets usually run away due to three common reasons. First of all, they may run away to answer sexual urges if they haven’t been neutered. Secondly, they may do this in response to sudden and unexpected events that frighten them. This could include if they feel uncomfortable in a new home and wish to look for their former surroundings. And thirdly, they may run out of open doors, windows or gates merely out of curiosity.

How far they run is just a question of how far their legs will carry them. Big dogs, especially young ones, can run 5 miles or more. Small dogs, on the other hand, may be able to reach half a mile at most. Most dogs are recovered well within a two-mile radius of their home, and this is because they normally never run for an extended length in a straight line.

If the dog is outgoing, it will be looking for other dogs and other friendly humans who are likely to provide comfort, food, and shelter. Neighbours’ yards and public parks are spots they may be attracted to.

If the dog is shy, older pet, and/or untrusting of strangers, it will hide. If this is the case, then in bushes and under cars are likely spots.

Once you realise your dog is missing, please start looking for him/her immediately. The longer you wait, the harder it can be to find them. Do not wait for your dog to come back on its own or assume they have a ‘homing instinct’. Your dog will probably try to find their way home but they might not be successful. They could easily become disorientated, scared or injured. Search the area immediately, leaving the description of your missing dog and your contact details with as many people as possible.

Ask your neighbours if they have seen your dog. They may have seen your pet in their garden or home. Knock on the doors of the houses around your block.

Walk around the area your dog went missing from with a lead, some treats, and maybe your dog’s favourite toy, blanket, or teddy. The scents of all these things may help bring your lost dog back to you. It may also be a good idea to check any empty house in your area. Your dog could be hiding there.

Call the following:

  • Your vet
  • Other local vets
  • Your local animal warden
  • The nearest animal hospital or RSPCA centre.
  • Your re-homing centre, i.e. The Mayhew Animal Home, Battersea Cats and Dogs or Woodgreen Animal Shelter.
  • Your local council or animal pounds in your area.
  • Your microchip company, i.e. Petlog, Missing Pet Register etc And please make sure your dog’s microchip is up to date.

If your dog was wearing a collar/tag displaying your telephone numbers, make sure that if anyone rings these numbers someone is available to answer them. Keep your mobile phone with you at all times in case someone finds your dog and tries to contact you.

Remember to speak to any postal workers or other service personnel that cover a wide area.
If it isn’t raining, putting out your dog’s bedding or the contents of the hoover bag is a good idea as it allows them to pick up the scent of where they come from.

Put up as many posters as you can: in vet practices, pet shops, animal charity shops, local shops, outside schools, post offices, libraries, community centres, churches, on supermarket noticeboards, outside cinemas, anywhere that people are likely to gather. In addition to these areas, putting posters up at bus stops, stations and phone booths would help to guarantee maximum exposure.

Put leaflets through all the houses around your block or estate, and keep extending the radius of where you’re looking.
You could include the word “REWARD” in big letters, as this would make everyone understand that this is really important to you.

If you have a dog who knows your dog, get them involved in the search by taking them for a walk around the house and areas close by. Dogs can sniff-out things we can’t.

Use social media. Post about your missing dog on local Facebook pages and on Twitter.  Approach your local lost/found pets groups in your area. It is also a good idea to publish information about your lost dog on NextDoor and Lostbox. Please also list your missing dog on animalsearchuk.co.uk, doglost.co.uk and petslocated.com.

Put food and water out for your dog at the same time (morning and evening) close to where he went missing or where there have been any recent sightings, and keep doing so – even if you think cats or foxes might be eating the food instead.

Dogs are crepuscular, meaning, if left to their own devices as they are in the wild, they’re most active at dawn and dusk; when living with humans, most dogs adjust their sleeping patterns to that of their owners so focus your search at times of your routine walk or feeding time. Cover the paths where you normally walk your dog, as well as the surrounding areas. Draw a circle on a map with your home at the centre so you can cover the area in a methodical way.

Search in a triangular area. Dogs tend to go from A to B to C when they’re lost.

Ask people that, if they do see your dog, not to chase them. Ask that they turn their body to the side and, using a happy voice, lure your dog to them. Ask that if they have a yard or another containment area, to coax your dog inside there and then call you. Let people know if your dog is dog-friendly, in case they have a dog of their own. And don’t forget to mention the REWARD. Positive reinforcement will encourage people to help you.

When searching for your dog, don’t shout your dog’s name anxiously as he won’t recognize the tone of your voice. Call as you would normally.

If you have a car, drive slowly in search of your dog. Dogs recognize the sound of a familiar engine.

If you suspect that your dog has been stolen, contact your local police station straight away and ask for a crime number. Also check online sale sites. Dog thieves rarely take an animal more than 30 miles from the scene of the crime.