Second Chance: Psyche of a Lost Dog

Second Chance: Psyche of a Lost Dog

The Second Chance Humane Society Pet Column continues on the topic of tips on finding a lost pet.

Last week we discussed the immediate steps you should take should your pet get lost. Today I am going to help you understand the unique personality of a lost dog as we demonstrate distinct patterns of behavior, different from normal behaviors, which make it harder for our people to find us.


Gregarious wiggly-butt dogs are more inclined to go directly up to the first person who calls them. These dogs are at risk of self-adoption because they end up with well-meaning rescuers who, for various reasons, don’t want to report them as found. Depending on the terrain and population density where the dog was lost, these pets will generally be found fairly close to home or will be picked up by someone close to the escape point.

Dogs that are running scared are wary of strangers and will initially avoid human contact. Eventually, they will be inclined to accept people once they have overcome fear issues and become hungry enough. Often set off by a fright like gunshots, fireworks, or other noise, these dogs run without heed and does not know where they are. The wariness of these dogs can be easily misinterpreted as “abuse,” since many will cower in fear. In addition, they are often not recovered for weeks after their escape, giving them the physical appearance (thinness, injuries, stickers, ticks, etc.) that they’re stray and homeless rather than someone’s lost friend.

Dogs with timid, skittish temperaments (due to genetics and/or puppyhood experiences) are more inclined to travel farther and are at a higher risk of being hit by cars. They will become more fearful if chased to the point that people cannot get anywhere near them, so owners should ask helpers to call with sightings and not attempt to catch the dog. It may be necessary to use specific techniques and tools for a safe recovery. That will be discussed in next week’s Pet Column.

Sometimes people who find lost dogs behave in ways that reduce the chances that the animal will be reunited with their owners. Certain behaviors of lost dogs lead others to assume these dogs were “abused,” or “abandoned” making them reluctant to search for an owner. I hope this Pet Column will serve as a reminder of the importance of properly reporting stray pets.

And finally, I get to write about me.

My name is Clarice. I have heard it said that I am the most adorable Blue Heeler puppy you will ever meet. I am a little over three months of age and I have a ,beautiful soft coat that is a mix of grey, white and black. While waiting for my new family, I have been making many friends of all ages, learning to walk on a leash (still a little daunting…), and am a great play friend with both furry and human friends. Joy is my companion and I share it well with others. Lucky are the people who become my new family.


Grace is sort of my feline twin in that we are the same age and she too is a cultivator of joy and playfulness. Grace came to Second Chance after being found roaming the streets all alone. Since coming here she has lived in a communal with many other kitten friends, but she would truly love a home and family of her own (particularly with me).

Vetting the Vet: Dr. Michelle Dally, DVM, J.D. is Medical Director of Second Chance Humane Society. She also has a private practice, Dally Veterinary Medicine, 333 S. Elizabeth Street, Ridgway, Colorado. Her service area is  San Miguel Mesas, Placerville, Ridgway, Ouray, and Montrose. For more on Dr. Dally, go here.

Michelle & Wallowby

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