So, when do you set a trap for a lost dog? The short and simple answer is when you have the dog eating on a trail camera in a specific location.
Starting from the moment they escape or get loose; you need to remain calm. We know losing a pet can be one of the most stressful times in your life. If your dog is still in sight, we encourage people to LURE them back, DO NOT CHASE after them. If they completely run out of sight, let them go, do not go after them. The downside of chasing them, you are pushing them away from the location they were lost. This will further delay their return home.
Once you lose sight of them, please find a way to place a bowl of canned wet dog food out for them. Dog food with gravy, like ALPO, is a great example. You want to use something that has a heavy scent. Other great options are smelly deli meats, liquid smoke or barbecue sauce. It is also a good idea to place a scent item out that is familiar to the dog, like their bed or some of your dirty clothes that will still have your scent on them.
At MARN we get requests all the time from lost pet owners, asking if we could bring a trap for a dog that has just gotten loose. Now you must understand, not every dog needs to be trapped. What we mean is that trapping a dog using a humane trap is safe but can be startling to a skittish dog. If you have a very friendly dog most of the time, they can be lured using calming signals instead of being trapped. This method is the least stressful but should be performed by a trained individual. Our pet detectives are trained in ways to capture your dog without trapping, but if a trap must be set then they are ready for that as well.
Why you don’t just throw a trap up for lost or stray dog:
- There is no guarantee the dog will come back to that location.
- When setting a trap all the food, straw if used, batteries for cameras and data plans for WIFI cameras cost money and the food specifically doesn’t last long and must be thrown out. Those that volunteer their time or even those charging for their services cannot afford to waste supplies by not being sure they have the best spot to start trapping your lost pet.
- The dog will not travel long distances just because you set a trap in a specific place. The location of a trap must be carefully thought out based on the behavior and where you can get the dog eating.
- You also must be aware of other animals and dangers, such as highways and high traffic roads. It is not a good idea to lure a dog near a road unless you have ABSOLUTELY no other choice. No other choice meaning that is the only spot you can get the dog to eat.
When it is time to set a trap for a lost dog? When you have already done the following:
- You have placed a familiar scent article near the place of escape.
- You have set up a food station with a trail camera. Then you have confirmed your dog was there eating the food.
- If not on your property you have asked permission to trap on said property or location.
Traps Should Always be Monitored
It is critical that all humane traps be monitored in some way to assure that an animal does not become overly stressed or injured when trapped. Traps can occasionally malfunction, so being nearby to prevent any accident is important. Monitoring can be accomplished either by visually watching the trap from a safe distance (i.e. while sitting inside a parked car), by monitoring the trap while using a sound monitoring device (i.e. a driveway alarm that audibly beeps when something enters the trap), or by using a cellular game camera that texts you a photograph of the trap in real-time. You should always be able to arrive at the triggered trap within minutes of the trap being triggered or assign this to a volunteer or even a neighbor who lives near the trapping location.
How Often Should I Check My Trap?
Traps should be checked every 1-3 hours if you are not placing a wireless camera to watch the trap remotely. Now if you are using a wireless game camera that sends you images or videos you don’t have to be at the trap as often, but you still want to be nearby if something goes into the trap. Ideally, you don’t want any animal in a trap for over 30 minutes if possible. Keeping the animals calm and getting them out of the trap safely as soon as possible is key.
When To Tie The Trap Open?
If you cannot stay and monitor the trap overnight, for example, we recommend refreshing the smelly food in the trap and then tying the door with a bungee cord or rope. This will allow the lost pet to get some food and to see the trap is less threatening for when it is set to go off again.
Never Open a Trap In the Field To Remove a Lost Pet
There are a number of things that can go wrong, but the main thing is we don’t want that pet to escape. We recommend taking the whole trap into a garage, enclosed area, or vehicle if the trap is small enough and remove the pet then so they cannot escape before getting them secured. If you are using a kennel trap or missy trap, make sure to have someone hold the door shut until you have the lost dog on a leash or in a transport kennel. We know how much work goes into rescuing lost pets, so we would hate to see the pet escape after being successfully trapped.
Pet owners these days treat their pets like children or at least consider them part of the family. We want to make sure you have all the information needed to make the best decisions possible when looking for your lost pet. We understand the entire process can be overwhelming, but we are here to help. Visit the LOST PET HELP section of our website for other great information. If you need someone in your area trained to help, please visit our PET DETECTIVE DIRECTORY.