Most lost dog posters come with a warning of “DON’T CHASE!” You may assume this is because of the dogs disposition, but it’s actually a warning intended to bridge the instinct gap of man vs beast. Every single time – if you run, they will run. And most of the time, a dog will be able to out-run you.
Fun fact: A fit man can run at 10-15 mph, the average dog can run 15-20 mph, and Usain Bolt’s world record is 27 mph – so, the odds are not in your favour.
After a dog gets free, there are a few seconds for both the human and the pup of “oh crap, i’m free” followed by “now what?”. It is at this time that the human needs to rein in their natural instincts and appeal to the dog. Experts advise you to get low to the ground, walk the other direction, engage in play, ignore the dog….but never chase. Once the chase starts, the dog feels they are “running for their life” and behaviour is erratic. And, while a dog may be occasionally (rarely) captured by force, most will evade/outrun while in panic mode. So, in order to better your chances of capturing a lost dog, you want them to relax a bit, develop patterns, stop running. Allowing a dog to have a safe place, leads to predictable behaviour in a smaller geography, which leads to capture.
And don’t get us wrong – it is hard! When we know a dog is loose/lost, we panic. We want to chase, call, drive around screaming names, approach – we just want to help. (Honestly, I think without education/awareness we all would go with our gut). Our goal is to increase awareness, of what “help” actually looks like with regard to a lost dog. It’s like setting up a “fire drill” plan for your home – you want to plan in advance, and hope you never need it.