Skip to main content

Boreal Community Media

Pets in the Wilderness Series: What to do if your pet becomes lost

Mar 12, 2021 05:48AM ● By Editor
Editor's note: The fifth installment in our exclusive series to educate the public on the joys, challenges, and responsibilities of pet ownership in the wilderness. From Boreal Community Media - March 12, 2021

The Retrievers is an all-volunteer team based in Minnesota that offers the tools, experience, and expertise to help owners reunite with their lost dogs.  Amy Addy is a Case Manager for the organization and shares some important tips on keeping your dog safe.

  • Be sure your dog has properly fastened ID tags on their collar - name and phone number, not just rabies tag or city license tag.
  • Be sure your dog has either a collar with their name and your number stitched/embroidered into it or write your number on the collar with a black Sharpie marker in case the tags fall off.
  • Be sure your dog is microchipped and registered - be sure to update your pet's chip registry if any of your contact information changes. 
  • Please be sure to always have your dog on a flat leash (generally, 4-6ft leash is best).  Hands-free leashes are optimal, especially if you're out hiking/jogging/camping, etc!  They are a fantastic choice because not only are your hands free, your dog is attached to you.
  • Please DO NOT use a retractable leash.  Retractable leashes (a.k.a. extendable or flexi leashes) usually have long, thin cords (or "tape"/"belt" versions) housed into a plastic compartment with a handle. The whole device is spring-loaded (which can snap or be pulled out) and a button, which acts as a brake, controls how much of the leash is extended. Flexi-leashes typically range from around 10 feet to 26 feet in length, which gives your dog too much uncontrolled space between you. Dogs can easily run out into traffic, have unintentional or invited contact with people or dogs, or get tangled up with another person or dog. The handle of most flexi-leashes can easily be ripped out of your hand by a strong or enthusiastic dog. The hard plastic handles are both bulky and slippery to hold onto (especially for Minnesotans wearing bulky gloves or mittens). If your dog bolts, they will end up dragging this noisy, plastic thing bouncing behind them. Most dogs will run farther/faster to escape the scary thing following them. Retractable leash cords/ribbons have also been known to cause serious bodily harm, including severed fingers, cuts, rope-burns and damage to dogs' legs/bodies.  
  • Be sure your dog has either a properly fitted martingale collar so they can't slip out of it and/or double up with a collar AND a properly fitted harness (we love the harness lead  
Transition Tips and Post Retrieval Safety Tips are also included - we recommend the Two-Week shutdown for ALL dogs that have been safely retrieved after being lost and ALL newly adopted dogs (regardless of where you adopted them from). To learn more about the two-week shutdown, go to or The Retrievers lost dog team (  or We have also included a "Letter From Your New Dog" which gives some insight into helping a dog transition into your home.

IF your dog does go missing, be sure to follow the attached steps ASAP and please reach out to both Missing Pets in the Northland (


The following YouTube video shows how to make intersection signs for missing dogs.  The Retrievers have shared several helpful documents which are attached as PDF's at the bottom of the article.

How to make intersection signs for missing dogs

Boreal Ship Spotter - larger view here