1. Capture the dog if it is safe to do so

If you are already here, reading this, then chances are you have already secured the dog in your car, home, yard or on a leash. If not, then be careful and only attempt to capture the dog if you feel comfortable and the dog seems approachable and friendly. Otherwise, call local animal control or the police non-emergency number. Then you can keep tabs on the dog until they arrive.

2. Check the dog’s tags

If the dog has tags around its neck, check it for a phone number or other identifying information. If you have to leave a message, you may want to wait an hour or two before the next step to see if you get a call back.

3. Keep tabs on the area where you found the dog

If the dog was wandering around near home, chances are good that its family will be around looking for it. So keep an eye and an ear out for someone looking for a lost dog.

4. Take the dog to a shelter or vet to be scanned for a chip

This is where a lot of people make mistakes. First, don’t wait to take the dog to get scanned. Often people wait until the next day or even longer. Meanwhile, its family is frantically searching and calling. If you can’t find a phone number on the dog’s tags, take it to a shelter immediately.

Also, people frequently assume that they can determine whether the dog has a chip. They think that it is easy to feel for one. But chips can sometimes be impossible to find without a scanner. They can move away from the shoulder or deeper inside as the dog grows. Don’t make the mistake of assuming there is no chip just because you can’t feel one.

5. Check online neighborhood groups

When someone looses their dog, often the first thing they do is to post online in places like NextDoor. Some neighborhoods have Yahoo or Google groups too. If you don’t use these services, find a neighbor who does and have them look.

If you don’t find anything, then make a post yourself. The family looking for their dog may not use these groups, but their neighbors might. Post a picture of the dog so that neighbors can recognize it.

6. Turn the dog in to an animal shelter

Many people hesitate to do this because they feel they can take better care of the dog themselves. Or, perhaps they fear what will happen to the dog if no one claims it. But the family will most likely be checking animal shelters looking for their dog. They won’t find it if you don’t turn it in.

Try to go to an animal shelter as close as possible to the location where you found the dog. Even after you have turned the dog in, you can still monitor online groups and look for posters on the street. Then if you find a match you can tell them where you took their missing pup.