Tia is an animal rescuer with a big heart, and you can see that she will try anything to get the poor pups into safe hands. Using a little creativity and a lot of patience, she was able to rescue this famished beagle who had lost all trust in people, but even after the simple rope technique didn’t work, Tia did not give up!
We checked in with our friends at Petfinder to see if they had some tips for how to catch dogs who are very afraid of people. There, we found some excellent ideas by The Missing Pet Partnership regarding what one could try when attempting to catch a skittish or hard-to-reach dog – or even a cat!
Most rescuers will try to call the dog to get them to come to them. As it turns, out, that is a big mistake. Rule number one is: Never call a stray dog to come to you. Other “don’ts” include: don’t walk towards the dog, don’t pat your leg, and don’t look the dog in the eyes. Skittish dogs tend to have a fight or flight temperament. When a would-be rescuer pats their leg or walks toward a fearful dog, the dog interprets the “Come here dog, come here pup” body language as a threat, causing even more fear and adrenaline.
Also, if the rescuer sounds panicked, it makes the dog that much more afraid. This happens a lot when the owner is chasing their dog and it is approaching traffic or another dangerous situation.
Here are the DO’s:
- Tap into your inner Academy Award-winning actor side and demonstrate a sense of calm. Look to the side while keeping the dog in your periphery vision.
- Try not to stand. You can squat or sit on the grass, if there is grass, or even get fully on the ground.
- Have a noisy or crinkly bag of potato chips with pieces of hot dogs inside on hand. Use it to make noise that the dog will associate with yummy goodness! You can say, “NUM, NUMMY, NUMALISCOIUS!” or whatever your acting repertoire has worked with your dog in the past and also pretend to drop some of those yummy treats on the ground. This way you don’t seem threatening to the dog and they are interested in the treats you’ve spilled.
- You can then kneel down and act like you’re retrieving those treats and eating them yourself, but the main thing is to allow the dog to come to you.
- Have a humane trap set up if you plan on capturing the dog, you can also use your car to trap the dog.
- If you see a stray dog, try not to make direct eye contact. Instead, watch the dog out of the corner of your eye. Use lots of patience as the whole process may take a while.
The Missing Pets Partnership operates out of Seattle, Washington. You can find more tips on their MPP’s Panicked Pet page.