What to do if you find a lost or stray dog

If you were to find a lost or stray dog, would you know what to do? Here is our advice on the steps you should take.

The very first thing you should do is contact the local authority in the area where the dog was found. They will advise you on where to take the dog, or whether they will arrange a collection.

If you are unable to catch the dog, try and take a photo that you can show to the dog warden, and get a good description. This is so they can be aware of the dog. Lost and stray dogs are the legal responsibility of the local authority. 

The first thing to do, would be to go onto your local council's website and look for 'dog warden or stray/lost dog'. As a guide, below is a list of local authority numbers nearest to our centres:

Berkshire centre

  • West Berkshire dog warden 01635 50 36 71
  • Reading dog warden 0118 93 73 787
  • Wokingham dog warden 01635 50 36 71
  • Windsor And Maidenhead dog warden 08444 82 83 21
  • Bracknell Forest dog warden 01344 35 20 00
  • Buckinghamshire Milton Keynes dog warden 01908 980204
  • Aylesbury Vale dog warden 03444 82 83 38
  • Wycombe dog warden 01494 42 17 34
  • Chiltern dog warden 01494 73 20 58
  • South Bucks dog warden 01895 83 72 64
  • Vale of the white horse 01235422403
  • Swindon dog warden 03444828320
  • SDK Environmental 0344828350 covers most areas
  • Noahs ark (mainly out of hours service )03335775070

Cornwall centre

  • Cornwall (Environmental Health Department) – 0300 1234212

    Out of hours – 01872 224521

    Essex centre (Clacton)

    • Tendring District Council – 01255 686766

    Email – dogwardens@tendringdc.gov.uk

    Hertfordshire centre

    • Hertsmere – 0845 300 0021
    • Watford – 01923 278 503
    • Three Rivers – 01923 776 611
    • Dacorum – 01442 228 418
    • St Albans – 01727 819 371
    • Harrow – 020 8863 5611

    It is also worth reporting it to www.doglost.co.uk, as they may be aware of this dog, and could contact the owner to let them know.

    If a dog is tied up in a public space, this should then be reported to the RSPCA, as this would be treated as dog abandonment.

    You must only approach a dog if you feel it is friendly and is happy to greet you. Do not chase, as you could frighten it and make it run further away.

    Dog survival mode (fight or flight mode)

    A dog in survival mode will be focused on getting its basic needs met - water, food, shelter, and safety from perceived threats. Therefore, if you see a lost dog, make sure to stop and access the situation.

    It is crucial you stay calm, and be patient, letting the dog approach you in its own time.

    Stay where you are, turn side on and lower your head gaze to minimise seeming like a threat to the dog.

    Keep the dog in your peripheral view, slowly crouch down and then use food to build trust, then drop or gently throw a treat on the ground nearby.