You probably remember singing the plaintive words as a child; “Oh where, oh where has my little dog gone? Oh where, oh where can he be?”

The simple sentences, however, do not express the terror of not being able to find your best buddy. Many missing dogs are never recovered, because their owners do not know how to effectively search for them. By knowing what to do to get your dog back, the chances of a reunion are much higher.

The minutes after your pet first goes missing are critical. Recruit friends and family members to help you look for your dog. Designate search areas, and use your cell phones to ensure you’re spread out sufficiently. Make sure searchers know to call for the dog in a happy voice. If your dog is responsive to certain words, “cookie” or “ball,” for example, use these as you call. “Fluffy, do you want a cookie?” If the dog is spotted, do not chase him. Instead, whoever sees the dog should stop where they are, crouch down and call the dog in a calm tone. If the person spying the dog is not someone with whom the dog is familiar, the owner should be notified to come to the location.

If you don’t find your dog immediately, you will need to take additional steps. The key to getting your dog back is getting word out that he is missing. Post on Craig’s List, take out ads in area newspapers and read the “found dog” listings carefully. Be aware that someone who finds your pet may not get the description correct. To many people, any black dog is a “lab mix” so if the ad you’re reading is a match in any way, it’s worth calling and inquiring. After a day or two on his own, your normally white and tan Lhasa might appear to be a gray and black mutt, so if the size and sex are correct, follow-up to be sure it isn’t your dog. Use social media to your advantage, too. If you have Facebook, post about your missing dog there, and encourage your friends to share the post on their pages. Recently, I was part of a reunion where a dog training student saw a lost lab I was temporarily sheltering. When she got on Facebook, a friend of my student had posted about her cousin’s lost dog. The friend’s cousin’s dog was the same one I was caring for, and we were able to reunite dog and owner.