How to Rescue a Stray Dog

Rescuing a stray dog could be one of the most rewarding things you will ever do, but that’s not to say the process will be easy. Most of the time it can be stressful and upsetting. Fear of the unknown may distract you from what really matters - getting the stray dog to safety. After all, what if it was your own dog? 

how to rescue a stray dog

So you’ve found a dog? Now what? 

We’ve created a step by step guide on how to go about your first rescue without getting in over your head.

Catch the dog safely 

A frightened dog will often behave unpredictably.  Try to avoid making sudden movements or loud noises as this may cause them to panic and possibly run onto a busy road or into the dangerous situation you’re trying to save them from. 

Chasing a stray dog in the hope of catching them is a common mistake people make when trying to make a rescue. Think about it - what would happen if you chased your dog? The odds of them running away from you playfully are probably pretty high. Instead, try running the opposite direction away from the dog in the hope that they will chase you. 

Try using calming signals to show them you are no threat to them. This could include yawning, getting down to the dog's level, and moving towards them from the side instead of head-on. When doing this your body language is telling the dog that you aren’t intimidating. 

Use these methods to attempt to channel them into a confined area. Often opening your car door and luring them in with treats or simply standing back is enough to get them to jump in the car willingly. If the dog does not have a collar you can use a belt or tie to make a leash for subtle encouragement. 

Both you and the dog’s safety should be the number one priority, so If the dog becomes aggressive or the situation becomes dangerous, it is time to call animal control for assistance. 

Key points:

  • Avoid sudden movements and noises 
  • Try running away from the dog instead of running after them
  • Use calming signals such as yawning
  • Get down to their level
  • Use food to gain trust
  • Make a leash out of a belt or tie
  • Open your car door for them to willingly jump in
  • Call for back up if the dog is aggressive 

How to catch a stray dog infographic

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Transport to safety

If possible take the dog straight to the vet instead of your home. Explain to the vet that you rescued her and ask them to examine her for any injuries or illnesses. The vet will also be able to scan for a microchip to see if she has/had a home and guide you from there. 

In circumstances where there is no microchip, the vet will tell you if she is safe to go home with you or advise you to have her stay the night.  Depending on the vet and the country, there may be a cost to this.

Taking her home

If you decide to try to find the owner yourself, it would be ideal to contact a local animal shelter first. This is so you can provide a description in case the owners contact them.   Vets as well sometimes have notice boards where information about lost or found dogs can be placed.

Now let the search party begin. Post pictures on relevant Facebook groups to see if anyone recognizes the dog or knows the owners.  To find these groups try searching “missing dog” or “found dog” followed by your city. Or try other useful sites such as Pet Finder.

Print out “found dog” posters with her picture and your phone number and put them up around the spot you found her.


If you are unable to find her owners and cannot keep her yourself, it’s time to find her a new home. Please bear in mind that despite the best efforts of shelters and rescues, your home may be the best place for her while you're looking for her forever family.

A photo can make or break a potential adopter's interest, so always take the time to get that perfect shot. Try to get a photo where she looks happy and smiling. If this is challenging for your rescue dog, try playing with her for a few minutes before snapping the shot. You can also use food and squeaky toys to get her to look into the camera showcasing their irresistible puppy dog eyes. Avoid photos in cages, photos out of focus, and photos showing their teeth. 

When finding a place to advertise, the most effective place is Facebook. With millions of potential adopters and thousands in your area, you have an audience right in front of your screen. Follow the same prompts to find an appropriate Facebook group as you did when trying to locate the owners, but change “found” to “adopt”. 

Join as many local “dog lover” and “dog rescue” Facebook groups that allow users to post about dogs for adoption. Remember to encourage the group members to share the post to maximize the audience. Now, the chances of your post reaching someone that’s looking to adopt are looking good. 

You found someone

So you’ve sifted through all the interested adopters – but have you found the perfect match? Preferably you’ve taken the dog to meet the new owners before locking in the adoption.  Meeting the owners beforehand is important to avoid the risk of her being unwanted once again.  Sometimes too, it is a good idea for there to be a trial period to make sure everyone gets along.

If you’ve done all this...Hooray!! Well done, you have most likely successfully saved a life.  

Caring for those who cannot always care for themselves is what makes us as humans good. If you want to save more lives there are thousands of rescue organizations and not for profits to support around the world. 

“The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

- Mahatma Gandhi 

You Have The Power To Rescue Hundreds Of Dogs

Dogs in Bali are unfortunately under a constant threat of being abused, killed for their meat, poisoned, dumped and neglected. Findings suggest that each year, up to 100,000 dogs face tremendous and unimaginable pain in order to supply the island’s dog meat (“RW”) restaurants.

There are many ways you can help us to rescue these Bali dogs and cats, whether you are in Bali or wherever else! From fostering to funding to sharing our work on your social media platforms, there are so many ways to support the cause and help us help animals.

Find out more about how you can help by visiting our Ways To Help Page.



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  • amelia brown

    It may be one of the most satisfying things you ever do to save a stray dog, but that doesn’t mean it will be simple. It can frequently be distressing and frustrating. Getting the stray puppy to safety may take priority over what actually important because of your fear of the unknown. What if that was your own dog, after all? Check out more details on PetCareRx website.

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