Category Archives: Rewards

We Don’t Recommend Offering a Reward for Your Missing Dog



Are rewards a good idea? Many lost dog articles in print and on the internet recommend offering a reward to increase the chance of getting your dog back. We don’t agree. We have based our opinion on thousands of successful recoveries. In this article we would like to explain our reasoning based on the three possible scenarios for your missing dog:

1.If your dog is shy; offering a reward does exactly what we DON’T want people to do.  It encourages people to chase your dog in order to get the reward. We have an eyewitness account of a woman chasing an extremely shy dog across a corn field with a ham sandwich because she wanted the reward money.   It could easily have had tragic consequences because she was chasing him directly towards a busy highway. Luckily the dog was recovered safely, but it took two more weeks and the dog had gone an additional twenty miles. This added extra expense and stress for the already stressed-out owners.

Your strategy with a shy dog should be to encourage the dog to “settle” into an area and relax.  Regular meals at a feeding station will allow the dog to return to a more domesticated state of mind and will give you the best opportunity to capture him.

2. If your lost dog has been picked up by a Good Samaritan, their motive will be to return the dog to a loving home. Even if they have already kept or rehomed your dog, they will feel guilty or be afraid they will be “ratted out” by their neighbors.   You can always offer them a small token of your appreciation for their time and trouble after you have your dog back safely.

Your strategy should be to file a police report immediately so that you have started the paper trail that may be necessary if your dog has been kept or rehomed.  You will also need to flyer very heavily and use intersection signs. Put a sign in front of your own house also! Keep checking your local shelters. Remember, the Good Samaritan is motivated to return your dog by seeing how much you miss him.

3. If your dog has been trulystolen (somebody broke into your car, residence or business with the intent of stealing your dog and/or other possessions) and you feel that their motive is greed; you still don’t need to put a reward on the flyer.  The thieves will be watching for your flyers and ads and will contact you to ask for a reward.  Make sure you have contacted the police and have them accompany you when you arrange to meet the thieves.

Offering a reward for a missing dog has these other detrimental effects:

1. It encourages scammers to contact you, who do not have your dog and may never even have seen your dog.  But they have seen your flyers and ads offering a reward. They might email you pictures that look like your dog; these may be photo shopped, or taken from your Facebook page.  The scammers will want to meet you at a location to exchange cash for your dog. Call the police immediately if you are approached by somebody that says they have your dog but you must give them money to get your dog back. Otherwise you will have no money and no dog.

2.  It makes it harder for the next person who loses their dog, especially if they can’t afford to offer a reward.  Rewards encourage scammers, thieves and dognapping.

3. It “legitimizes” dognapping and encourages people to hold out for a reward, perhaps even Good Samaritans.  Stealing a dog or keeping a dog that you have found is illegal. Extortion is illegal.  We need to keep emphasizing this in order for it to be taken seriously by law enforcement and the public.

The buck stops with you! Please don’t publicize a reward for your missing dog on your flyers and ads.   Let’s all work together to help more lost dogs get home safely.

Our tips, ideas and articles are based on information gathered from thousands of successful lost dog recoveries. Any advice or suggestions made by Lost Dogs of Wisconsin/Lost Dogs Illinois is not paid-for professional advice and should be taken at owner’s discretion.


Rewards are a bad idea when trying to catch the elusive dog… Part 3 of a series

Toby bolted from the sound of fireworks. But you have it all under control. You haven’t allowed your friends and family to “search” for Toby. There will be lots of ways they can help soon. Instead, you have stayed calm and placed Toby’s bed, food, water and familiar scented articles out for him. If he is not pursued, there is a very high likelihood that he might return on his own.

BUT, you don’t want to count on that, so you need to be preparing the next steps: Steps 2, 3, 4 and 5 of the Five Things to Do If You Have Lost Your Dog. This is where your family and friends can help: printing flyers, making signs and contacting all of the local authorities to let them know that Toby is missing. Remember to put one sign at the spot he went missing from. Organize one group of people to make phone calls and place internet ads, and another to make signs. Another group will be needed to deliver flyers door to door in the area where he went missing.

Remember, that you need to have ONE point person, preferably the owner to handle all of the incoming phone calls and sightings. Here is a great article on the importance of changing your voicemail message to let everyone know that you are missing your dog.

Now to the subject of rewards. Although you may see many websites and articles that recommend offering a reward for your dog, we highly discourage it with a shy dog or one that has any of the 5 risk factors that will predispose him to being elusive. The reason is pretty simple. People seeking the reward will assume they have to catch Toby to claim the reward. They will approach or pursue Toby driving him even further out of the area. The further you spread the word about a reward, the further he will go. Pretty soon, he will be so far out of your flyering area, that there is a good chance the owner will give up hope out of frustration and despair. Remember, your goal is to LURE Toby back – and that means it has to be easy for him to come back, with no pressure or scary people trying to grab him.

Leave the reward off the flyer, folks! When Toby is safely back home, you may want to reward somebody that has helped you, but don’t risk your dog’s life by offering a reward for a shy or frightened dog.  Part 4

Our tips, ideas and articles are based on information gathered from over thousands of lost dog recoveries. Any advice or suggestions made by Lost Dogs of Wisconsin/Lost Dogs Illinois is not paid-for professional advice and should be taken at owner’s discretion.