Guidelines for Catching Dogs

Over the years we have heard many sad stories about dogs. For people who lose a pet dog it’s like losing a family member, a loved ‘child.’ We can sympathize as we personally treat our dogs like they are our kids.

I’ll address the domestic dog issue first. If your dog has gone missing, call local shelters, animal control, the police, etc. to see if someone has picked up your dog running loose. Many times, the dog is at the pound or animal shelter, waiting for you to pick him up. If not, then put up posters, phone neighbors, have them look in their yards and outbuildings, contact Craig’s List, put a lost dog ad in your local newspaper, it’s important to communicate as much as you can that your dog is missing. If you receive reports that your dog has been spotted in a certain area, that’s where you should concentrate your search. Someone may be feeding the dog or there is a ready food supply that is keeping him or her in a certain place.

Suggested Animal Traps to Use
If you decide to use a trap, make sure it is large enough to accommodate your dog. Hot dogs are good as bait, if it rains or snows, the hot dog remains intact. Meat of any kind also works but make sure it is fresh or cooked. Spoiled meat or fish can make your dog sick. Don’t use raw or cooked chicken with bones. Your dog could choke on the bones. Put a piece of clothing, a favorite toy or his dog blanket in the trap. This scent will be familiar to your dog. Make sure the bait is placed behind the trip plate so he has to walk to the back and step on the trip pan to reach the bait. If your dog is hesitant to go into the trap, tie the trap door up for a few days, baiting in the center of the trap, this gets the dog used to going in and out for food. On the 4 or 5th day, untie the trap door and place the bait behind the trigger. Covering the trap with an old blanket might be more enticing for your dog. The dog might feel more secure if he/she feels hidden. Of course, we recommend using high quality animal handling gloves for your protection against scratches and bites.

Evening at dusk is the best time to trap. The weather is cooler and your dog will tend to come out of hiding to search for food. Make sure other people are absent as the voices and movements might prevent your dog from coming out. You might have to leave and let the trap do its work. Check early in the morning or as often as you can to see if you were successful. You might find another dog in your trap and have to start over with the procedure.

Trapping wild feral dogs
It’s very hard, sometimes impossible to tell the difference between a stray and feral dog. Stray dogs have been abandoned or lost and survive by eating human garbage or hunt prey for their meals. If the stray is not spay/neutered, it will breed with another stray or feral dog and then you have true feral puppies. Dogs of this nature tend to pack or travel in groups. They will make homes in old coyote or fox dens, under buildings, even under old abandoned vehicles or machinery. They will prey on livestock, chickens, rabbits, rodents, mice and, of course, garbage cans.

Methods of trapping are the same. But release of these dogs is different. If you can, call your local animal control to come to you to get the dog out of the trap. They have the necessary equipment to get the wild dog out of the trap and handle the dog after it’s out of the trap. You cannot trust a feral dog. It has been born in the wild without human contact and can be very aggressive. Only those trained in this area should approach or remove the trapped dogs. If the stray of any pack has been a domesticated dog, there’s a chance, with lots of love, care and attention, that this animal can be socialized again and become adoptable. With grown, feral dogs, this is almost impossible. If you trap a stray dog that is lactating, chances are she has a batch of puppies nearby. If feral puppies are caught at a very early age, the chances of socialization are much better and they can usually be adopted out.

The saddest calls of all are the dogs that are raised to fight then are abandoned with horrible wounds and trauma. They are dumped in the country and are forced to live on their own means, if they don’t succumb to their injuries first. County animal control most times ends up shooting or euthanizing these dogs to put them out of their misery. These dogs also will pack and can do great damage to the wildlife and livestock in an area. They also cannot be trusted not to turn on humans, especially children.

We suggest the same traps for stray and feral dogs as the domesticated dogs. Tru-Catch traps are so quiet that if you miss the dog on the 1st try, they will often go back into the trap again and again as the trap does not traumatize the dogs when the door closes. Spring load traps are also very effective for trapping stray or feral dogs. The advantage is that the trap door locks into place so if the trap is rolled, the trap door cannot come open. The disadvantage is that the trap door is noisier than a gravity trap door and could scare the other dogs watching the trapping procedure.

Folding traps are very popular with animal control agencies. The fact that they fold up like a suitcase for storage and that it fits into a trunk of a car, makes it easier to get the trap to where it needs to be set. A trap Divider and a catch pole are very handy accessories. You put the divider through the top of the trap, pinning the dog in the back part of the trap. Open the front door, then take the catch pole and reach through the tines of the divider and loop the dogs neck. Pull out the divider and you have a restrained dog, ready to lead off into animal control vehicle. Make sure you are using high quality gloves to prevent scratches and biting.

Unlike cats, skunks, raccoons, etc., you cannot let the dogs loose in the wild. They must be taken to a shelter to have the vaccines and care that is needed. They will be deemed adoptable or unadoptable. There are TNR programs for dogs and now dog colonies are being set up. A spayed or neutered dog is not as aggressive as one that is un-spayed/neutered. If the colony is fenced in and has excellent management where the dogs are fed, watered and socialized daily, they can spend the rest of their years in the company of other dogs and live a good life.

This information is only a guideline and is not all inclusive on dogs or trapping dogs. We encourage you to research more about feral and stray dogs and TNR rescue programs in your area. We wish you a happy trapping experience.