If your dog has been lost for several days, an unlikely thing will happen—when they see you again, they will very likely run away from you. It's hard to believe, but it's true (and it's not because they don't love you!). You see, when your dog is lost, they go into survival mode, and when they're in survival mode, their priorities change. First and foremost, they'll start worrying about predators. This includes you. That's why if your dog has been lost on their own for long enough, they'll run away from you or anyone who is going toward them—they see you as a potential threat to their safety.
Here are some tips on how to approach your dog when you find them:
1. Slowly approach your dog. Any sudden movements may make your dog think you're on the attack, so approach her as slowly as you can, watching for any cues that she may flee. Stop if you see these signs and when she calms down a little, move slowly toward her again, approaching slowly with your arms at your sides.
2. Lure your dog with treats. When you get close enough to your dog, stay close to the ground to assume a submissive position, then toss some treats in her direction. Smile at her with your lips (not your teeth—she might think you're baring your teeth at her) and continue giving her treats until she's comfortable with you being close to her.
3. Make sure your friends don't distract your dog. Your friends may be kindly enthusiastic about helping you reunite with your pup, but any distraction from them (including them calling your dog's name) may break the focus it takes to lure your dog to you. Let your friends know ahead of time that when the moment comes, they need to be as calm and quiet as possible.
4. Secure your dog by her collar. When you get close enough to your dog, get a hold of your pup by whichever method with which you're most comfortable. You can attach your leash quickly to your dog's collar while she's eating the treat, or you can grab hold of her by the collar. If you pooch has lost her collar, thread your leash through the wrist loop to form a slip lead, then slide the lead around her head and lead her back to your vehicle.
Make sure you fill your cars with your dog's most familiar toys, blankets, and treats so she'll feel safe when she's in your car. It'll take a while to rehabilitate your dog to 'normal' life, but with patience, you'll be able to coax her back to being her happy self once again.
Should you lose your dog, post your pup as 'Lost' on the Finding Rover app right away. And remember, it's important to make use of the app now before your dog is lost, and take a good, easily-recognized photo of your pup so you won't have to search through old, possibly bad pictures of your dog when she's lost.