I sometimes discover lost dogs on the street that have a collar with a tag with maybe a contact phone to reach their owner.

Since I don't know their character or if something happened and scared them or made them nervous, I have to admit I am a bit scared to put my hand under their mouth and reach for their collar tag.

My question is: What is the best and safest way to reach and read the tag on the collar of a lost dog that you haven't met before, without risking your hand being bitten?

  • 2
    There is no easy answer. Unless you are prepared to treat the dog rather roughly, your choices are to try to make friends with it or to keep your distance. In the US, I would suggest you call Animal Control, help guide them to the dog, and let them handle this; they have experience (and vaccinations) you don't .
    – keshlam
    Jul 21, 2016 at 13:18
  • I'm not in the US but I'm trying to figure out a way to contact the owners rather than calling Animal Control or a service like that. So far the best solution I can thik of is make friends, but that requires time and sometimes I don't have enough..
    – papakias
    Jul 21, 2016 at 13:27

1 Answer 1


I guess there is no correct answer, but this is what can be suggested:

  • If you see a dog which you think needs help, don't come too close the first time. You need to understand, whether the dog is frightened, scared, aggressive, friendly, etc.

  • Don't keep back too close. The dog should see you, again, in case it's frightened or aggressive (dog may think you want to attack her and attack first).

  • If dog is calm, doesn't roar or show its teeth, take its collar with a strong hand. Remember, dogs can feel your fear or weakness. It doesn't mean it will bite you, but the dog can just walk/run away. You can buy some food (sausage, piece of meat) and give it to a dog. While the dog is eating, you can easily read the tag.

  • Don't come to a dog if it's nervous, aggressive, or shows its teeth. Or if you are frightened or not sure. It's better to ask for help. As I have already said, animals perfectly feel your fear, and it's not good for you.

Here is part of a good article:

If the dog appears approachable, remember to use caution and common sense. If you are lucky enough to get close enough to capture him or her, you still stand the risk of being bitten. Even a small dog can inflict a painful wound, and if a dog whose vaccination status is unknown bites you, you will be advised to undergo expensive and painful preventative treatment for rabies.

When approaching the dog, speak calmly and reassuringly to him. Make sure he can see you at all times as you approach, and perhaps entice him to come to you by offering a morsel of food.

  • Very good answer but I was also hoping for a more detailed description about any special move that I coud do or a position that I should put the dog in order to read the tag easily and safely.
    – papakias
    Jul 26, 2016 at 15:37
  • 1
    @papakias There's no 100% safe way to do so, especially considering how flexible some dogs can be. I can grab one of our dog's neck (an Alaskan Husky) and he'd still be able to turn his head almost 180° to nab at my fingers trying to stop me. But apart from that, leave the dogs all freedom. If you're not sure whether you'd be bitten, talk to some local shelter or expert instead.
    – Mario
    Jul 27, 2016 at 6:54
  • 1
    @papakias as Mario has said, there is no 100% safe way to read dog's tag. It depends on dog's personality, its behaviour (whether it's frightened or not, injured or not), how other people had treated dog in the past, and of course your abilities of communication with pets. Everything depends on situation. It's good option to use food to calm dog down and to make it trust you. But if you aren't sure you can do it, find volnteers (usually there are in every city/country) and ask for help or advice
    – Dude
    Jul 27, 2016 at 7:04
  • I guess you're right guys. Thanks for your replies.
    – papakias
    Jul 27, 2016 at 10:25
  • good luck, @papakias :) And don't be afraid. Most of the lost dogs are not agressive, just frightened. Be carefull and everything will be all right.
    – Dude
    Jul 27, 2016 at 10:36

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