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Discussion Starter #1
I found a lost dog on Friday. He's very small (less than 10lbs), but seems to be pretty well taken care of, and I don't think that he had been lost for long. But I've gone to all of my neighbors and posted flyers everywhere, and no one has claimed him yet.

So far, he's having to stay in the back yard for 2 reasons: (1) he's not neutered, and I have a similarly sized female, and (2) he's marking everything. But this isn't ideal because he could potentially get out if he digs under the fence, and even though it's not likely, there's also a risk of wild animals getting in the yard and fighting him.

At what point do I give up the hunt for the proper owners, and start my own training? What about medical things, like neutering, shots, etc?
 

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You can start training now regardless of whether or not he's claimed. If they do claim him, no harm done if he knows a little bit of obedience.
 

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Have you made sure to check the lost reports at your local shelters and rescues? A lot of people look there first (and sometimes ONLY there) when pets get lost. Also, it would be wise to let the shelters know so that IF someone calls in looking for a dog matching the one you found, they can pass on your information.

I know you said you checked with all your neighbors but some dogs really travel when they get loose - so you just need to be sure to thoroughly exhaust your surrounding area when it comes to the owner search.

As for training, I think you can start that now, even without knowing the eventual outcome. It can't hurt any. For drastic changes like neutering, I would likely wait a month at least. That probably seems a little long but there have been cases of people finding their dogs have extended lost periods. I'd just want to be sure beforehand.

Another option would be to take him down to your local shelter and wait for his 'stray' period to expire. Many shelters allow the rescuer to put their name down so that when the dog goes up for adoption, you're first on the list. This would allow you to have legal claim over the dog and you wouldn't have to worry about any time limit or sudden appearance of the old owner.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I guess that I should elaborate a little. I had typed up a lot more, but was afraid that I was rambling. :)

I live in a very rural area, so the nearest neighbor is 1/2 mile away. Because I'm surrounded by woods, though, it's not uncommon for a neighbor to be 4-5 miles away when you drive, but you could walk to their house through the woods in about a mile. So, there are literally hundreds of possible houses for this dog.

Because I'm in a rural area, there are NO safe shelters or rescues for dogs here. We have a pound, but it's not a no-kill shelter. Full-blooded dogs are kept for 7 days, but others might only be for a few days. They say that they hold all dogs for 7 days, but it's simply not true.

In this county, there's an online message board that most people visit, and it's posted there. There are 3 grocery stores within about 20 minutes of here, and I've posted flyers at all 3. I'll be posting flyers at the local vets office, too, and at the two groomers in the county (although the grooming job that he's had doesn't look professional).

I believe that I'll start training tomorrow, if for no other reason than to establish dominance. I have another fairly new male dog (7 months), and I'm hoping that his obedience will rub off.

My real concern is with the neutering, though. My female is over 12 years old, and she could get hurt easily. The found dog acts quite a bit eager around her, even though she's spayed, so I would be afraid to leave them together for any length of time. But because of his size, I can't leave him outside for much longer, either.

Which takes me back to the etiquette question. If I go buy a small crate then I can bring him in, but I really wouldn't want to do to much without a vet visit. At this point, though, I'm racking up some expense on the dog. Is it fair to ask the owner to pay you back?
 
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