Before you conclude that you have a hard to trap dog, make sure that you are effectively using your dog trap.
- Is your trap big enough?
- Is the trap stable? Make sure that the trap doesn’t move at all when your dog steps into it.
- Did you cover the wire with something your dog would feel comfortable walking on? Some dogs don’t like the feel of wire under their feet.
- Don’t cover the trap unless your dog is comfortable entering a confined space.
Try to have patience and keep the trap in the same location for at least one week. As much as possible don’t change anything about the appearance and if possible keep to a routine when you put in food and check the trap. Some dogs just need time to adjust to the trap. If s/he won’t even go near the trap, then start with the food about 10-20 feet away and slowly move it closer each day until it is in in front of the trap. Then slowly move the food farther into the trap each day that it is eaten. Don’t set the trap until your dog is comfortably eating out of the back of the trap.
If your dog still won’t go trap, then you may need to either improvise or build an enclosure trap. This is basically any fenced-in or otherwise enclosed area, that you can manually or remotely close when you observe your dog entering the trap. This could be as simple as a shed door left open with a rope leading from the door to someone sitting in a car. An enclosure trap can also be designed using a chain link dog kennel or be custom built out of some other material. Whatever you use, it is really important to ensure that the dog cannot jump out of the trap, and some dogs are capable of jumping six foot fences. Since the trap must be constantly monitored to catch the dog, these traps are more effective if the lost dog is first conditioned to eat out of the trap.
A captured dog may be extremely fearful, so do not attempt to enter the trap until he has been restrained. The easiest method is to get a slip lead on him while he is still in the trap. You might also consider calling animal control to assist with a snare or catch-pole. For harder to handle dogs, Global Wildlife Resources provides good information on humane restraint techniques. They also have instructions for building a very large enclosure trap that is used to trap entire packs of feral dogs.
Here is an example of an enclosure trap being used with a hing door. These are easier to build, but take longer to close and the door takes up room in the trap. This makes it more likely that the skittish lost dog has more of a chance to escape before the door closes. This is my dog doing a demo so he isn’t scared and I didn’t attempt to shut the door very quickly.
Here is an example of another enclosure trap that has a guillotine type door. These are much more effective because the door comes down so quickly. However, it is extremely important to make sure that the dog does not get caught and potentially injured in the closing door. This particular door is made with a heavy corrugated plastic and has foam pipe insulation along the edge.