Dear Paris, My dog is shy and doesn’t like children to rush up to him when we’re walking. I also don’t like adults–who should know better–instantly stopping and petting my dog. What’s the best way to exercise my dog but, at the same time, let other people know that my dog doesn’t want to greet either new people or new dogs?
Some dogs (like our Tiki) love any and all attention. Others (like our shy Irie) are more reluctant to meet strangers. Irie enjoys meeting new people in her own time; if they stop and chat with us for a while, she’ll usually walk over to say hi but, in a short encounter, she feels a little stressed with new people.
And, of course, there are other dogs that feel aggressive with either new people or new dogs.
We’ve heard of several ideas, all good because they do get people thinking and talking about the concept that not every dog wants to meet and greet! The Yellow Ribbon Campaign promotes the use of a yellow ribbon or yellow bandana tied to the dog’s leash or collar to signal that the dog needs extra space. Similarly, a red ribbon can be used to show that the dog might be aggressive, much like the horse world has used a red ribbon on horse’s tails to indicate ones who might kick.
However, some people, seeing the red or yellow ribbon, might not recognize the significance of the color.
We just saw these “pet flags” as one of this week’s sale items on Coupaw.com, especially designed for shy dogs:
…and this one for dogs that need space and shouldn’t be approached:
We love the idea of combining both the signaling color of the yellow or red bandana with the words to really get the point across. (Coupaw.com has some other flags as well including a cute adoption one we love that would be great for adoption events!)
I think it’s our job to watch out for our dogs and to make sure we’re putting them in situations where they’re safe and happy; in turn, that will keep others, both dogs and humans, safe and happy as well. Along with choosing a walking route that you think will not be crowded, I think a bandana or flag is a great first step. If that doesn’t work and someone is approaching your dog without taking notice of the bandana, then it may mean needing to say (or shout) to someone to stay back because your dog does not want to be approached. I think that’s perfectly acceptable!