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Collar coding your dog and other ways to prevent human-canine mishaps

You love your dog and the feeling is mutual. After all, with all due respect to our beloved felines, dogs do have the distinction of being “man’s best friend.” But does your dog love everyone else? And can you always predict what your dog will do when on a walk or even in your house when strangers are around.

Maybe your best friend is nervous around other dogs, so when approached by someone with another dog, your pooch panics or gets aggressive. Noises can unnerve a dog as we well know from the number of dogs that bolt when July 4th fireworks go off. Or your dog on a walk may become fixated on wildlife – ground squirrels can become moving targets – and not in a frame of mind for a human “meet and greet.” Health problems also can arouse a less than positive response when a dog is approached.

In all such circumstances, even the most ardent dog fans may not get the response they anticipate when all that they want to say hi and offer a pet. So out of love for your pet and concern for others, there are things you can do to keep others at a safe distance and prevent mishaps between dogs and people.

Visual cues

Among doggie paraphernalia are color-coded collars and tags to signify specific behavioral or health issues your dog may have. Modeling traffic signs, the colors indicate:

  • Red: Caution, do not approach

  • Green: Friendly

  • Yellow: Nervous when approached so behavior is unpredictable (also used to indicate available for adoption)

Other colors signal:

  • Orange: No dogs

  • Blue: Training or working so do not disturb

  • White: Blind or deaf dog

  • Purple: Do not feed

You also can use colored ribbons if you don’t want to purchase a specially made collar or tag, such as the one shown in the photo available from and made by RC Pets.

Speak up for your dog

If you don’t have a colored collar or tag, then be direct when someone asks to pet your dog. It’s sufficient to advise someone to “Please don’t get near my dog,” without offering any further explanation. If you feel the need to explain, you could add something to the effect that, “my dog doesn’t like to be approached by others” or “my dog doesn’t like to be petted by strangers.”

You also can let your pet decide if he or she wants to be petted. As Fanna Easter writes in

if someone moves toward your dog with hand outstretched, asking to pet your dog, step between your dog and the person. Then say,” Let’s ask my dog first.” If your dog walks over to greet the individual, reinforce calm behavior such as getting your dog to sit or not jump.

It’s great that others want to “show the love” to your beloved dog. But you know your dog. There are times when you have to “just say no.”



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