One dog walking tool might help provide better experiences in social situations
Lorrie Shaw | Contributor
Are you surprised?
In my experience, when some people see a dog approaching on a leash, it gives them a false sense that the dog that they see is well-mannered and can handle a face-to-face meeting with a fellow canine.
In a perfect world, that would make sense. Things just don’t work that way, though.
The issue of healthy ways to redirect a dog’s unwanted behavior has been fodder for much discussion, and I’m glad to see that the dialogue has been vigorous. Positive training techniques are a must, whether you’re training a puppy, an adolescent or adult dog. In the latter two cases, it’s not uncommon for some of these pets to be working through behavioral issues or physical problems (like a recent surgery) that are not easily identifiable: A canine may seem fine upon a distant observation, but get close, and you might even find it difficult to detect a shift in behavior that can be aggravated by the too-close proximity to another dog. Sadly, I often find that the dog on either leash is demonstrating that they are finding the situation challenging, but the other human is not recognizing it.
It’s not unusual for me to hear that human exclaim as they allow an approach that’s too close for comfort, “Don’t worry! My dog is friendly!” (We dog professionals refer to this as MDIF, by the way.) Then I respond, “But this dog has difficulty, so it’s appreciated that you please give them a little space.”
I have several clients who are in the process of learning to be better socialized (and admittedly yes, some of them will never change). Others have had a recent surgery, or have painful injuries or arthritis. Some are seniors and do not see or hear well, and that can complicate sociability.
A fellow dog professional from Maine, Jess Dolce coined the acronym MDIF and another phrase that everyone with a dog needs to know: Dogs In Need Of Space, or DINOS and wrote about the topic in 2011.
Along with that, wouldn’t it be great if there were another way to offer a visual signal to others who are accompanying another dog while out on a walk? John Speiser, a professional dog trainer and contributor for AnnArbor.com pets section broached this topic before. Speiser indicated that perhaps if dogs wore colored bandanas to signify temperament that would help facilitate more peace in social situations where dogs are concerned.
In reading the comments, the idea was well-received.
A new dog walking tool that uses the same premise might just be the thing.
Friendly Dog Collars, a company based in the United Kingdom. has created collars and harnesses that come in attention-getting colors with clear phrases like “friendly”, “no dogs” and “caution”.
I think it’s a pretty nifty concept. Would you consider getting a harness and collar like this for your dog? Tell us your thoughts.