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Dogs In Need Of Space
October 1, 2012 10:20 AM   Subscribe

The Yellow Dog Project is a global movement for parents of dogs in need of space. If you see a dog with a yellow ribbon or something yellow on the leash, this is a dog who needs some space. Please do not approach this dog with your dog. Please maintain distance or give this dog and his/her person time to move out of your way.

A simple solution to the common problem of approaching possibly aggressive dogs.
posted by ancillary (211 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
ahh terrific idea actually! I hope it catches on and people respect the ribbon.
posted by Mister_A at 10:22 AM on October 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


I thought it was just common sense to never approach dogs without the OK from their owner. If the dog approaches you in a friendly way, that's fine, but invading the space of an animal is no more okay than it is with a person.
posted by clockworkjoe at 10:25 AM on October 1, 2012 [5 favorites]


Parents of dogs?
posted by Outlawyr at 10:25 AM on October 1, 2012 [35 favorites]


As the parent (yes) of a dog-aggressive but otherwise wonderful whippet, I accept it as my responsibility to take up leash slack and walk a wide berth around any approaching pooches.

I won't ask you to look for any yellow ribbons if you agree not to take her barking personally.
posted by Egg Shen at 10:27 AM on October 1, 2012 [10 favorites]


Or maybe just keep your aggressive dog on a leash at all times in public?
posted by bardic at 10:27 AM on October 1, 2012 [35 favorites]


Huh, interesting. I teach/was taught to not simply approach strange animals (even with their owners) and ask before approaching (even if I was unanimaled); I can see this being an interesting reminder for non-colorblind folks. But I've got friends who show their dogs and always sport them out in yellow kerchiefs .... not sure if it's personal preference or a show requirement. Might be a problem for yellow aficionados.
posted by tilde at 10:27 AM on October 1, 2012


I think I'll start wearing a yellow ribbon when I ride the subway in the morning.
posted by bondcliff at 10:30 AM on October 1, 2012 [84 favorites]


Not a fan of a project that attempts to shift responsibility for aggressive dogs away from the owner and onto the potential victim. If your dog needs space, keep it away from other dogs and people, and verbally warn people when they look to be getting too close.
posted by Sternmeyer at 10:33 AM on October 1, 2012 [94 favorites]


The Yellow Dog Project is a global movement for parents of dogs in need of space.

Some how I read this twice before I caught "need of." This project sounds fine, but I think I should also say that I am wholeheartedly in support of a program that supports the parents of space dogs.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 10:33 AM on October 1, 2012 [40 favorites]


Or maybe just keep your aggressive dog on a leash at all times in public?

People aren't just letting their dogs run free. The point is that simply being on a leash doesn't work, because many people out in public assume that a dog is approachable and will often do so without asking. Some people are astoundingly bad at reading the 'do not touch, warning!' behaviors of dogs.

This is an attempt to mitigate that issue by raising awareness and actively 'marking' your dog as a less-social or more wary pup. It's a great effort. I hope it gains traction. (Tumblr's been rebogging infoposts like crazy, so there's that. Yay social media sites!)
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 10:34 AM on October 1, 2012 [13 favorites]


Not a fan of a project that attempts to shift responsibility for aggressive dogs away from the owner and onto the potential victim.

I consider this to be a lot like lab safety procedures; redundancy in safety measures is often a good thing.

And seriously, people will randomly walk up to dogs and rapidly try to engage with them. I swear to god this is not uncommon. Adding another level of 'hey don't try to touch my dog' cannot possibly be a bad thing, can it?
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 10:35 AM on October 1, 2012 [14 favorites]


Can I wear one?
posted by Aquaman at 10:37 AM on October 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think I'll start wearing a yellow ribbon when I ride the subway in the morning.
posted by bondcliff


Actually, a subset of people with autism spectrum disorder use red, yellow, and green tee shirts at conferences, support groups, and the like to signal whether they should or should not be approached by people they are not acquainted with.
posted by beelzbubba at 10:37 AM on October 1, 2012 [8 favorites]


Or maybe just keep your aggressive dog on a leash at all times in public?

C'mon, take two seconds to click the link. Note how all the cartoon dogs are on leash. The yellow ribbon is an additional warning.
posted by purpleclover at 10:38 AM on October 1, 2012 [9 favorites]


many people out in public assume that a dog is approachable and will often do so without asking

Actually, this has not been my experience. Even children always ask me first if they can pet my dog.

Dogs on the other hand have no clue. (Silly dogs.)
posted by Egg Shen at 10:38 AM on October 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


I rescued a pit bull who was incredibly loving towards humans, but considered most other dogs to be a threat. I kept her on a leash at all times, of course.

The issue was that other people just let their dogs loose. Half the time I'd walk my dog, I'd encounter off-leash dogs rushing up to us, provoking Gracie into a complete frenzy. I'd be trying to fend off the other person's dog, trying to get Gracie calmed down, and there the other dog owner would be, jogging towards the fracas, leash in hand, inevitably yelling "Don't worry! He's friendly!"

There are designated dog parks all over this town. If your dog needs off-leash time, take them there. There's no excuse to have your dog off-leash in a public area.
posted by MrVisible at 10:39 AM on October 1, 2012 [36 favorites]


Yeah I don't like this for a bunch of reasons. Biggest for me is that the yellow ribbon is a confusing signal and it will never gain mass awareness.

Something like a simple muzzle harness (not a full muzzle) is way more obvious and also can prevent actual bites from happening.
posted by 2bucksplus at 10:39 AM on October 1, 2012 [9 favorites]


When you have a kid all dogs are assumed bogey until the owner says otherwise. Still, advvance notice is nice.
posted by Artw at 10:39 AM on October 1, 2012


The Old Yeller Dog Project: give this dog some space; he has rabies.
posted by MuffinMan at 10:40 AM on October 1, 2012 [22 favorites]


When I read the headline I thought it was for dogs who, like, live in apartments and need to find a place to run around, and that the yellow ribbon meant if you have a big backyard, you could be like, hey, come over to my place doggy!

As someone who has had aggressive dogs, I agree that yeah, aggressive dogs are 100% the responsibility of the OWNER. Have an aggressive dog? Short leash! Especially around kids and other dogs. NOT ROCKET SCIENCE. And yeah, educate kids to always ask before approaching strange dogs. Yellow ribbons won't be a good indicator, because it will never be widespread enough to be reliable.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 10:40 AM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh that's such a cute little yellow ribbon on your dog I just want to pet him on his cute little head I'll just come closer to him and AAAAAHHHHH!!!!!!!!!
posted by andoatnp at 10:40 AM on October 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


Actually, this has not been my experience. Even children always ask me first if they can pet my dog.

And it has been mine. Sooooo.... subract the 'many' and substitute 'some' in the anecdote and it still equals unnecessary potential confrontations.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 10:40 AM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wow, this is a great idea. Yay for dogs!
posted by Windopaene at 10:40 AM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


"I just wanted to come over here and tell you how cute that yellow ribbon is!"
posted by odinsdream at 10:40 AM on October 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


And seriously, people will randomly walk up to dogs and rapidly try to engage with them. I swear to god this is not uncommon.

My dogs are poorly socialized (to be generous). When I take them out I try to keep them far from everyone, but invariably someone with dogs will march right up to my (leashed) dogs, or sit and watch while their unleashed dog runs up while I’m yelling "Nooooooooo!"

Great idea.
posted by bongo_x at 10:41 AM on October 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


Hunh, and all this time I thought the dog that ate my face just really supported the troops and/or the Iranian hostages.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:41 AM on October 1, 2012 [17 favorites]


What MrVisible said. People don't often pet my leashed, oaccsionally dog-aggressive Cattle Dog without asking, but they do let their dogs run up to mine and get in his face without first checking to see if maybe the reason I'm holding the leash so tightly is because my dog wants to eat theirs. If mine had a yellow ribbon, other owners might not encourage their dogs to sniff mine.
posted by pineappleheart at 10:42 AM on October 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


I am in full support of this idea, which may have originated with the very informative DINOS blog. The person behind DINOs also write on the Notes from a Dog Walker blog.

Dogs who need space are not limited to aggressive dogs. DINOS has this good list:

DINOS are good dogs that need some space while they’re out on walks.

They might be DINOS for a variety of reasons, such as:

•service and working dogs
•illness or recovering from surgery
•leash reactivity
•injuries and painful physical conditions, like arthritis
•intolerance of other animals
•fearful of unfamiliar people
•aging and elderly
•learning self control around other dogs
•fearful of unfamiliar or rowdy dogs
•are owned by people who want to be left alone


Team DINOS is also on Facebook. I want the I <3 Boundaries teeshirt from the store, myself.

For anyone with an interest in dog behavior and training, these are some really usefuil resources.
posted by vers at 10:42 AM on October 1, 2012 [11 favorites]


I would like to point out that the yellow ribbon may also be used for dogs who need space becaus they are timid, ill, in rehab, or being trained.

It's not just for aggressive dogs, though they're the ones getting all the fooferaw (wooferaw?).
posted by subbes at 10:44 AM on October 1, 2012 [8 favorites]


WHY WOULD YOU PUT SUCH A CUTE LITTLE YELLOW RIBBON ON SUCH A HORRIBLE MONSTER?
posted by andoatnp at 10:45 AM on October 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


For crips sake! the second definition for "parent" is "b : a person who brings up and cares for another". Do we really need to derail the concept by objecting to the use of a word?

And, yeah, I hope this gains some traction... My Husky is NOT a aggressive dog, but does not do well with other dogs while on leash (it restricts triggers a fight/flight response and she seems to know she can't run. Off leash she is just fine).
posted by HuronBob at 10:48 AM on October 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


To me, this just looks like a decoration. Good idea, needs a better signifies.
posted by boo_radley at 10:50 AM on October 1, 2012


Hunh, and all this time I thought the dog that ate my face just really supported the troops and/or the Iranian hostages.

Yeah, I actually think the yellow ribbon itself is kind of terrible since it already has so many other meanings and is not generally known as a warning, but I didn’t want to criticize too much because they already have the momentum. Oh, and they’re doing something that’s a great idea and I’m sitting on my ass.
posted by bongo_x at 10:50 AM on October 1, 2012 [5 favorites]


Since I got a dog 11 months ago (today!) I have decided that we need a new word for "friendly". My dog is timid around other dogs until she has a chance to warm up to them. I can't count the number of times a big aggressive dog has run up to both of us and frightened her while the owner shouts out "Don't worry! He's Friendly!". Dog people have a different meaning for friendly. Somehow it also includes the border collie that stalked us in the woods and scared the crap out of me. And the german shephard that cornered me against a tree and made me start walking on trails with a big stick.

It'd be great if a yellow ribbon would back people and dogs off but I doubt it. Cause after all their dog is friendly!
posted by kanata at 10:52 AM on October 1, 2012 [6 favorites]


Parents of dogs in need of space

Some dogs really are mean sons of bitches.
posted by orange swan at 10:52 AM on October 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Even children always ask me first if they can pet my dog.

Clouseau: I thought you said your dog did not bite!
Hotel Clerk: That is not my dog.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 10:52 AM on October 1, 2012 [17 favorites]


I've seen something similar at horse shows. A red ribbon on the tail of the horse is a warning to other riders to stay off the horses ass in the ring, because it will kick. Even though my daughter's horse doesn't kick, my daughter used to use the ribbon to keep other riders away from her in the ring.
posted by COD at 10:54 AM on October 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


I would love it if this caught on. My dog (something of a rescue) is fear-aggressive (except with our cats, one of which abuses this exception.) She's already bitten one dog whose owner was weirdly insistant on our dogs 'making friends' despite my reeling in of Bitey McBitey.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:54 AM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's time we all speak out! Are you for dogs, or against them?

Except does it place increased liability on a dog owner if they bite someone and they're not wearing their yellow ribbon?
posted by Goofyy at 10:54 AM on October 1, 2012


Not a fan of a project that attempts to shift responsibility for aggressive dogs away from the owner and onto the potential victim.

By that logic, any "CAUTION" sign is shifting responsibility from the owner of the property/animal/etc. to someone who could get hurt. Putting up such a sign is responsible behavior.

In other words, this is an owner taking responsibility: flagging a potentially dangerous situation. This does not necessarily mean that further action is not required on the part of the owner (offering verbal warning, restraining the dog, etc.).
posted by MrGuilt at 10:56 AM on October 1, 2012 [14 favorites]


I have a dog that this would be helpful with too. He's older, he was always picky about other dogs, and he's protective of his babies (my sons). I always have him leashed and in my control, but I can not control other people and their dogs. I routinely have people ignoring the fact that as soon as I see a dog, I reign him in, even move off the sidewalk to give others room, but still people let their dogs come running up, saying "Oh he's friendly", never minding that mine may not be. My dog doesn't need to be muzzled, he is well behaved and does not attack others (or kids), but if another dog comes up and gets into his space, he is not friendly unless he already knows and approves of the dog. I shouldn't have to muzzle him becomes other dog owners are bad, why do I have to be responsible for other dogs but they don't need to show me the same courtesy?

I support the yellow ribbon concept, I just need to find one, and I guess, start educating the neighbors!
posted by katers890 at 10:57 AM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


By that logic, any "CAUTION" sign is shifting responsibility from the owner of the property/animal/etc. to someone who could get hurt. Putting up such a sign is responsible behavior.

True, but at this point you can't rely on the observer to know what a yellow ribbon means. If I'd run into somebody with one this morning I'd have figured it was just decoration.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:58 AM on October 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


As has been stated upthread, not every dog in need of space is a quivering, snarling, white-hot ball of canine terror. I would like to put one on my standard poodle pup because I like to make sure he's calm before people pet him. He is big and friendly and goofy and can knock you over accidentally unless I get him to sit before you bring yourself, child or dog over.

But you might not know that to see me walk him down the street; he's pretty well behaved for a young dog EXCEPT SQUIRREL !!!

Anyway, he's not an aggressive dog, but when I'm teaching him something new or taking him on a learning-not-to-chase-squirrel-and-bunny walk, it'd be great to have a way to signal that he's (temporarily) off limits.
posted by Mister_A at 10:58 AM on October 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


We have a shelter dog who is very sweet to people, I've never feared leaving her alone with our now 4 year old granddaughter. The dog can be, however, aggressive towards other dogs. We ALWAYS demonstrate to her that dog aggressive behavior will not be tolerated. As she gets older, mellows, and learns, it's becoming less and less of a problem for her but we're always very careful to literally keep her on a short leash when other dogs are near. The job of socializing her to other dogs would be easier if people with other dogs would recognize that "Oh hey, there's a dog I shouldn't rush up to with my dog, I'll let them have a little extra room."
posted by Daddy-O at 10:58 AM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


For good background on dog-dog interaction, Suzanne Clothier's article He Just Wants To Say "Hi!" is an essential read.
posted by vers at 11:00 AM on October 1, 2012 [9 favorites]


By that logic, any "CAUTION" sign is shifting responsibility from the owner of the property/animal/etc. to someone who could get hurt.

There's a slight difference between something with a danger element that has to be present (say, power lines, wet floors, etc) vs a something a danger element that is completely optional (aggressive dogs). Not to mention the fact that caution signs are usually put up in places where the public is likely to come across them without someone "in the know" to warn them away. These dogs are accompanied by owners.
posted by DU at 11:00 AM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


...and from that day on, I never again felt safe going near the ol' oak tree.
posted by sarastro at 11:01 AM on October 1, 2012 [8 favorites]


I worry that people outside of the internet dog community won't know about the ribbon, but some dog owners may not understand that and will ease up on other proptective measures such as short leashes and verbal warnings.
posted by Area Man at 11:03 AM on October 1, 2012


Not a fan of a project that attempts to shift responsibility for aggressive dogs away from the owner and onto the potential victim.

Could be worse, everyone could be required to wear a colour corresponding to their level of deliciousness.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:07 AM on October 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


Listen. It's nonsense to suggest that dog owners are going to put a yellow ribbon on their dog's leash and then just abdicate any further responsibility for their dog's behavior. That DOES NOT and WILL NOT happen, OK? Irresponsible owners are not going to put the damn things on their dogs in the first place!

Christ you people can be thick.
posted by Mister_A at 11:11 AM on October 1, 2012 [29 favorites]


The thing I run into more often than not is a freaking crazy dog that bounds right the hell up to me, or worse, my toddler, and the owner is all like "oh, he's a really great dog and really loves people". The hell with that, lady, your dog knocked over my kid and is now humping my leg. What your dog is to you, is not what your dog is to everyone.
posted by billcicletta at 11:14 AM on October 1, 2012 [10 favorites]


What about yellow band around the dog's ankle that says "Bitestrong"?
posted by Kabanos at 11:14 AM on October 1, 2012 [11 favorites]


As the proud owner of a rescue pit-mix I'm looking for some sort of yellow ribbons now. Of course, the studded leather collar and growl tend to do a pretty good job of keeping strangers away though. He's actually pretty good with human strangers, but if any animal (other than my other dog) gets in his line of sight he's a pretty evil sounding bastard.

We actually had him pretty domesticated until he required what was essentially hip replacement surgery, followed up by some bone scraping and ACL/MCL surgery to get his kneecap back into place. So now that I'm sure he has some significant pain in his hips and rear legs on a regular basis his boundary for "personal space" has enlarged considerably.

Funny story, shortly after his surgery I took him out to the same dog park I'd taken him to for years, and most of the people there knew his story. But a new fluffy-dog attempted somewhat unsuccesfully to essentially hump him and he was going to have none of it. I already had him on a leash, and was in the process of pulling him back when the owner of said fluffy-dog started getting in my face, yelling and screaming at me for bringing such a dangerous animal

I looked at him, and quite calmly said "Would you like for me to concentrate on having a heartfelt conversation with you about who started what, or would you like for me to focus on pulling an 85 pound pit bull off your bichon frise?"

But yeah, most dogs turn out to be just like their owners. So if they have any yellow ribbons in something with industrial grade metal rivets I'm game.
posted by Blue_Villain at 11:15 AM on October 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


You aren't your dog's parent. The reason this is silly has nothing to do with your dog, who I am sure is adorable and a good little doggie, yes he IS. The difference between being a parent and owning a dog is about as wide of a gulf as the difference between owning a dog and owning a brick, unless you're doing one of those wrong. Especially the brick.

If your dog is aggressive the responsibility is on you, because that's a dangerous thing that you own. It doesn't need space, it needs to be trained somewhere else. If it can't be trained to not be dangerous to the people and animals around it, it needs to be kept far away from people, muzzled, or put down.
posted by 1adam12 at 11:16 AM on October 1, 2012 [16 favorites]


There's a slight difference between something with a danger element that has to be present (say, power lines, wet floors, etc) vs a something a danger element that is completely optional (aggressive dogs).

I guess aggressive dogs are "optional" in the sense that you could kill them, but other than that they're not really optional. Some dogs are aggressive, but they still need to be walked where they will be approached by uncautious people and other dogs. If you read the comments from aggressive dog owners this is a problem for at least some people who own aggressive dogs, despite their efforts to keep other people safe from their dogs. An additional warning that says "this dog needs some space, that's why I'm keeping him on a short leash, close to my body; please don't ignore my body language and run up to him anyway" is a good idea and doesn't shift blame anywhere. I have some doubts about whether it will be universal enough to be recognized, but if it could, it could be helpful.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:16 AM on October 1, 2012


Considering the number of wellmeaning, dog loving friends ive had to tell that is inappropriate to interact with service dogs, especially when those dogs have a big ol' sign saying " dont touch me im working", im for anything that might raise awareness that not all dogs are meant to be touched.

Unfortunately, people with unleashed dogs are another problem.
posted by sio42 at 11:16 AM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


What about dogs who want to be astrodogs?
posted by JHarris at 11:17 AM on October 1, 2012


This is an interesting but probably pointless exercise. The problem is that an advanced warning (that is, a visual sign before a verbal caution from owner/walker) won't make a difference to most people who would need this reminder. Such people would mostly be dog owners whose dogs are off-leash (as has been described upthread) and are therefore not nearby as their dog approaches a dog who doesn't welcome it. And I doubt it would make a difference with people who are just plain ignorant of how it goes with dogs. Add to all that the fact that this is not a recognized convention and I really wonder: How is a yellow ribbon going to make a bit of difference? Nice that they want to make a difference, but... Also, what DU said.
posted by Bartonius at 11:18 AM on October 1, 2012


Dogs, where America's narcissism is allowed to fully flower.
posted by ennui.bz at 11:19 AM on October 1, 2012 [14 favorites]


Hunh, and all this time I thought the dog that ate my face just really supported the troops and/or the Iranian hostages.

Dogs of war?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:20 AM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


ennui.bz, you don't get over to England or France much, then?
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:20 AM on October 1, 2012


dont touch me im working

Those signs have been really helpful in my marriage. Specifically, I saw one once that said "Don't pet me I'm working" and my wife and I made up a sign that has "Don't Pet Me I'm Working" written on one side and "I'm not working, you can pet me" written on the other side. That way, I can easily indicate when she's allowed to pet me without distracting me from my work.

Somehow that all reads sarcastic, but it's not. We literally have that sign.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:22 AM on October 1, 2012 [31 favorites]


All these societal cues are confusing. How am I supposed to know if a dog wearing a yellow handkerchief is dangerous, or if it's into watersports?
posted by CaseyB at 11:24 AM on October 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Christ you people can be thick.

Yes, but I'm trying to work on that. I've been cutting back on dessert (even though it is apple pie season) and started the couch to 5k program.
posted by Area Man at 11:27 AM on October 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


The difference between being a parent and owning a dog is about as wide of a gulf as the difference between owning a dog and owning a brick, unless you're doing one of those wrong.

Well, a brick would not require any of the food, exercise, or medical care that I provide my dogs - even if I felt love for that brick and let it spend the night in my bed.

That kind of caregiving for a dependent creature one has assumed responsibility for is routinely described as parenthood even when said creature is not one's biological offspring. An objection to that word's use in this context strikes me as species-ist.
posted by Egg Shen at 11:28 AM on October 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


If your dog is aggressive the responsibility is on you, because that's a dangerous thing that you own. It doesn't need space, it needs to be trained somewhere else.

If you got in my space like some people's dogs do, I'm going to put you down.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:28 AM on October 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


I know my (sweet & adorable, but cantankerous with strangers & strange dogs) dog is my responsibility. I keep him leashed 100% of the time. it sucks, but I have to avoid doggy cafes, dog-friendly events, dog parks, and busy regular parks (because there are always leash-free dogs, legal or not). whenever anybody asks if they can pet him, I tell them sorry no, pound issues, y'know.

however, people absolutely do approach and try to pet him without asking. it's happened a couple dozen times. worse, some people keep on trying to pet him, getting down on their knees because "that's what you're supposed to do!" despite my protests and his growls, because "dogs like me! I know what I'm doing!" dude, I've had this guy TEN YEARS. it's so presumptuous and not only does it endanger the person, but it endangers my dog's life -- because if he did bite (and he hasn't, but I wouldn't put it past him to chomp an aggressively friendly stranger), I might have to put him down, even if the person ignored my warnings.

sky would wear a yellow ribbon with pride. and he would look very handsome in it.
posted by changeling at 11:30 AM on October 1, 2012 [8 favorites]


The Shar Pei who kept me company for fourteen years was admittedly, a bad dog. She couldn't abide children, black people, and old white men, and more than anything, hated people who loudly and constantly announce, with a beatific smile, that they're dog people. On walks, we took the back alleys and the secret by-ways. Trying to socialize her with other dogs was like starting an amateur dogfighting club, though puppies and male dogs with a certain cut to their jib were okay in her book.

People didn't get it, though.

"Mister, is your dog nice? Can I pet your dog?"

I'd say "no" and "it would not be a good idea," but kids would keep on coming, despite the convoluted mask of destruction that only a Shar Pei can manage.

"Kid, I said she's not nice and you should not pet her!"

I found an abandoned industrial spur off the main railroad nearby, where the old industrial park backed up to the rusting twin trail of what used to be, and we walked there, covering miles of land frequented only by us and the occasional drunken fisherman cutting over to the creek.

"Thass a pit bull," they'd slur, and lurch forward. Rose did not approve. "Thass a byoootiful aminal," they'd slur, sloshing around in their fishing vests, and reach in. Rose was like a mousetrap, and you really couldn't keep her any closer than she was. Sometimes there was blood, but usually I stopped them short, even to the point of having to kick strangers away to keep them out of range.

"What am I going to do with you, devil dog?" I'd ask, as we continued down the line. Rose would just plod along happily, in love with the world and everything in it that wasn't a threat.

"Oh, what a beautiful dog!" self-avowed dog people would chirp, and they were right. My dog was beautiful, just velvety and brown and as pretty as a croissant from a wood fired oven manned by actual French people. I'd caution, and they'd tell me I was doing it all wrong. "You just have to let them get a smell! AAAaaughouch!"

"I did warn you. She despises enthusiasm above all things."

I feel bad that she had so many long and solitary years. When I was in my old line of work, she would come to work with me on the night shift and would curl up happily at my feet under the desk where I rolled through miles of microfilm, pausing here and there to inspect frames with a loupe. When things changed, she was left at home while I struggled to make ends meet.

At the vet, her file was marked, in big red letters, "SHAR PEI TEMPERAMENT," and she was always muzzled and always made it clear that if she could only get the muzzle off, everyone in that room would have to die.

When it was her time, the familiar vet techs, who'd struggled with her through shots and nail clippings and ear cleanings and the other horrors of animal medicine all cried too. She was a beautiful, terrible dog.

My new dogs are not terrible, though I have the joint blessing and curse of living in a five unit apartment building in which two of my neighbors are my exes, one is my sister's ex-husband, and one is just a peculiar DH Lawrence scholar, so neither Daisy nor Lou are deprived of company, but I cannot get everyone on board with how to walk a damn dog.

Lou is fine. Lou is a beagle, and is absurdly tiny, timid, and is a single dog symphony of sound and fury played entirely on aluminum piccolos. Daisy is a Carolina Dog, and I love that because she's beautiful and exotic and has an ancient and mysterious history of fighting the Ancient Ones in the murky Southeast, or at least I like to think so. She's not aggressive on the leash, or particulary badly behaved, except—

On my leash, she is very good. She's still mastering the art of not surging ahead, but when she does, I stop. If necessary, I snap the leash and stop. She will learn.

When my ex is walking her, though, she's like the red rubber ball on a paddle game, zinging around to the limits, than springing back. She is defensive, aggressive, and a little bit difficult. On my leash, the ex says "I don't know why she behaves for you," but he is compact, timid, and addresses Daisy and Lou both with a consistent high rising terminal.

"C'mon, Daisy, stay close?"

"Daisy, leave that guy alone?"

"Daisy, don't eat that?"

It's a struggle, because I really want her to be consistent, and I just can't get him to treat a dog like a dog, with structure and rewards given only for positive actions and hierarchy. Because my ex works from home, he's with Daisy more, and she gets attention and frequent walks, but I'm convinced I'm going to be sued one day because of some casual snarling snap on a sidewalk.

She starts to waver and I give her a sharp snap on the leash. Paul scowls at me.

"If you don't correct her, she'll never learn. If she never learns, she'll be stuck on her own."

I had a dog that seemed a little lonesome for fourteen years, and I want things to be different this time. When work settles down, I'll get back to taking Daisy to the dog park, where she's perfectly fine off her leash around dozens of dogs, children, black people, elderly white men, and even annoying self-annointed dog people.

She'll get too rowdy with the biggest dogs in the park, then get mad when they respond with increased rowdiness, but other than that, she's just fine. All play, running like mad with everyone behind her because the only dog that's almost as fast as she is, an Austrailian something-or-other, is not quite fast enough. Back on the leash, back in my hands, she's a perfect gentleman with a bit of a tomboyish spark in her eye, but give her to someone whose body language doesn't make it clear who's calling the shots and grrrr.
posted by sonascope at 11:30 AM on October 1, 2012 [41 favorites]


I used to think I was a good dog owner, until I married a dog trainer. It is mind boggling how little most people (I am not talking about you or your personal experience ) who own dogs know about dogs.

Our old arthritic dog would get physically hurt by nice playful off leash dogs trying to engage her. Too bad she died. I would totally use the yellow ribbon and carry printed cards with the DINOS explanation above to give to people.

I would not expect a better reaction than the time I was giving out flyers for a free dog citizenship training class. People got so offended I had to stop.
posted by Doroteo Arango II at 11:33 AM on October 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


I keep him leashed 100% of the time.

(...in public, I mean. he's not leashed right now. he is goofy-grinning at me under my desk because come on, it's sunny out, let's play already.)
posted by changeling at 11:35 AM on October 1, 2012


I was about to comment that this was becoming a bit uncomfortable and....and....and, sonascope to the rescue.

(I know who wrote that after the first sentence. I then copy and pasted it into the file for the book I'm going to publish based only on sonascope's posts here at the meta!)
posted by HuronBob at 11:35 AM on October 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


What I'll never understand is how you can see me cross the street half a block away from you with my dog, hear me quietly telling my dog, "Keep walking, keep walking, keep walking.", see me pull my dog up on a close leash and position myself between you and your dog and my dog, and you and your dog STILL cross the freaking street and come right towards me, saying "He just wants to be friends."

Maybe a yellow ribbon added to all of these signals will finally help.
posted by teleri025 at 11:36 AM on October 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


For crips sake! the second definition for "parent" is "b : a person who brings up and cares for another". Do we really need to derail the concept by objecting to the use of a word?

Yes. It's deeply repulsive to anyone who isn't aesthetically dead inside.
posted by atrazine at 11:39 AM on October 1, 2012 [8 favorites]


Yea, I think this is pretty much a wash and will only be done by people who likely to already be pretty good dog parents anyway.

I'd much rather see some education regarding dog etiquette with regard to dog parks/walking dogs. Examples like

-It's uncool to let your dog, even if you know Mr. Spiffy is the nicest canine in the world if not the universe, do the whole running, 'lunge to the end of the leash' thing towards another person while you're walking it. That scares people who aren't really, really dog confident and makes them that much more the enemy of dog-ownership in general.

- People that try to pickup their little poopsie-kins while in the 'leash off' area of the dog park because their dog is getting defensive or too much sniffs from other dogs. Unless your dog is actually in real, immediate physical danger of being bitten then you should let the dogs interact as they will. Trust me, it'll make your dog better at coping with asshole (literally) sniffers and it'll help other dogs not get overly worked up when you pick up, or even leash up, poopsie-kins.

- For dog parks that have an airlock style entrance (2 gates in series), that's where you leash and unleash your dog. Don't walk in with your dog on a leash and start a spiderweb of rope/cord when your dog is greeted, often eagerly, by the pack currently in the mix.

I could go on, but it's a shame to see park trail and dog park interactions ruined, all to often, by people that simply don't understand dog behavior and/or know how they should behave when around others.*

*I'm a dog owner with years and years of ownership and personal kennel/rescue management exposure, for what that's worth.

The Old Yeller Dog Project: give this dog some space; he has rabies.

Not cool. Not cool.

posted by RolandOfEld at 11:42 AM on October 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Maybe a yellow ribbon added to all of these signals will finally help.

Honestly, I don't think the ribbons will do much -- but I have greater hopes that the ribbon campaign and the DINOS movement will bring about better public awareness that some dogs, do in fact, need space. So when I am maneuvering my hounds to avoid an unwelcome dog and person, there's a chance that they will actually, finally GET IT and give us the space we need.
posted by vers at 11:43 AM on October 1, 2012


I am now completely freaked out by the number of people posting here who have dogs with aggression/interaction with people or other animals issues, even if you are leashing them. It seems right off the charts and has now led me to believe that at least 50% of the dogs I see being walked around here are about 10 seconds away from going postal.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 11:44 AM on October 1, 2012 [7 favorites]


If a dog owner, no matter how well-intentioned, thinks their dog 'needs space' in public, i would greatly appreciate it if they just left it at home. their bringing their animal into public is an imposition on everybody. it can behave or begone.
posted by dunkadunc at 11:45 AM on October 1, 2012 [6 favorites]


The legal liability implications of putting a yellow ribbon on your dog if it then bites someone are quite interesting, since it's prima facie evidence that you were aware the dog had proximity issues.
posted by unSane at 11:51 AM on October 1, 2012 [8 favorites]


It's deeply repulsive to anyone who isn't aesthetically dead inside.

I feel that way about "webinar". But then people don't, as best I can tell, love their webinars, share their lives with them, and feel grief when they die. So it's not as big a deal if I carry on about how repulsive I find it.
posted by Egg Shen at 11:53 AM on October 1, 2012


I feel like a muzzle would be more effective at communicating that a dog needs more space.
posted by rcdc at 11:54 AM on October 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Do owners are like parents in that they are too often blind to their dogs faults. Maybe we need ribbins to alert us to clueless dog "parents" who don't have sense enough to not take their dangerous animals out in public.

Darn near every owner of a dangerous beast says "It's OK, he's not agressive." Then when the dog lunges, they make an excuse. You startled him. you blinked, he doesn't like stripes or some other nonsense.

Dogs are OK with me, but dog owners, often not so much.
posted by cccorlew at 11:54 AM on October 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


Dog owners, not Do owners...
posted by cccorlew at 11:55 AM on October 1, 2012


It seems right off the charts and has now led me to believe that at least 50% of the dogs I see being walked around here are about 10 seconds away from going postal.

Mine isn't "10 seconds away from going postal." And does great with any people she meets, including small children. She just really doesn't like small dogs and has responded to other dogs her size in an unreliable fashion. Because I don't want to have to put my dog down because your dog got all up in her face and sniffed her butt after she growled at him, I try to make every effort to control the situations where she meets other dogs. This includes not meeting other dogs on-leash, where she's been way more agressive. I don't cross the street or try to avoid average pedestrians, because I know she's cool with that. But if you're on rollerskates or walking another dog, I will try to avoid you because she might react in a less than stellar manner. And for many dogs, all it takes is one bad reaction and serious life-ending repercussions occur.
posted by teleri025 at 11:57 AM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


If a dog owner, no matter how well-intentioned, thinks their dog 'needs space' in public, i would greatly appreciate it if they just left it at home. their bringing their animal into public is an imposition on everybody. it can behave or begone.

If a stranger approached you in public and touched your face without checking to see if it was okay with you, you might feel that you yourself 'needed space'.

If I suggested to you that perhaps a reasonable solution would be for you to confine yourself to your house, because your objection to this sort of interaction was "an imposition on everybody", what would you think of my suggestion?
posted by Sing Or Swim at 11:59 AM on October 1, 2012 [17 favorites]


It feels like the only way we are going to satisfy those that say a dog, when bothered, annoyed, put-upon, sniffed, barked at, jumped on by other dogs isn't going to respond like, well, a dog, is to just drag dead dogs around on the leash, eh?
posted by HuronBob at 11:59 AM on October 1, 2012


dunkadunc: If a dog owner, no matter how well-intentioned, thinks their dog 'needs space' in public, i would greatly appreciate it if they just left it at home. their bringing their animal into public is an imposition on everybody. it can behave or begone.

All you have to do is not let your dog off-leash in areas where you already are not supposed to, and not approach the owner and their dog against their wishes. Both of these are things you should have been doing already, so it should be no imposition.
posted by Mitrovarr at 11:59 AM on October 1, 2012 [14 favorites]


People let their dogs run up to mine when I'm skijoring, ie the dog is in harness pulling me on skis- fast, so I don't think a ribbon is going to help. People are just morons.
posted by fshgrl at 12:03 PM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


If a dog owner, no matter how well-intentioned, thinks their dog 'needs space' in public, i would greatly appreciate it if they just left it at home. their bringing their animal into public is an imposition on everybody. it can behave or begone.

Dogs need to go outside (which is pretty much what 'in public' means for these purposes, so I don't really see how you can keep them inside, short of putting them all down. It's also not any kind of an imposition to say "don't touch or get close to my dog." There are narrow sidewalks where this might be a problem, but in most public places you should be able to avoid dogs that need space without any trouble.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 12:04 PM on October 1, 2012


No wonder some dogs never overcome a lack of socialization.
posted by mannequito at 12:05 PM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


I feel like a muzzle would be more effective at communicating that a dog needs more space.

But it hurts Baby's self-esteem!
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:08 PM on October 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


By that logic, any "CAUTION" sign is shifting responsibility from the owner of the property/animal/etc. to someone who could get hurt.

Not any caution sign. Just the ones where the owner of the property/animal/etc is standing right there and has some ability to control the situation.

A yellow ribbon on a dog leash could be a great way of broadcasting an avoidance message, but it shouldn't absolve dog-owners from being ultimately responsible for controlling their dogs, and it shouldn't give them permission to deliberately place their dogs in situations where others are forced to accommodate them (e.g. you can't slap a yellow ribbon on the leash then walk your stranger-averse dog down a crowded public sidewalk)
posted by RonButNotStupid at 12:11 PM on October 1, 2012


What about yellow band around the dog's ankle that says "Bitestrong"?

The last thing we need is aggressive dogs taking performance enhancing drugs.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:16 PM on October 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Wouldn't it be clearer to go with a yellow-and-black hazard tape stripe? Even kids recognise the 'danger-- stings!' of bee-stripes. The plain yellow bow looks like some sort of 'ask me about the yellow ribbon!' cause.

There's precedent in the practice of tying a red ribbon to the tail of a horse that kicks, though that too is probably mainly understood by people who already know better than to get in the strike zone.
posted by Erasmouse at 12:20 PM on October 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


All these societal cues are confusing. How am I supposed to know if a dog wearing a yellow handkerchief is dangerous, or if it's into watersports?


All dogs are into watersports.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:25 PM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wouldn't it be clearer to go with a yellow-and-black hazard tape stripe?

That might be a bit better, but the yellow ribbon thing is already out there, and bee-stripe ribbons are harder to find.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:26 PM on October 1, 2012


If a dog owner, no matter how well-intentioned, thinks their dog 'needs space' in public, i would greatly appreciate it if they just left it at home. their bringing their animal into public is an imposition on everybody. it can behave or begone.

My current dog needed space when I first got her, only because she was a danger to herself. She was nervous around older kids to the point she would contort crazily to avoid walking past them. Especially if they were in groups. So if I saw some kids I would stand aside somewhere or just turn and go back the way I came. She was also scared of other dogs. Power tools. Things that made sudden noises. Seriously, I don't know what she went through but walking her was like some kind of logic puzzle.

But I kept walking her and eventually only packs of kids scared her, then only kids after dark etc. This was a gradual process over the course of a year. Now she is great with random people/kids/dogs/etc. when on walks. We can walk past construction sites. She no longer turns tail at the sound of a skateboard. This is how training works.
posted by mikepop at 12:33 PM on October 1, 2012 [5 favorites]


Unless we're in a strange or crowded area, my dog is always off-leash. She knows that dogs on leashes are generally to be avoided, unless the dog is sending out obvious friendly signals.
Generally, she ignores other people and other dogs.

Squirrels on the other hand...
posted by mrnutty at 12:33 PM on October 1, 2012


And yeah, educate kids to always ask before approaching strange dogs.

That's assuming parents know to do this THEMSELVES. And a lot of them don't.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:35 PM on October 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


By that logic, any "CAUTION" sign is shifting responsibility from the owner of the property/animal/etc. to someone who could get hurt. Putting up such a sign is responsible behavior.


The difference is that a "CAUTION" sign actually, explicitly explains what it means, whereas a yellow ribbon does not. Without context, a "CAUTION" sign is self-explanatory. Without context, a yellow ribbon means someone likes to play dress-up dolly with their dog.

I realize that this campaign is trying to provide that context, but let's face it, it's not going to happen quickly if at all. I mean, shit. Most of the men I meet don't even know handkerchief code, despite it having been around for decades.
posted by Sternmeyer at 12:38 PM on October 1, 2012


mrnutty: Unless we're in a strange or crowded area, my dog is always off-leash. She knows that dogs on leashes are generally to be avoided, unless the dog is sending out obvious friendly signals.

I don't really consider this acceptable either. The thing is, everyone else doesn't know your dog is safe. Back when I had a dog that was semi-aggressive to dogs (it was traumatized from a dog that broke off leash and attacked her while running), seeing an off-leash dog just meant you had to avoid that entire area until it went away. It is even worse for my mom, who has a phobia of other people's dogs from being attacked on a separate occasion while walking that dog - if she sees a loose dog in an area, she might never go back to it. So I am not really a fan of off-leash dogs in on-leash places, even if they're good dogs.

Plus, you know, one SQUIRREL! across the road and then it's hit by a car.
posted by Mitrovarr at 12:41 PM on October 1, 2012 [11 favorites]


BEWARE OF OAK TREE
posted by Sys Rq at 12:43 PM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


mrnutty: Unless we're in a strange or crowded area, my dog is always off-leash. She knows that dogs on leashes are generally to be avoided, unless the dog is sending out obvious friendly signals.

Mitrovarr: I don't really consider this acceptable either. The thing is, everyone else doesn't know your dog is safe.

RolandOfEld:-It's uncool to let your dog, even if you know Mr. Spiffy is the nicest canine in the world if not the universe, do the whole running, 'lunge to the end of the leash' thing

I agree with Mitrovarr because, as much as I'd like to say it's ok for a genuinely good dog to be off leash it's just not, because it's basically an infinely long, invisible leash that it's always running at the end of. The owner might know that invisible leash is there but others really, really don't and that's why I mentioned that etiquette rule I mentioned above. If you agree with it then you really can't justify your dog being off leash. One small to moderate exception would be if it was perfectly heeled the entire time y'all were in public but, if that's the situation, why not leash up and make others less nervous? Plus, squirrel + car and all that jazz.

I haven't seen this brought up but all this should all go without saying that if you have a ranch in Montana that's 20 miles from town then you are 100% fine with letting your dog roam off leash and that others should respect the dog's freedom if they drive up to sell you a vacuum cleaner or ask if you're registered to vote. If you're in your fenced in yard, ditto. However, the moment you head out into a public place like a sidewalk and/or park you must hold yourself and your dog to a different and higher standard.
posted by RolandOfEld at 12:50 PM on October 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


If you think you are a parent because you own a dog, you are wrong. You can debate this point, but you will continue to be wrong.
posted by Outlawyr at 1:00 PM on October 1, 2012 [10 favorites]


The thing I run into more often than not is a freaking crazy dog that bounds right the hell up to me, or worse, my toddler, and the owner is all like "oh, he's a really great dog and really loves people". The hell with that, lady, your dog knocked over my kid and is now humping my leg. What your dog is to you, is not what your dog is to everyone.

Switch the words "dog" and "toddler" and I’m backing it.
posted by bongo_x at 1:07 PM on October 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't really consider this acceptable either. The thing is, everyone else doesn't know your dog is safe.

No, but I'm not responsible for other people's irrational fears. Yes, people have gotten bitten by dogs; but a lot of people get mugged, too. Life is a risk.
I'd rather my dog know specific things are NOT allowed (crossing streets, approaching leashed dogs, etc), rather than nothing is allowed/accessible except for what you can do/reach on the leash.
And if she gets loose from the yard, I know she's not going to go on a tear. In fact, she has gotten loose several times and I usually find her hanging out at my front door. It's about freedom, man.

I'm fully aware that this only works for my dog. My dog is much calmer than most.
posted by mrnutty at 1:07 PM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


The legal liability implications of putting a yellow ribbon on your dog if it then bites someone are quite interesting, since it's prima facie evidence that you were aware the dog had proximity issues.

Definitely. Although I guess the question is: how much does it really change the situation? For anyone whose dog has bitten someone, nothing's changed - we've got clear scienter there as is. And for anyone who knows that their dog has issues, if there's been any objective evidence of that (which I'm wildly guessing will mainly come out of rescue-type situations) then nothing should change.

It's only for those people who know that there are issues but there's no 3rd-party confirmation of such that the liability itself might change.

All that is to ignore the economic component, by which I mean the lack of difficult proof required (discovery / admissions under oath) will make it easier or more likely to sue under a scienter-type situation; I don't know the state of dogbite-lawsuits enough to have an opinion.

Also I have no idea what the status of scienter laws are in general: how likely is a plaintiff to succeed without scienter?

For those people who quite reasonably don't know what scienter is: essentially that you can ignore negligence if the animal was known by the owner to be dangerous.
posted by Lemurrhea at 1:07 PM on October 1, 2012


People that try to pickup their little poopsie-kins while in the 'leash off' area of the dog park because their dog is getting defensive or too much sniffs from other dogs. Unless your dog is actually in real, immediate physical danger of being bitten then you should let the dogs interact as they will. Trust me, it'll make your dog better at coping with asshole (literally) sniffers and it'll help other dogs not get overly worked up when you pick up, or even leash up, poopsie-kins.

Yeah, no, I won't be following this one, because the last time my dog got spooked by an overly aggressive dog at the dog park, she ended up running in such a panic that she ended up running into fences. She nearly dislocated her shoulder, had multiple contusions, lacerations, and ran so hard that the pads on all of her paws feet abraded off. It doesn't help that she can run 25 mph and I can physically not catch her when she's panicked.
posted by nulledge at 1:13 PM on October 1, 2012


If you think you are a parent because you own a dog, you are wrong. You can debate this point, but you will continue to be wrong.

Who cares? Why are semantics so important? They certainly are not germane to the issue of whether yellow ribbons are for oak trees or dog leashes.
posted by caddis at 1:20 PM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


The best thing about this thread is that I realize my dog is not as bad as most of y'all's dogs.
posted by Mister_A at 1:21 PM on October 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


I grew up with leashless dogs, all but one of which was perfectly well-behaved off leash, but I would not dream of having my dog off leash outside of a dog park, largely because, when I'm walking my dog and I see a dog off-leash, I have zero idea of how linear that dog is, and plenty of evidence to make me suspect that no matter how great someone thinks their dog is off-leash, there's a non-zero possibility that they're just a walleyed optimist.

With my lousy ol' Shar Pei, I got so sick of hearing distant owners calling out in a sing-song as their little darlings would dash my way, "oh, don't worry, Mr. Bitington is very friendly!" to let me know that aww, heck, everything would be ju-u-ust fine.

"Yeah, that's great and all, but Mr. Bitington is very close to being sucked into an industrial-grade blender and, as I don't want to get bitten all to hell in the gory process of a nearby amateur vivisection, would you please pick up your very friendly fucking dog and put him on a leash?"

People would snatch up their Mr. Bitingtons and stomp away in a huff.

If monocles were in fashion, a fair number would have popped out in my presence.

As it stands, I often had to lower my own opera glasses disdainfully whilst holding back the foaming maw of death. It wasn't that my dog wasn't a loving animal—it's that she loved only me (and sadly, later only my ex) and was not given to great paroxysms of fellow feeling.

It's just not generally a wise thing to believe people when they grin at you and explain how perfect their dog is. Put too much faith in a friendly encounter and you're not far removed from visiting a friend with a lovely chimpanzee who would never hurt a fly...and suddenly you've got no fingers or testicles and someone else's face has been stitched droopily in place over your bony Dr. Phibes skull. The thing is, if you follow the law and general rules of civilized behavior in densely populated and traffic-saturated areas, everyone's happy. Dogs really don't mind leashes, unless they've never been trained to walk on one.

As it happens, my very bad dog bit two non-drunk people in the fourteen years she spent with me of her sixteen year lifespan, one of whom was me, when she was senile and blind and prone to being awfully surprised when I scooped her up to carry her outside for toilet time with the sling-towel, and one of whom was my little niece, aka my early and involuntary test subject for Experiment #211: Excuse Me Mister, Does Your Dog Bite? As with genital herpes, being a fan of Everybody Loves Raymond, and having an unforgivable dress sense, a little careful management of our various setbacks goes a long way in making it possible to live within a shared world.
posted by sonascope at 1:22 PM on October 1, 2012 [7 favorites]


Also, no matter how well behaved you believe your dog to be off-leash, it isn't anywhere close enough to how well behaved they need to be. Any off-leash dog is a danger to itself and others
posted by nulledge at 1:22 PM on October 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


If your dog is aggressive the responsibility is on you, because that's a dangerous thing that you own. It doesn't need space, it needs to be trained somewhere else. If it can't be trained to not be dangerous to the people and animals around it, it needs to be kept far away from people, muzzled, or put down.

Listen, if strange people I don't know walk up to me on the street and start touching my face, I'm going to get aggressive really fast. Punching will be involved and I'm a big guy who knows how to throw a punch so it won't likely go well for the stranger. That doesn't mean I'm dangerous, that doesn't mean I should stay away from other people. It means you shouldn't try to grab my face until you have my permission.

The same is true for dogs (though they can't always make themselves understood). In my experience, I get asked for permission to approach my pup by about half the people we meet. If it were 100%, we wouldn't need these yellow ribbons or anything else.

Me not wanting to have my personal space violated when I'm in public doesn't seem to create an imposition on anyone else. I'm dangerous when strangers violate my personal space, why is that okay for me but my dog needs to stay home?

My dog, Bailey, loves meeting new people and new dogs but I'm trying to teach her some self control and to keep all four of her feet on the ground so it's great when people ask since I can use it as a training opportunity. Sit like a nice little girl and you get to meet the new person but not until then. Instead, half the people don't wait for me and just go ahead and greet her. It might be okay with them now for her to jump around all excited but I don't want to have to deal with her doing that when she is full grown (no more than 85 Lbs I hope).

I don't think this will end up being wide-spread enough to really help but it's a good idea.
posted by VTX at 1:26 PM on October 1, 2012 [5 favorites]


i've been burned enough believing people who said 'oh don't worry, she won't hurt anybody'.

dogs that cannot tolerate nearby humans should either stay home or be put down. it is not responsible to bring a menace into public space. did i ever mention the time i was chased down the street by a Great Dane?
posted by dunkadunc at 1:28 PM on October 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


Mrnutty, it's not irrational to not know and to worry about the intentions of a dog that's running around loose. It's actually a really good and self-defensive thing to be concerned about (say, in my neighborhood, where a lot of dogs owned by folks living on the street are well-behaved when near their owners but total snappish growling dangers when running loose around), especially because letting your dog off-leash in public spaces is often connected with other irresponsible pet ownership tendencies like not training dogs not to bite random strangers. Life is a risk, but the idea of society and sharing public space is that you mitigate that risk even if you have different preferences about how to raise your pet.

As someone said above, I would have no way of knowing that your dog is calmer than most, or well-trained; all I see is a loose and unknown animal in a city or a non-dog city park (again, just taking the Haight in SF as my example) and that doesn't signal "this is totally safe and fine and if it's not it's your problem" to me. I should say that I love dogs, live with a dog, and know that most dogs are lovely and totally cool. But I don't assume that because some dogs aren't, and it's safer for me to be cautious.
posted by c'mon sea legs at 1:30 PM on October 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


i've been burned enough believing people who said 'oh don't worry, she won't hurt anybody'.

And what's that got to do with the topic of this post, which is people explicitly saying "Stay away, she will hurt you"?
posted by Jimbob at 1:35 PM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


And what's that got to do with the topic of this post, which is people explicitly saying "Stay away, she will hurt you"?

Presumably, that a large portion of the people who should put ribbons on their dog won't, because Happy Mr. Biteyface is a nice dog who won't hurt anybody and how dare you think otherwise.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:39 PM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Inspector Closeau could have used a yellow ribbon.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 1:46 PM on October 1, 2012


TheWhiteSkull: All dogs are into watersports

A Don Bluth film!
posted by dr_dank at 1:46 PM on October 1, 2012


Could help, if only because it could slightly boost awareness that some dogs need space, and it probably can't hurt. (It doesn't seem likely that a responsible dog owner would put a yellow ribbon on their dog's leash, and then somehow decided to use that as a rationale/excuse for slacking off on controlling their dog when in public. )
posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 1:51 PM on October 1, 2012


[Please stop the dog/parent derail in process?]
posted by jessamyn at 1:56 PM on October 1, 2012


A better solution might be a strict liability standard. If your dog bites someone, you are liable, regardless of past behavior or incidents. You want to own a dog, you take the risk, not all the people around you.
posted by Outlawyr at 1:59 PM on October 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


My dog, while he loves people, can be aggressive to certain dogs. He was attacked out of nowhere, with no provocation, and injured by an off-leash ("completely harmless", the owner assured me) pit bull – my dog is also a pit bull – and I believe that the incident contributed to the aggression that's likely part of his genetic makeup, but we used to let him approach other dogs with no problems all the time before then. Anyway, we don't go to parks for obvious reasons, but on weekends about half the dogs we encounter in our urban neighborhood are illegally off-leash. I've resorted to yelling to owners to call their dogs, yelling that my dog is aggressive, and running with him in the opposite direction.

My dog is never, ever off leash and it's easy to control him if it comes to that, but I've met people who will refuse to call their dogs ("Why should I leash her?"), people with deaf dogs who cannot hear being called, and dogs who will plainly not obey their owners. Some dogs are just let out of the house with no owner in sight, free to poop wherever they want and endanger traffic however they please. We're talking about irresponsible dog owners here, I doubt a yellow ribbon would make any difference.

I also carry pocket pepper spray, just in case.
posted by halogen at 2:02 PM on October 1, 2012


A better solution might be a strict liability standard. If your dog bites someone, you are liable, regardless of past behavior or incidents.

That's actually how the law works. However this allows there to be some social cues to help everyone actually deal with the problem of animals that both need or desire to go outside and that may or may not be socialized enough to be around other people or animals. Some people who takes their dogs out expect them to be interacting with other dogs, some do not, it's useful to know which type of person/dog you are approaching.

I am sorry if you have had bad interactions with dogs in the past but no one is suggesting changing any of the applicable leash or liability laws to make people not responsible legally if their dog bites someone. This is just another visual cue that people can use for their dog or about other dogs to help make social interactions go more smoothly.

I like this idea but I may be biased because I like all the other artwork this woman does and I think she is very talented.
posted by jessamyn at 2:05 PM on October 1, 2012


the yellow ribbon itself is kind of terrible since it already has so many other meanings and is not generally known as a warning

Yellow flags as warnings have a respectable, though now dysfunctionally ambiguous, history.
posted by feral_goldfish at 2:06 PM on October 1, 2012


That's actually how the law works.
Perhaps where you live. I think strict liability is pretty rare. Where I live there is a "2-bite" rule.
posted by Outlawyr at 2:07 PM on October 1, 2012


Our dog, Wrigley, is overly friendly, and will play with any dog given half a chance. She even wanted to play with the coyote we spotted while walking one morning but it had no interest in her. I let other dog owners come to her if they want, I don't approach them if I'm not familiar with them and their dog.

My caution didn't prevent her from being attacked however. The dog that attacked her had slipped from its leash, but a yellow ribbon would perhaps been enough of a signal that I should have been hastier about putting some distance between her and the other dog. Rather than the leisurely walk we had been having.

She fortunately didn't suffer any visible physical damage, but she was quite timid around any new dog for quite a while and will still bark and put her hackles up if she sees the dog that attacked her walk past our home.
posted by borkencode at 2:15 PM on October 1, 2012


A better solution might be a strict liability standard. If your dog bites someone, you are liable, regardless of past behavior or incidents.

No, not really. Let's say I'm out walking my dog, she is hard on my heel with a slack leash, the perfect epitome of a dog on a leash. You run up to my dog, who has never shown the least bit of aggression, and before I can do anything, you're trying to rub your hands in her face. She doesn't like it, so she bites you. As I've said, I'll punch the person who did that to me and I know I have the option of running away, the dog doesn't.

Now I get sued and the dog gets put down. You get some money and I lose my dog because you (this hypothetical you) were an idiot.
posted by VTX at 2:19 PM on October 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


dogs that cannot tolerate nearby humans should either stay home or be put down. it is not responsible to bring a menace into public space. did i ever mention the time i was chased down the street by a Great Dane?

You really should, since it sounds hi-larious. I say that with some compassion, having been chased through a forest by a goshawk -- who had begun menacing me (swooping down and knocking its knuckled claws into my forehead) while I was proceeding along a PUBLIC FOOTPATH, goddammit.
posted by feral_goldfish at 2:41 PM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


If goshawks want to start tying yellow ribbons around their nesting trees, on public footpaths or elsewhere, I for one promise to respect their space.
posted by feral_goldfish at 2:44 PM on October 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


I was having a casual gathering one afternoon when a friend invited some people over that I had never met before. I got on the phone to give the new person directions and she mentioned that she had her pitbull with her. I said "great! please put your dog on a leash because my dog is dog aggressive." No, no, no she said, her pit was friendly! I told her that she wasn't listening and that it was my husky mix that needed to be properly introduced to a new dog so she said she would leash her dog. Cool.Well, the van pulls up, the door opens and here comes this unleashed dog making a beeline for my leashed dog. Mr. Pitbull was shortly back in the van and headed for the vet. It was not pretty.
She thought she was going to prove to me how friendly her dog was! Guess what? Mine was not.
posted by futz at 2:54 PM on October 1, 2012 [8 favorites]


She doesn't like it, so she bites you. As I've said, I'll punch the person who did that to me and I know I have the option of running away, the dog doesn't.

would it be okay to punch someone in the face when someone extends (gets in your personal space) their hands to shake yours? Maybe they should verbally ask you next time first and keep a 5 ft distance until they have got your go ahead ....
posted by asra at 2:58 PM on October 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


I would like to point out that people who keep talking about 'aggressive' dogs might be missing the point.

Most dogs will not bite or anything unless they are scared/cornered/etc. They are not snarling barking monsters that their owners blithely take onto the street. They might have nervous issues from abuse, phobias, etc. etc. There is a very big difference between an aggressive and a defensive dog.

Don't crowd a skittish or nervous dog. Again, you'd think this would be simple, but apparently it is not. Honestly, in a lot of ways, this attempt is more for the benefit of the DOG and the people/dogs around it only by proxy.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 3:01 PM on October 1, 2012 [6 favorites]


would it be okay to punch someone in the face when someone extends (gets in your personal space) their hands to shake yours? Maybe they should verbally ask you next time first and keep a 5 ft distance until they have got your go ahead ....

This is a totally pertinent question, since VTX is actually a dog.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 3:08 PM on October 1, 2012


It's the internet, I didn't know!
posted by jessamyn at 3:10 PM on October 1, 2012 [6 favorites]


Would it be okay to punch someone in the face when someone extends (gets in your personal space) their hands to shake yours? Maybe they should verbally ask you next time first and keep a 5 ft distance until they have got your go ahead ....

Thing is, that's a pretty clear "I'm friendly" signal among us humans. I know what that means and you'll recognize and cues from me that warn you that it might not be a good idea. I can say, "Hey buddy, back the fuck off unless you want to get punched." Besides that, if someone I don't know comes at me for a hand shake, you can bet I'm going to be on my guard, it's weird.

Not everyone speaks dog so they should just back off until someone tells them otherwise.

On a side note, when I sold cars for a living we tried to pull our hands out to get ready for a hand shake ten or steps away from the customer so everyone had plenty of time to figure out what was happening. If you walked right up to them and then whipped up your hand for a shake (the "quick draw" as we called it) it tended to make people nervous.
posted by VTX at 3:12 PM on October 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's a bit confounding how much of this discussion has focused on human-aggressive dogs, which I suspect are a small subset of dogs in need of space. The list I linked to at DINOS -- well, let's link that again for a better understanding.

I wasn't going to talk about my own dogs here, but given some of the misunderstandings here, let's.

My dogs are basically the introverts of the dog world, happiest with those they know. So, the hounds have their regular dog friends, and we do a pack walk a few times a week as well. Meeting people, any person at all, is their most favorite thing in the world, and they never fail to greet calmly, sweetly and politely. I've lost count of the times I've been told by people on the street that my hounds are amazingly well-behaved and trained. And they are. They are also DINOS, each for their own reason.

See unfortunately, we've been attacked twice by an off-leash pit mix. Perhaps some of you will understand how that can change a dog's view of other dogs, particularly strange dogs. Complicating things further, my female hound (the most gentle dog I've ever known) is nearly blind and it has made her more timid. It is easy to see that for her, meeting strange dogs, especially rude, pushy or rambunctious dogs, majorly stresses her out. I feel strongly that it's unnecessary to put her in that situation over and over, so we happily get out of the way of dogs we don't know. And it's not that she'd be aggressive -- she doesn't fight back even when attacked, sadly. People with the other dogs may think my dogs are problematic because of our avoidance, but I'm okay with that if it helps them keep their distance.

So, if I see you walking your dog and we haven't met, please respect my need to control who my dogs meet. It is important for their health and psychological well-being.

On preview, thank you for your comment, six-or-six-thirty.

And PLEASE for the love of all that is holy, everyone leash your dog.
posted by vers at 3:14 PM on October 1, 2012 [4 favorites]



This is a totally pertinent question, since VTX is actually a dog.


It's the internet, I didn't know!


Not everyone speaks dog so they should just back off until someone tells them otherwise.

True, I was just confused at the earlier parallels between how humans interact with dogs and what would happen if they did the same thing with you..... I thought a more straight fwd human-human interaction example would help...

Do dogs speak dog? Lot of examples are going on about miscommunication in there as well....
posted by asra at 3:30 PM on October 1, 2012


Yes dogs speak dogs but even the smartest dog can be an idiot. If they're off leash and they see another dog on a leash, they don't see the leash so they don't get that there are different rules (unless they've been trained otherwise). They just think, "If that dog doesn't want anything to do with me, they'll run away." They speak a different language and lots of it with body language and scent but they are nowhere nearly the accomplished communicators that people are.
posted by VTX at 3:40 PM on October 1, 2012


I found Gracie in the parking lot of a Circle K; I almost hit her with my car. I got out, and (foolishly) coaxed her to me to see if she was okay. She was scrawny, and scarred, and beautiful. We fell in love with each other immediately.

I took her home, explaining to her that she couldn't stay, that I had a dog already, that I didn't need another dog. I introduced them, carefully, in my yard; they got along. That was the last time Gracie ever made friends with another dog.

At the vet the next day, I found out a few things. Gracie was about six months old. Judging by the thickness of the pads on her paws, she'd been on the street for weeks, if not months. Judging by the scars, she'd been used as a bait dog. If you don't know what a bait dog is, don't google it. Really. They're used in training other pit bulls to fight. The vet gave her vaccinations, and a clean bill of health.

I papered the area around where I found her with Found Dog notices. I went into every shop in the neighborhood with a picture. Nobody knew her. I called animal control; the guy there was honest with me, which I appreciated. He said they were putting down all the pit bulls they got in. The humane society wouldn't take her.

And all this time, I was falling deeper and deeper in love with this dog; she had golden fur, and huge brown eyes, and the goofiest smile you've ever seen. She got her name when, in one sequence, she fell off the back of the couch, the arm of the couch, the couch, and the coffee table. "Way to go, Grace."

So, seeing as she was incredibly lovable, and my other dog Bones was treating her like a little sister, and I couldn't find anyone who knew anything about her, and my only alternative was to throw her back on the street or have her put down, I kept her.

She died a couple of years ago, age eleven, from pancreatic cancer. She gave me eleven years of joy; she was known as the Pit Bull of Love (...she'll get ahold of your heart, and she won't let go).

So, that's how I came to be in possession of a dog who was afraid of, and aggressive towards, other dogs. I never, ever let her off her leash when we were outside. I fortified the hell out of her dog run in the backyard, because I didn't want to be responsible should she ever escape. I found a humane leash which went around her muzzle, pulling her head down if she pulled at the lead, acting as a muzzle.

Any encounter with another dog was terrifying to her. But she loved being outdoors so much, and she needed exercise so badly, it would have been unconscionable to keep her cooped up inside all the time. And because she was afraid, every single good, polite, well-trained dog off a leash anywhere near her would immediately rush over to her aggressively. I can't count the number of times I heard variations on "Oh, he's never done that before" or "He's always so well-behaved." Without a leash, you can't tell what your dog will do, no matter how well trained they are. And every encounter like that made the next encounter more terrifying for her.

When I ask everyone to keep their dogs on a leash, it's for the sake of your dogs, and of dogs like Gracie. Just follow the law and keep your dog on a leash. Please.
posted by MrVisible at 4:09 PM on October 1, 2012 [16 favorites]


Listen, if strange people I don't know walk up to me on the street and start touching my face, I'm going to get aggressive really fast. Punching will be involved and I'm a big guy who knows how to throw a punch so it won't likely go well for the stranger. That doesn't mean I'm dangerous, that doesn't mean I should stay away from other people. It means you shouldn't try to grab my face until you have my permission.

But - like it or not - the social expectations for behaviour around people and around dogs are very different. (We, for example, allow dogs to shit in the street and lick their balls in public; generally those are not things we allow humans to do.) I'm not saying it's a good or wise thing to pet a strange dog or that you shouldn't educate people not to do this, but it's something that people do and the law is clear that it's your responsibility as a dog owner to guard against this as best you can, not that of other people to steer clear of your dog. Besides, the people most attracted to doing stupid things with dogs are often under 5 - the very sort of humans we allow to do lots of things that we wouldn't accept from an adult. I'm not sure a yellow ribbon is going to fix that; it won't harm for sure, but I doubt it will make much difference.

And people who don't leash their dogs in built up areas are idiots. I don't care how well your dog normally behaves, it's one squirrel chase away from being flattened.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 4:12 PM on October 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Most dogs will not bite or anything unless they are scared/cornered/etc.

Maybe that's true of most well-trained dogs. Even then, dogs are highly territorial and protective of their owners, and that can be a huge problem.

If you've ever simply walked past a yard with a beagle in it, you know how completely insane dogs can get over nothing.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:26 PM on October 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


You run up to my dog, who has never shown the least bit of aggression, and before I can do anything, you're trying to rub your hands in her face.

This is kind of a weird hypothetical, as it seems unlikely someone would do this. I suppose it would be easy enough to include a "rubby face douchebag" exception into the strict liability bill I'm proposing.
posted by Outlawyr at 4:31 PM on October 1, 2012


But - like it or not - the social expectations for behavior around people and around dogs are very different.

If it's a social expectation that my dog allow anyone to put their hands on her face at anytime, then that expectation needs to change.

..the people most attracted to doing stupid things with dogs are often under 5...

Generally speaking, dogs will tolerate things from five-year-olds that they wouldn't tolerate from an adult (again, in general).

This is kind of a weird hypothetical, as it seems unlikely someone would do this.

This has happened to me at least once with a small child (who was seven or so) and once with an adult (my neighbor). I like to think that my neighbor would have stopped had she shied away. The seven-year-old came running full speed and didn't stop even after my pup shied and put me between her and the kid. Once she had a chance to get her bearings, it was all licks and pets but a different dog on a different day could have been a different story.

I don't think it's too much of a stretch to teach kids, "If you see a dog you don't know, stay out well beyond the reach of their leash until you get their owner's permission, especially if you see a yellow ribbon."
posted by VTX at 4:39 PM on October 1, 2012


Do dogs speak dog? Lot of examples are going on about miscommunication in there as well....

Dogs do speak dog, though some of them aren't eloquent and some are the equivalent of autistic if you'll forgive me. Most current breeders will send puppies home at 8 weeks, which might be an adequate amount of early socialization with the litter but frankly I suspect it's not, that 12 weeks would be better. For what it's worth, my dogs are greyhounds, and were with their mother and littermates for over a year. They have exquisite dog manners; issues only come up when other dogs do not follow the Rules of High Court that mine apparently do. It's revealing that one can have hundreds or thousands of greyhounds in one place like Greyhounds Reach the Beach, and there's very seldom a problem.

If you, as a human (I only presume -- this is the Internet!), I highly recommend Patricia McConnell's The Other End of the Leash. Astonishingly insightful to inter-species communication.
posted by vers at 4:40 PM on October 1, 2012


This is kind of a weird hypothetical, as it seems unlikely someone would do this. I suppose it would be easy enough to include a "rubby face douchebag" exception into the strict liability bill I'm proposing.

This happens all the time. My old roommate's dog is very much a dog in need of space. And to reiterate to all the people equating that with "agressive", she is pretty much the opposite of that. When she's out walking, she could really give a shit about anything other than her ball and her owner. She doesn't run over to sniff other dogs, she doesn't jump on strangers, she doesn't bark at squirrels. But she does freak out when strangers get within her comfort zone, which is generally about a 2 foot radius. As long as you ignore her, she'll ignore you, 100% of the time.

The problem is she's a cute dog, and people are idiots.

It's a pretty regular occasion while walking her, someone will spot her and go into "squee" mode and beeline for her. I'll pull her close on the leash, get her behind me, and tell the person that she's not friendly. Some people just don't listen. To make matters worse, they usually do the two things guaranteed to freak the dog out. Squealing or talking in that excited baby talk doggy voice that people get, and putting their hands in her face. And she always responds by barking and snapping at them, while simultaneously cowering, and trying to hide between my legs. I've literally turned and walked in the other direction and had people follow us trying to pet the dog.

The funny thing is my other roommate had a pitbull that was the sweetest friendliest dog ever. Despite being a shameless belly rub whore, people tended to be very cautious and give him a wide berth.
posted by billyfleetwood at 5:20 PM on October 1, 2012


I do teach my kids not to touch dogs without the owner's permission, but they are little. They have poor impulse control and forget things sometimes. If your dogs are so dangerous (and I don't care whether it comes from fear or aggression) why are you walking them anywhere near children? If your dog regularly snaps at people in response to baby talk, you have a real problem

This thread began with dog owners proclaiming that they were responsible and took precautions, but now has owners who seem proud of how dangerous their dogs are to other humans. If this yelow ribbon movement is just an excuse to blame anyone who is bitten, I'm not for it.
posted by Area Man at 5:41 PM on October 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


If your dog regularly snaps at people in response to baby talk, you have a real problem

Dogs react badly to high pitched squealing, you know, like a wounded animal? It often makes them want to eat the thing that makes the noise. It’s an instinct.

Just leave the freaking dogs alone. Why are there so many people arguing against that? If someone was saying "don’t walk up and grab my baby" I can’t believe there be this many people saying "I can’t stop myself, you should put it down or leave it at home".
posted by bongo_x at 5:56 PM on October 1, 2012 [6 favorites]


If it's a social expectation that my dog allow anyone to put their hands on her face at anytime, then that expectation needs to change.

Yeah, unless your dog is injured, that's a pretty basic expectation for a dog that is in public and is not muzzled. They're not people.
posted by the young rope-rider at 5:57 PM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


If it's a social expectation that my dog allow anyone to put their hands on her face at anytime, then that expectation needs to change.

Yeah, unless your dog is injured, that's a pretty basic expectation for a dog that is in public and is not muzzled.


ahhhh, no, it's not. Any more than someone can come and put their hands on my classic car, type on my laptop at the coffee shop, look through my cart of groceries, grab my fishing rod out of my boat at the dock and start fishing... and none of those are people.
posted by HuronBob at 6:10 PM on October 1, 2012 [8 favorites]


All you have to do is not let your dog off-leash in areas where you already are not supposed to, and not approach the owner and their dog against their wishes. Both of these are things you should have been doing already, so it should be no imposition.

Bears repeating.

My dog was rescued from a situation of almost total neglect and squalor and is sweet as pie and has never, ever, ever been aggressive. However, he is very shy and fearful around new people and dogs, as he was never socialized. I've taken him to dog training classes where I've been taught how to desensitize him to the world and it's been pretty successful. Of course, as with any dog training, it doesn't happen overnight - it takes some time. I take him for lots and lots of walks around my densely populated part of the city and give him lots of positive reinforcement when he sees other dogs or people and he's learned pretty fast that new things aren't going to hurt him.

There have been a few people who live in my neighborhood though, who insist that their pitbulls must be off leash at all times, despite leash laws. Their dogs are pretty good, for the most part, but they do run up to other dogs, including mine, and when they do, he FREAKS out. There is some kind of dynamic between a leashed and an unleashed dog that makes it a bad situation in the first place, but the couple times that this happened, it noticeably caused my dog to backtrack on all my careful work and training with him. He gets scared when dogs run up to him. Even though he's improved tremendously since I've gotten him, he's still not there yet.

And for those people who think I should just lock my dog in the house until my can handle the situation better? Almost all of my dog's success in handling situations is dependent on me being able to control his environment and keep him out of situations that would be hard for him. I will actively go out of my way to keep him away from you and your dog if I don't think he will react well, so as not to upset your walk/routine whatever. After all, he is my dog and it is my responsibility to teach him how to adapt to the world, not the other way around. By that, I mean when we go on our daily walks I keep an eye out for other people or dogs walking and make sure I give them a wide berth. I can actually do this with 100% success until I encounter a person who refuses to leash their dog. Then, 99 times out of 100, the dog will approach mine - friendly or not - my dog freaks out and starts snarling, and the situation just deteriorates. I wonder what I'm supposed to do if I do everything I can to make sure that my dog avoids bad situations by steering clear of people, places and things that might set him off when some people just let their dogs run wherever and I can literally do nothing to avoid them, short of never letting my dog out of the house? Seriously, is that your solution? Rather than follow leash laws, which are there for a NUMBER of reasons that have nothing to do with how other dogs react to unleashed dogs; people and animals who don't want strange dogs approaching them should.....just never leave the house?

This is not to say anything about the many people who don't like dogs, are afraid of dogs and don't want unleashed dogs coming up to them (regardless if they have a dog of their own or not). I love dogs, I mean I LOVE them, but I do think that people have more of a right to walk down the street without being accosted by a dog when they don't want to than dogs have a right to not be on a leash.

Everyone who has an unleashed dog insists that their dog is SO FRIENDLY. Until they're not. And all of all the unleashed dogs I've seen out and about in my neighborhood, I can think of only one that doesn't approach or try to approach people or dogs when they see them. Even if your unleashed dog is super friendly, other people (and by extension, leashed dogs) should have the right to walk the streets without the concern that unleashed dogs will come up to them. We have to share these streets. Please leash your dog.
posted by triggerfinger at 6:13 PM on October 1, 2012 [8 favorites]


It doesn't matter if a behavior has a basis in an instinct. Lots of potentially problematic behaviors do. It is the owner's responsibility to train and control the dog. If you can't or won't train or control your dog, cross the street when you see me and my kids coming. I wll tell them not to touch the dog, but they do have high-pitched voices and there is a slight chance that a kid will try to touch your dog.
posted by Area Man at 6:31 PM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't know. There seems to be more tolerance for dangerously aggressive dogs these days. When I was younger, there was less sentimentality about euthanizing dangerous animals. Part of this is an unhealthy tendency to anthropomorphize a companion animal - aggressive dogs are frequently "rescued" by charitable groups, or wind up in no-kill shelters to be "rehabilitated".

Mandatory leash laws are one result - don't kid yourself, it's got squat/all to do with the benefit of the dog being leashed (tho benefits there are), otherwise there'd be no-outside-cats laws as well. Another is that most of the dog parks now have "small dog" areas, because their owners have zero confidence their dog will be safe playing with "rescued" fighting-dogs or large breed attack animals the owners never bothered to train or socialize.

I know, because we used to have a lovely little beagle, and being city dwellers, we took her to the dog-park for some off-leash fun. And fun it was, until the "pits" and the "rotties" started showing up. Being new dog owners, we didn't know this was have-your-pet-hunted-for-sport time, and after the third time I had to scoop up our little beastie as three or more aggressive dogs cornered her and went in for the kill, I got the message. The public space my taxes pay for is off limits to me. You see, there are dogs in need of space, and their concerns override all.

It nearly came to blows the last time, as I needed to kick the dog biting my pant-leg to get away, and the owner took offense, and I was in zero mood to de-escalate anything. Now, there's a small-dog play area, a tiny little rump space a dog can circle entire without getting up to a full run.

I don't think owning an aggressive dog is a very good idea, at all, yellow ribbon or not, if you don't have the space, time or resources to exercise it away from unfamiliar animals and people.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:46 PM on October 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


vers:And PLEASE for the love of all that is holy, everyone leash your dog.

triggerfinger: This is not to say anything about the many people who don't like dogs, are afraid of dogs and don't want unleashed dogs coming up to them (regardless if they have a dog of their own or not). I love dogs, I mean I LOVE them, but I do think that people have more of a right to walk down the street without being accosted by a dog when they don't want to than dogs have a right to not be on a leash.

Thank you both. I don't like being touched without permission, and that includes by dogs. I have allergies, yes, but that's not anyone else's business, really. Whether I'm afraid of your dog, don't like dogs, or have allergies, if I'm anywhere but the off-leash area of the park, it's on you to stop your dog from touching me, not on me to ask you to keep your dog away. Not that dog parents who won't leash can be trusted to respect a polite request, either.

I think the Yellow Ribbon people are my allies, essentially - they want their dogs left alone. I would totally wear a yellow ribbon or a red-lettered "SHAR PEI TEMPERAMENT" if it would get me a little distance.
posted by gingerest at 6:47 PM on October 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


You see, there are dogs in need of space, and their concerns override all.

Wait what? Did you RTFA? No one is advocating that and anyone who is is wrong. This isn't about off-leash dogs needing space. Pretty much everyone here thinks that if there is any chance a dog might hurt another dog, person, or themselves, that dog needs to be on a leash.

My dog won't go near you without my permission, that is why she is on the leash. With a lot of time and effort, she will hopefully not need the leash to stay by my side but she'll always wear it anyways. But, when she's on her leash and out in public, all I want is for you to not come near her without my (and her) permission. For me, it isn't because she's aggressive, it's because she's aggressively friendly and I'm trying to teach her some manners so she'll get to go more places and meet more people. Every time someone runs up and pets her without my say so and so I can explain the rules (she isn't allowed to get petted until she sits nicely and doesn't try to lick/mouth you) it sets her training back.

Dogs in public spaces should on-leash and given space just like everyone else. If a dog is in a off-leash dog park and their dog might be a problem, it's on them to remove their dog from the area. Anyone who thinks otherwise is mistaken.
posted by VTX at 7:14 PM on October 1, 2012


ahhhh, no, it's not. Any more than someone can come and put their hands on my classic car, type on my laptop at the coffee shop, look through my cart of groceries, grab my fishing rod out of my boat at the dock and start fishing... and none of those are people.

The appropriate response to those admittedly rude intrusions is not a serious (and potentially disfiguring) physical injury. Unless you're saying that you think it's reasonable to respond to rudeness by biting someone...
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:33 PM on October 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm going to tweet the Chicago PD with the idea of painting bullets yellow to indicate that these bullets need space.
posted by srboisvert at 7:43 PM on October 1, 2012


feral_goldfish: "You really should, since it sounds hi-larious. I say that with some compassion, having been chased through a forest by a goshawk -- who had begun menacing me (swooping down and knocking its knuckled claws into my forehead) while I was proceeding along a PUBLIC FOOTPATH, goddammit."

It was ca. midnight in Bar Harbor, Maine and I was longboarding up an incline on Main Street. I passed the end of the park where these hipster girls were sitting on a bench by the road. Their Great Dane, unleashed, bolted for me growling and I found myself desperately pushing up the hill as the thing closed in behind me. The girls shouted, I shit you not, "Don't worry, she won't hurt you!".

YEAH RIGHT YOUR DOG IS AS LARGE AS A SMALL BEAR, AND COULD TEAR MY HEAD OFF.

It was about five feet from me when I hit the peak of the hill, got the advantage of gravity, and got away. I don't know what I would have done if it had caught up with me- hit it with my longboard? It's not one of those things you want to have to try, and not something you want to have to explain to a judge.
posted by dunkadunc at 7:55 PM on October 1, 2012


As has been amply demonstrated here, a lot of good people end up adopting problematic dogs. We're asking for some consideration, in these two forms:

1) When you're in public, leash your dog, no matter what your opinion of your dog's manners is.

2) Ask before you approach or pet someone else's leashed animal, and listen if you're warned off.

I truly don't understand what's so hard about this.
posted by MrVisible at 8:04 PM on October 1, 2012 [13 favorites]


Dogs in public spaces should on-leash and given space just like everyone else

A dog is not a person. If it is dangerously unpredictable, it is not a good dog to own if you cannot exercise it away from other people or animals.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:07 PM on October 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm a big fan of this idea and hope it gains some traction.

My girlfriend and I live near a large-ish park in DC that becomes more dog-centric by the day. Her (our?) dog is a beautiful full collie that makes friends everywhere she goes. (Seriously, like cars will slow down to compliment her.) She's always good with people, and usually good with other dogs. Like, she'll either just be fine with them, or in the case of some tiny dogs around the neighborhood that she's gotten to know, play around with them. She's also very good with the cats and rabbit in our home (we have a shitload of animals.)

What she's not okay with are pit bulls, but even then only if she's on the leash or inside the house. Basically, if she feels like she's in "protection mode," since that's what she's trained for. Off-leash in the dog-park with pit bulls she's great. Super friendly. It's just a weird quirk.

So my problem is two-fold. First, everyone approaches her, because no one ever thinks to be wary of collies and she doesn't give anyone reason to be, most of the time, but threre are a ton of (friendly) pit bulls in our neighborhood, and I'd love an easier way to signal that they should stay back unless we're in the dog park, and secondly, that other dogs aren't quite as chill as Diana is, but the neighborhood is so ALL ABOUT dog-owners meeting one another that I'd like to know for sure when I should just walk on the other side of the street and have that not be rude.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:19 PM on October 1, 2012


There's not a dog on the planet that isn't dangerously unpredictable under certain circumstances. Those circumstances usually involve people acting stupid around it.

This also goes for cars, tractors, gravity, swingsets, fireworks, carabiners, firearms, large molluscs, mud, sheep, and water.

Stupid actions can have consequences. Getting mad that people are letting you know that you're acting stupid doesn't actually help.
posted by MrVisible at 8:22 PM on October 1, 2012 [5 favorites]


The appropriate response to those admittedly rude intrusions is not a serious (and potentially disfiguring) physical injury. Unless you're saying that you think it's reasonable to respond to rudeness by biting someone...

No, of course not. Like a lot of folks are saying, there's a lot of education that needs to happen. On one side, dogs in public (unless in a designated no-leash area) should always be on a leash. And the owner needs to take reasonable action to not let their dog approach anyone. No.matter.what.the.disposition.of.the.dog!

On the other hand, people should NEVER approach a dog without asking first and getting permission from the owner, every.single.time.

I guess I have an expectation that people are smart enough to not put their hand in front of a 50 lb carnivore that they don't know... it just makes sense to default in the other direction.
posted by HuronBob at 8:32 PM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


And what consideration are owners of problematic dogs giving to my interest in keeping my family safe? Whose stupid actions have consequences? The dog owners' in keeping an aggressive or fearful dog?

You know about dogs and know how to behave with them. So do I. However, we live in a world with lots of people who don't know dogs. We also know that kids sometimes misbehave. There is a good chance that someone will try to touch your dog. If the likely result is a serious injury, the onus is on you to keep your dog away from people.
posted by Area Man at 8:55 PM on October 1, 2012


Maybe? The vast majority of dogs don't bite when you pet them, and there are also people who might not be sensible. It's the dog owner's responsibility to make sure that even dumbasses don't get bitten.

I have to say, having owned dogs before (and not the best dogs, either) I'm a little weirded out at the assumption that petting a strange dog is so bad that a bite is a reasonable and expected response. Obviously, if a dog is in pain, ill, senile, etc. they might bite, but for a dog to respond to a normal greeting from a human with a bite, before the owner can separate them? At that level of danger the dog should be muzzled, or it should stay home.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:56 PM on October 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Your kids have a lot better shot with an unpredictable dog than, for instance, a city bus. It's up to you to keep them from overly-close encounters with both.
posted by MrVisible at 9:01 PM on October 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


So you won't take responsibility for keeping your dog away from people when you know it is likely to bite if anyone touches it? Wow. The city bus drivers actually do try to avoid hitting kids with their buses. Even if the kids are stupid and run out into the street.
posted by Area Man at 9:10 PM on October 1, 2012


If by 'taking responsibility' you mean keeping my dog on a leash, and warning away anyone who comes into proximity? Crossing to the other side of the street to avoid such encounters? Yeah.

If you mean keeping my dog confined at all times, or killing it, then no.

You have a lot of faith in the ability of city buses to stop on a dime. Perhaps it would be best to re-examine that.
posted by MrVisible at 9:14 PM on October 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


Thanks for the concern. I suppose any argument about public safety can be countered by pointing out that there are always dangers in the world. It is a neat bit of rhetoric, but doesn't prove anything.

It really is your job to keep the dog from biting. Calling anyone who disagrees "stupid" doesn't change things.
posted by Area Man at 9:27 PM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you mean keeping my dog confined at all times, or killing it, then no.

The reasonable compromise is to use a muzzle when in public.
posted by jedicus at 9:40 PM on October 1, 2012 [5 favorites]


If a stranger approached you in public and touched [you] without checking to see if it was okay with you, you might feel that you yourself 'needed space'.

If I suggested to you that perhaps a reasonable solution would be for you to confine yourself to your house, because your objection to this sort of interaction was "an imposition on everybody", what would you think of my suggestion?



Women have to put up with this shit ALL THE FUCKING TIME.


Most recently for me:

I'm in line to buy a ticket at a movie theater and a man behind me grabs my shoulders as he says "excuse me" and moves past. The decibel level was at a normal conversation rating.

"Don't touch me!"

"I just needed to get by."

"All you had to do was say excuse me. You did NOT need to put your hands on me!"

He comes toward me smirking, hands outstretched.

"Touch me again and you will be missing an eyeball."

He backed off.


The Hollaback sites are full of similar stories.
posted by brujita at 10:33 PM on October 1, 2012 [10 favorites]


YEAH RIGHT YOUR DOG IS AS LARGE AS A SMALL BEAR, AND COULD TEAR MY HEAD OFF.

Your story makes me burn with shame. My dog didn't chase you, but she did chase another biker who was luckily fast enough to escape my snarling, aggressive Shepard mix after she slipped her harness.

I, too, yelled helplessly as she bolted away from me. She really wasn't going to hurt him, although she certainly seemed intent on it. The reality is that moving bicycles trigger a level of protectiveness in her like nothing else. She had reacted badly before, but this was the first time she had managed to death-roll out of her harness. She wasn't going to hurt the biker, but she certainly wanted to do bad things to his 10-speed.

On behalf of other bike-aggressive dog owners, I'm sorry.
/she wears a better harness and a pinch collar now.
posted by Vysharra at 1:43 AM on October 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


Again, it bears repeating this isn't intended solely for human-aggressive dogs. If I thought this would do a lick of good, I'd put yellow ribbons on my pooches, who are not human-aggressive. They're not even dog-aggressive, in fact they were very friendly well behaved dogs up until the point when taking them out for a walk, my neighbor who had his English Bulldog off leash in his front yard heard me open my front door, ran onto my porch and became very aggressive with my dogs. The smaller of my two dogs, Izzy, developed a fear of all large dogs, and my older dog, Max, developed a fear of unleashed dogs while leashed. When encountered with this the dogs would shriek and scream as if they were being butchered, tug on their leashes so hard to get away that they would bruise themselves, roll on their tummies and piss themselves, and panic to the point where they would mouth at my hands as a I tried to calm them.

I worked very hard to get Izzy to the point where I could take her to the small dog section of the dog park. Unfortunately most of that work was undone when on a visit to the dog park the small dog section was closed, and we tried to introduce her to the large dog area, that's when overly aggressive dogs caused her to bolt. Do you know how heartbreaking it is to watch your dog running into park benches, jumping headfirst into chain-link fences in an effort to evade the dogs chasing her? I had to watch it for 15 minutes because I'm not fast enough to catch her, and neither of the aggressive dogs stopped, not that their owners were very concerned with recalling them. She finally dropped exhausted close enough for me to grab her, and I still had to contend with the dogs chasing her.

It's been very hard to work past these incidents with her, because we've had repeats while walking. We have a neighbor across the street who allows their dog to go unleashed. We've encountered unleashed dogs on almost every occasion while taking our dogs on a walk. It's really fucking hard to try to undo this trauma if everywhere we go there's a trigger. So please, don't be an asshole, keep your dog leashed.
posted by nulledge at 4:56 AM on October 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


Their Great Dane, unleashed, bolted for me growling

I believe I've identified the problem.

Again, this is about PROPERLY LEASHED dogs.
posted by VTX at 5:48 AM on October 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


And the moral of the story is: cat people don't have these problems.

Anyway, you know the kind of person who doesn't like cats but who always is the one searched out for some nap time when visiting a friend with cats? I'm sort of like that for dogs; don't really like them as a species, but some of them seem fascinated by me, which is quite nice when the dog is a friend's and I know they're harmless and just want to be nice, not so much so when it's a strange dog out on the streets..
posted by MartinWisse at 6:10 AM on October 2, 2012


Cat people generally have enough problems of their own to be going on with.
posted by unSane at 6:44 AM on October 2, 2012


Yeah, unleashed dogs are a big problem. My dog is fairly leash aggressive with other dogs now after being attacked and bitten twice (maybe more, but twice while we've had her) and threatened many times by unleashed dogs. I usually have to scare the threatening ones away, which is not really a safe thing at all... especially when it's more than a single dog.

Now she both desperately wants to make contact with other dogs and starts snarling and snapping if they get close for more than three seconds. (Except for most large, adult, confident males, which she usually likes. Either she thinks they're safe because she's never been attacked by one, or she's a hopeless flirt.)

But little kids do kind of freak me out. My dog has never been aggressive at all with a human, but it scares me, because I don't know what a small child might do... they could do anything! So, I just try to avoid that as much as I can, but it's surprising how many parents encourage their tiny children to approach a strange dog! In our case, part of the problem is that my dog is ridiculously adorable looking, but her personality doesn't really match what people expect. She's much more reserved than goofy/friendly/adoring as people seem to believe, and doesn't actually care a fig about getting love and attention from strangers (treats, though... now we're talking); I've always said she's a cattish dog. At any rate, any given big, scary-looking dog can be a total mushy sweetheart, and any given cute li'l moptop dog can be big ol' biter, and a lot of non-dog people don't quite get that. (My cousins' totally adorable cocker spaniel went for my throat when I was a kid, and I hadn't even approached the dog at all; apparently it was because I was standing at the gate of their yard. It's amazing I ever became a dog person.)

Our girl has never been aggressive in even the smallest way with a person (she yelps like bloody murder, but has never snapped at a human for stepping on her or accidentally hurting her)... but a wee little being who might just poke her in the eye, or bonk her in the face out of the blue? How do I know she won't ever nip (or worse)? We don't have kids, there are no neighbor kids, especially small ones, and she's a rescue, so I simply can't 100% know that... and I end up going into all sorts of contortions to try to avoid the kidlets. Which is hard when their parents are trying to make it happen. Worse, I worry that she will become skittish around little kids because of my reaction, which is to hold the leash quite short and make her sit, while I place myself in between her and the child while trying to talk the parents out of making the kid pet the dog.

So, yellow ribbon? Sure I'd do it, even though I don't actually have very big issues that way with my dog. But nobody here would be aware of the idea, though it would be handy if people generally were, and it still wouldn't solve the big unleashed dog problem.
posted by taz at 7:02 AM on October 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Part of this is an unhealthy tendency to anthropomorphize a companion animal
Which gets back to my issue with people thinking they are a "parent" just because they own a dog. Why this topic is forbidden or considered a derail I don't know. It is completely relevant to the problem being discussed. People make excuses for their dog's behavior, or expect people to change their behavior in deference to the dog. This relates directly to their inability to see the difference between a dog and a human being. Why should I have to cross the street to avoid your dog jumping on me? Some people are really bad at handling their dogs, and I think this frequently is because they anthropomorphize the dog. I like dogs. I think they are great. But they are dogs. This should not be a controversial point.
posted by Outlawyr at 7:24 AM on October 2, 2012


Parent and dog parent are two different things. Us dog parents know this.
posted by VTX at 7:34 AM on October 2, 2012


This relates directly to their inability to see the difference between a dog and a human being. Why should I have to cross the street to avoid your dog jumping on me? Some people are really bad at handling their dogs, and I think this frequently is because they anthropomorphize the dog. I like dogs. I think they are great. But they are dogs. This should not be a controversial point.

The people in this thread that I see anthropomorphizing dogs are the people who keep insisting that we need to keep aggressive dogs out of public spaces because they aren't behaving like reasonable human beings (the comments that liken dogs biting strangers who touch them to people punching people who try to shake hands with them or start touching their things). Dogs are dogs, and part of that is understanding that you have to treat them appropriately (including not touching them if you don't know it's okay) or they might bite you. They're animals, it happens. People change their behavior in deference to the dogs because it's easier for an intelligent rational creature to change their behavior than it is for a dog. Further, if your behavior that needs changing is that you constantly touch other peoples dogs without asking your behavior is pretty inconsiderate and definitely stupid; it should be changed.

I like dogs, but can't own one right now, so I'm happy to pet dogs I meet on the street. I always ask, though, for the same reason that I ask before I borrow someone's stapler or look for something in their office, i.e. because I'm not an inconsiderate jackass.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:39 AM on October 2, 2012 [4 favorites]


I have to wonder if there is an urban/not urban bias, or if people are misunderstanding that this project isn't for vicious street dogs foaming at the mouth but Dogs with health issues; Dogs in training; Dogs in rehab; Dogs that are scared or reactive. I'm a life-long dog owner and city dweller and find there is more than enough blame to go around:

Other Dog Owners (1)
My late chow mix became unpredictably snappy as he got older, and I can tell you that it is heartbreaking. You try to be a responsible pet owner, and it sucks not being to let your dog run around on the public beach for a few minutes with his buddies because you are trying to do the right thing, while the other dog owners, who know your dog and his issues, are encouraging you to just "chill". But hey, maybe it's not the dog, maybe it's you, making the dog neurotic!

Other Dog Owners (2)
I am walking my dog on a short leash, and another dog -- leashed or unleashed -- comes bounding towards my dog. I stiffen, bring my dog to my side, and try to get the dog owner's attention only to hear, "It's okay, she's friendly!" "Well, my dog is kind of a dick sometimes so can you call your dog back please?" Seriously, all it takes is a split-second of eye contact with another dog owner to know the score.

Other Dog Owners (3)
You are taking your iphone for a walk.

Other Dog Owners (4)
You refuse to leash your dogs, (even after they have attacked other neighborhood dogs -- true story) and you are a bad, bad, human.

Children Owners (1)
You have not taught your child that, even if it looks like a big fluffy teddy bear, you do not approach strange dogs so now I have to try to get your attention while telling the child (sweetly and calmly) that my dog isn't feeling good and doesn't want to play today.

Children Owners (2)
If your kid thinks it's okay to run up to a strange dog and pull its tail or try to jump on it then I have a yellow ribbon and leash for you.

This is a genuinely heartbreaking situation for both the dogs and their owners, and I have never met someone in this situation who has a cavalier attitude about it. And to those posters who may think that putting a dog down is a simple solution, please know that most vets will not put down a dog with occasional problem behavior.

In my case, my dog probably developed a tumor or had some other neurological problem, but at his age there wasn't much we could do and as he became more aggressive we did eventually decide it was for the best. Please don't assume that every unpredictable dog is simply a few dog whispers away from transformation.

So please, don't be an asshole, keep your dog leashed.

Also, that 20-ft, retractable, razor-wire...thing your dog is attached to isn't suitable for populated urban areas, sorry.

If you think you are a parent because you own a dog, you are wrong. You can debate this point, but you will continue to be wrong.

My own mother used to refer to my dog as my son. I don't think she ever thought the dog was my actual son, nor her actual grandson. Even if there are people who truly think they are parents to animals, so what? It doesn't diminish (or have any actual effect on) your own role as a parent in any way, shape or form.

Women have to put up with this shit ALL THE FUCKING TIME.

I'm speechless. I am without speech.

I don't have a problem with the yellow ribbon idea, but in my experience a dog with a ribbon is a clean! soft! fluffy! dog that just came home from the groomer so it could get confusing.
posted by Room 641-A at 7:52 AM on October 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


The city bus drivers actually do try to avoid hitting kids with their buses. Even if the kids are stupid and run out into the street..

Your logic is flawed here in that you're assuming, nay asserting, that people aren't exercising normal care and caution with regards to their leashed, under control, within their reach animals. If a kid did run out into the street and get hit by said city bus and the driver couldn't avoid hitting the kid then you don't chalk it up to driver error because, ya'know, kids.

If I'm walking my dogs I let them visit with any child or person who is polite and calm enough to ask and approach us in a reasonable manner. That is not too much to ask. My dogs are great with anyone but they might be a bit hyper and scratch or knock over some little person who toddles up to them so I like to give them the sit and stay command before the little ones approach. It's better for everyone concerned and helps my dogs understand that interactions should be handled calmly and with restraint. However, and this hasn't happened but it's been a close thing once or twice, I'd feel no more responsible for an impolite/out-of-control kid's bruised bottom or scratched skin than I would if they snuck up behind me while I was checking my mail and I stepped on them while walking away from the mailbox.

People should respect each other and their space, parents should control their kids, and people should control their dogs (in no particular order). Like others above have said, this really seems like it should be a non-issue except for the fact that some people demand that their kids/dogs deserve free reign of the world at large because poopsiekins! or little Randy is sooooo special and imposing any restrictions on their behavior is just unthinkable..
posted by RolandOfEld at 7:55 AM on October 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


And for ridiculousness points, I'll tell my dog bite story. It's one of my earliest memories.

Roland, age 3 or 4 or 5, sitting in the floor playing with Tuffy, a large black lab that his family owns. Roland throws tennis ball, Tuffy returns ball. Lather, Rinse, Repeat. On the final iteration of said interaction, Tuffy does not drop said ball. Roland is unable to extricate ball from Tuffy's mouth. Roland assesses the situation and determines he wants the ball and that further action is required.

Roland bites Tuffy, hard. Very hard.

Tuffy attempts to retreat from this new and very painful experience but can't because the bite strength is strong with young Roland. Tuffy turns and bites Roland on the cheek.

Roland is lifted from the floor by his parental units and is questioned as to what has just taken place. Roland [and I'm very proud of this part] admits what has transpired and clarifies when it is implied that the dog bit him first that no, indeed not, the inverse is quite the case.

Roland gets a few stitches, Tuffy gets relegated to a chain in the backyard and is never trusted with Roland again.

So, there. Take away what you want from that, but the facts are true and names have not been changed to protect the innocent.
posted by RolandOfEld at 8:08 AM on October 2, 2012


Your logic is flawed here in that you're assuming, nay asserting, that people aren't exercising normal care and caution with regards to their leashed, under control, within their reach animals.

I used to think people were acting with normal care and caution. Our next door neighbor had a little terrier that she thought might bite the kids. She always kept it leashed when walking it, warned us and the kids, and stood farther away from us when we chatted after running into her and the dog on the sidewalk. That was fine. She was being responsible. I don't have a problem with people who take such precautions.

However, in this thread I was presented with the assertion that it is okay when a dog bites a person who touches it without permission because a person who was touched without permission would be justified in throwing a punch. I've also seen the suggestion that such bites, while regretable, are the fault of the person because people should know better. All of this suggest to me that some dog owners may not understand whose responsibility it is to keep a dog from biting.

Domestic dogs live in a human dominated society. Some of the humans are stupid (including the human kids) and others just don't know much about dogs or dog behavior. A good dog owner deals with and prepares for that reality because to do otherwise is to put the dog in danger of being killed. If there are dog owners telling themselves that it is okay for the dog to be a little bitey because they'd react violently if touched without permission and only stupid people get bitten, they are being unfair to their dogs and are likely not acting with reasonable care for the safety of others. I wouldn't have thought it needed to be said, but some comments in this thread suggest it does.

Finally, what's up with the idea that its okay for a dog to be "snappy" when presented with babytalk? You know who have high-pitched voices and babyish speech patterns? Toddlers.
posted by Area Man at 9:35 AM on October 2, 2012 [4 favorites]


And the moral of the story is: cat people don't have these problems.

I think everyone has met the inexplicably psychotic cat whose owner warns you to be careful of him.
posted by Artw at 9:38 AM on October 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yes, (though we generally just use the shorthand "cat") but they don't often go out for walkies.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:40 AM on October 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


He's an adorable little snuggle puss JUST DON'T TOUCH HIS TUMMY.
posted by Artw at 9:41 AM on October 2, 2012


Or his toes.
posted by jessamyn at 9:45 AM on October 2, 2012


Some of the humans are stupid (including the human kids) and others just don't know much about dogs or dog behavior. A good dog owner deals with and prepares for that reality because to do otherwise is to put the dog in danger of being killed.

Some of the owners are stupid (including their dogs) and others just don't know much about kids or kid behavior. A good parent deals with and prepares for that reality because to do otherwise is to put the kid in danger of being killed.

... I'm not trying to throw your words back at you, I just think it's 100% a two-way street with regards to other people's dogs needing to be respected and dog owners needing to be sure that their dogs are safe in the situations they put them in..

See my story above, I was out of line, I was bitten in fear and in self defense by a perfectly adapted dog, the dog got the punishment and blame. It's not equating human life to dog life to say that just isn't a logical course to take when viewing dog-human interactions.

A dog shouldn't bite/snap/growl without cause and a kid shouldn't do things to animals that might provoke them to defend themselves (like pull tails, pet hard, or sneak up behind them... all of which I've seen happen in the park and in our neighborhood). An adult passerby should just know better because, like something as simple as a hair dryer or a lawn mower, dogs can pose a threat to life and limb. Kids get a pass, dogs get a pass, dog owners and parents both shouldn't.

The squeally-high pitched voice thing is, I think for the most part, a red herring, because yes, kids and toddlers have higher pitched voices and that's a given, for what it's worth most dogs I've seen handle this pretty well.

It's the clueless, wrongheaded adults that take on the pitch of a wounded rabbit when interacting with a random canine that really cause problems. I tell friends and visitors not to use that tone when they tell Rover to leave them be, it's unclear and confusing at best and encouraging at worst. Of course snappy behavior isn't allowed but I can't blame the dog for acting odd/interested when people turn into human squirrel-cage sirens when they see them coming. I see this behavior and immediately adjust my thinking into "this person does not know how to interact with dogs" mode and adjust accordingly.

posted by RolandOfEld at 10:05 AM on October 2, 2012


I just think it's 100% a two-way street with regards to other people's dogs needing to be respected and dog owners needing to be sure that their dogs are safe in the situations they put them in.

I guess that's where I part ways with you. I agree both parents of human kids and dog owners need to take precautions and behave responsibly. I doubt we differ much in terms of practical advice for how owners and parents should train their pups and kids, but I think that the people who choose to own dogs have a particular responsibility to make sure those dogs don't harm people. The people who have decided to have dogs live in this society are those most charged with making sure that human-dog interactions are safe for everyone. Non-dog people aren't charged with learning about dogs and dog behavior. It isn't 100% a two-way street for me.

I do agree with you that this is about parents and dog owners, not blaming the dogs themselves or the little kids (I'm more willing to blame kids as they get older).

I get that you bit a dog and it bit you back, but I think that's different from a toddler who touches a dog.
posted by Area Man at 10:35 AM on October 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sure, maybe we'll have to agree to disagree on the meat of this back and forth, however regarding this:

I think that the people who choose to own dogs have a particular responsibility to make sure those dogs don't harm people.

I agree, but also and obviously people who choose to have kids have a particular responsibility to make sure those kids stay out of harms way.

I can't help but wonder what your thought process is regarding responsibility/blame since I've seen several people upthread state that they have personally experienced situations whereby they have literally turned and walked in the other direction and had people follow us trying to pet the dog*. Was the dog owner in that situation meeting your definition of "particular responsibility"? Was the other person, maybe a child/maybe not, who was insisting on the right to pet the animal in question blameless?

Because despite the fact that I can generally agree with the fact that "Non-dog people aren't charged with learning about dogs and dog behavior" there is the fact that we live in a society where people generally do learn to heed admonishments to stay away and/or don't touch something that isn't yours.
posted by RolandOfEld at 10:58 AM on October 2, 2012


It's really too bad the OP chose to highlight only one possible use (aggressive dog warning) when the project itself has a much broader mission:
What Is Yellow Dog?
The Yellow Dog Project was created to bring awareness to dogs who need space while training, recovering from surgery, or being rehabilitated.
I'd forgotten about the time my dog was in an accident and suffered pretty bad musculoskeletal injuries. For a few weeks he was only allowed out to pee and poop, was restricted to a small part of the room, and was not supposed to jump or play at all. When he was finally cleared to go out for walks it was with the condition he not play or run.

Of course all his dog and people friends were happy to see him but I practically had to use a bullhorn to ask people to keep a distance and let us approach them. If yellow ribbons had been an actual thing I would have absolutely used it.

On preview:
I think that the people who choose to own dogs have a particular responsibility to make sure those dogs don't harm people.

And just like sometimes humans may be startled by someone, turn quickly, and accidentally swat or hit the person, even a good-natured dog can be startled -- especially if it is losing its sight or hearing -- and react. Sometimes there is no fault, just shit happening, too.
posted by Room 641-A at 11:15 AM on October 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Non-dog people aren't charged with learning about dogs and dog behavior.

I'm just fine with that up until they want to jump in and interact with my dog without my say-so. Assuming my dog is on a leash, there is no reason for anyone to be within arms reach of my dog unless I give the okay. If you don't know anything about dogs, that's all the more reason for you to stay back. Now, I know that my dog isn't going to bite you but you don't know that so just give her a little bit of space.

It seems like this should be less about being able to identify dogs that need some space and more about creating awareness that people don't have some kind of right to pet any dog they see.
posted by VTX at 11:33 AM on October 2, 2012


I've seen several people upthread state that they have personally experienced situations whereby they have literally turned and walked in the other direction and had people follow us trying to pet the dog. Was the dog owner in that situation meeting your definition of "particular responsibility"? Was the other person, maybe a child/maybe not, who was insisting on the right to pet the animal in question blameless?

Yeah, that's crazy behavior to me. I agree that people who follow a dog and insist on petting it despite the owner's wishes and attempts to get away are more to blame if the dog then bites them. Those owners sound like they tried to do the right thing.

Sometimes there is no fault, just shit happening, too.

Agreed. No one can guarantee that a dog will never, ever bite.

When I was a kid, one of our mastiffs bit someone visiting our house. Up to that point, he'd been a very gentle and good-natured dog. He'd done lots of obedience training, was always walked with a leash, had a fenced yard, and had never been aggressive or particularly fearful with houseguests. We thought of him as a gentle giant and had no idea there was any particular danger. We found out later that some neighborhood kids had been throwing rocks at his head.

My comments mostly stem from my sense of being weirded out by the people who seemed oddly comfortable with the thought that there was a good chance their dog would bite someone if touched.
posted by Area Man at 11:35 AM on October 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


*fist bump*
posted by RolandOfEld at 11:46 AM on October 2, 2012


I am comfortable with the thought that there is a good chance my dogs would bite if someone touched them. Dogs have strong jaws, sharp teeth and only a few ways to express themselves. I also think that there are instances where a dog bite is an appropriate or unavoidable response.

A few examples:
- I was bitten by a family dog as a child. I was specifically doing the kinds of things that dumb kids do to provoke dogs. I thought it was fun, but after invading her space one too many times, she bit me right on the face. Even with puncture marks around my nose and flowing blood, I was the only party to be punished.

- My sister was bitten on the face as well. A different dog didn't want to be cornered and "played with" any longer so she was bit on the chin. She also experienced punctures and blood. She was banned from interacting with the dog unsupervised.

- The dog sitting at my feet attacked my boyfriend during his grossly misguided attempt at "correction" a decade ago. The dog is a rescued fighting breed with amazingly strong jaws, so my boyfriend was lucky to only have the skin on his hand torn up, rather than broken bones. He has never cornered or been threatening to any dog since.

- My very docile, loving lap dog hates having his nails trimmed, so I usually sneak a few nails a day while he sleeps on the couch. I reached out and gripped his paw to clip a nail and he cried out and proceeded to land 4-5 good chomps on my hand before I could withdraw. After dressing my bleeding hand, I took him to the vet and confirmed that his severe arthritis needed to be treated with pain medication.

Every instance injured a human, but was also an understandable response. You give yourself and your dogs every tool to deal with situations, but life can be unpredictable. To me, dog bites are a given in dog ownership. There is just no way to anticipate every instance where your dog may simply react (or be driven to react) with a bite.

If you always believe that a bite is possible, then you always approach situations in a way minimize the risk to yourself and others.

I also have a bird that almost bit my finger off when I was freeing her trapped leg. I still carry the scars, but, again, it is an expected risk of parrot ownership.
posted by Vysharra at 4:30 PM on October 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's a bit confounding how much of this discussion has focused on human-aggressive dogs, which I suspect are a small subset of dogs in need of space.

Yes, I have a dog I work. She's very friendly and she's beautiful and soft and gentle and rubs up on you like a big cat and everyone wants to pet her. Which is not OK when I need her tiny brain to be focused on my commands. She's got ADD and is kind of a mediocre working dog to start with it doesn't help that people want to hug her and give her hot dogs all the time.
posted by fshgrl at 9:22 PM on October 2, 2012


Area Man: If your dogs are so dangerous (and I don't care whether it comes from fear or aggression) why are you walking them anywhere near children?

Because where else are people supposed to walk their dogs than on the sidewalks we all share? When was the last time you saw someone training an aggressive dog at the preschool playground? If I had a penny for every parent who excused his child's dangerous behavior by saying, "Well, he's a kid," I could retire now, and I don't even own a dog. Try keeping a shorter leash on your kids instead of accusing dog owners of endangering them by existing in the same world.
posted by swerve at 11:14 AM on October 3, 2012


Because where else are people supposed to walk their dogs than on the sidewalks we all share? When was the last time you saw someone training an aggressive dog at the preschool playground? If I had a penny for every parent who excused his child's dangerous behavior by saying, "Well, he's a kid," I could retire now, and I don't even own a dog. Try keeping a shorter leash on your kids instead of accusing dog owners of endangering them by existing in the same world.

Meh. You're the one imposing your choice to own a dog on everyone else, just because, well, you wanted a dog, despite living in a place that is not suited for one.

Dogs are work animals. That's why they exist. If you don't raise sheep or hunt rabbits or whatever, why do you have dogs? Might as well have an ox.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:59 AM on October 3, 2012


Dogs are work animals. That's why they exist.

So are cats. Where are your granaries at?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:18 PM on October 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Sys Rq: Meh. You're the one imposing your choice to own a dog on everyone else, just because, well, you wanted a dog, despite living in a place that is not suited for one.

I chose not to have children, but people impose their children on me all the time (kicking the back of my seat on airplanes, having temper tantrums outside on my quiet street, spilling ice cream on my coat at hockey games) just by existing in the same world. I can't even stay away from them, as I can with a leashed dog. I find dog owners more responsible than many parents, really.
posted by swerve at 12:46 PM on October 3, 2012


I chose not to have children, but people impose their children on me all the time (kicking the back of my seat on airplanes, having temper tantrums outside on my quiet street, spilling ice cream on my coat at hockey games)

You were a child once. Consider it payback.

I weren't never no dog, though.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:01 PM on October 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


So are cats. Where are your granaries at?

Same place as my cats: In your imagination.

Again: Urban dogs. Why?
posted by Sys Rq at 2:04 PM on October 3, 2012


Urban dogs. Why?

Burglar alarm with teeth.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 2:33 PM on October 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Again: Urban dogs. Why?

Because some dogs, like some people, are very social?

I have a larger breed I adopted off a rural farm and brought to the city and he loved it from the get-go. Every time we go out he gets to meet new people, other dogs, even cats (though he's afraid of those now that a few have pushed him around).
posted by mannequito at 2:45 PM on October 3, 2012


Again: Urban dogs. Why?

Because you live longer, live healthier, and live happier.

If you have kids, they're likely to be healthier, too.

Dogs are a client species that co-evolved with humans. We helped them, they helped us on the way from ug to here. We're a good match. There's something to be said for continuing biological systems that are thousands of years in the making.

Plus, dogs are cool and look cute in bandannas.
posted by sonascope at 2:49 PM on October 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Urban dogs? Why?

Because my dog has saved my life. Has given me more love and support than any human being ever has. Has stopped me from killing myself. Stopped me from self-harming.

Because I do not live in the country I should not have access to the love from another creature? That seems highly unfair.

My dog is a beagle mix. She was burnt and attacked by dogs before I got her. Yet she is willing to be any human beings best friend. She is more forgiving of this species than I am. I consider it my duty on this earth to repay her for what she suffered with kindness and love.

Yet things scare her: Loud voices, dogs when she can't escape (on a leash), thunder, skateboards, horns, anger, places that smell like dogs, deer, raccoons, sheep, cows. She wouldn't survive as a working dog. If we outlawed all dogs that aren't working dogs what do we do with all the ones left over that have been damaged by humans?

I don't understand what is hard about this topic to understand. People aren't putting a yellow ribbon on their dog and letting them roam around and bite anyone who even looks at their dog. People just want another barrier to make others understand *now* isn't a good time to approach this animal.
posted by kanata at 3:56 PM on October 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


I chose not to have children, but people impose their children on me all the time (kicking the back of my seat on airplanes, having temper tantrums outside on my quiet street, spilling ice cream on my coat at hockey games) just by existing in the same world. I can't even stay away from them, as I can with a leashed dog. I find dog owners more responsible than many parents, really.

Really, this thread is now supposed to become about whether kids or dogs are more offensive? That's ridiculous. Kids will always exist in the world with you. Raging against it is just silly. Dogs will also continue to live with humans. As sonascope notes, they've been domestic animals for a long time, and they offer protection and companionship.

I really don't have a general problem with people owning dogs, and I haven't written anything suggesting they shouldn't exist. I've had dogs myself. I like dogs. In real life, most dog owners I run into handle themselves and their dogs just fine. I think I made that point in one of my comments somewhere above. My whole issue in this thread has been with certain commenters who seem to think that is just fine and dandy that their dog is going to bite anyone who touches it or comes too close, and that the responsibilty for avoiding such incidents is on others. I think people with such dogs need to take pains to avoid getting those dogs near other people. Most of them do, probably even those who make the comments with which I disagreed the most. I've tried to be pretty reasonable. I'm sorry if I offended you.
posted by Area Man at 4:02 PM on October 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


My whole issue in this thread has been with certain commenters who seem to think that is just fine and dandy that their dog is going to bite anyone who touches it or comes too close, and that the responsibilty for avoiding such incidents is on others.

Substitute "my GF" with "their dog" and you're going to wish you tangled with the dog.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:18 PM on October 3, 2012


Again: Urban dogs. Why?

Because for some of us dogs are a part of life, a way of life, the essential joy of life. This is such a mean question, I am having difficulty responding, but if you knew me and knew what my dogs meant to me, I hope you would respect us.

My dogs are my lifeline to the world. As someone with a chronic illness, they are the only reason I leave the house on some days, and they keep me moving which I critically need. As someone who is painfully shy, they connect me with people through friends, through strangers who admire them, through the volunteering we do. As a person living alone, they give me companionship and an abiding sense of safety. As a woman walking at night with Very Large Dogs, they give me actual protection just through deterrence. They give me a sense of purpose and care. I know their lives are better for being with me, but my life is better beyond measure with them.

I hope you heard that. Dogs make my life not just bearable, but better.

Having said that, here's a less personal part. To paraphrase sonascope, dogs are so intertwined in our DNA, you cannot get it out of some of us. The most cavemen of us read dog behavior books endlessly, train and train and train, search out other dog owners who really give dogs some thought, search out activities our dogs will excel at.

And it was probably hyperbole in another post to say Dogs are work animals. That's why they exist, but not all dogs were bred for a job. Even among the many breeds that were, it's perhaps what, one in 5000? 10,000? 50,000? that actually gets to do the specific job they were bred for decades, centuries or thousands of years ago. That has been true for multiple generations now, and it is sad, but the good news is that all the time that the dogs were working, they were our companions too. That hasn't changed. People and dogs are partners in life.
posted by vers at 6:58 PM on October 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


I hope you heard that. Dogs make my life not just bearable, but better.

Another very good point. The dog-human relationship is mutually beneficial.

I don't have a chronic illness, but I am prone to being a lazy fuck. We're into October now and the weather is unseasonably warm, but I could have easily wasted my entire day today reading my book and browsing metafilter. Instead I had this beast gnawing on my arm dragging me out into the sunshine 3 times, plus again this evening when I took him to his puppy school.
posted by mannequito at 12:57 AM on October 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


But she does freak out when strangers get within her comfort zone, which is generally about a 2 foot radius

While appreciating that people with dogs with issues often are doing the best they can and trying to warn people off their animals (as in this project) this is quite a lot of space to be giving a dog and its owner in a city. If you're walking a dog and need a 2 foot bubble all around you, you'd pretty much take up the entire sidewalk where I live (seeing that you and your dog also need space). Given that I'm near a major park and tourist area with a LOT of people walking with and without dogs, that just wouldn't be possible. It's worth noting that frequently it just isn't possible to give dogs space because there is no space to give: in an urban environment asking for more space may result in not getting it, not because people are jerks, but because they'd rather not walk in the road.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 9:25 AM on October 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


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