Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Unique “Message” Collars Can Make Dog Walking Safer

By Linda Cole

I have yet to find a dog who doesn't enjoy going on walks. However, the problem is that not all dogs are leash trained, nor are they all friendly. Sometimes, a meeting between two dogs doesn't go as well as both owners expected. I recently heard about a new idea in collars, leashes and harnesses, with messages that can help make dog walking safer for dogs, their owners and other people.

A company in the United Kingdom has come up with a simple way to send a clear signal to people approaching with their dog or someone just walking that tells them if a dog is friendly, isn't interested in making a new friend, or needs space to stay calm. Dexil’s Friendly Dog Collars were designed to let strangers know what a dog's temperament is like before they are near him. The purpose of the collars is to hopefully cut down on dog-on-dog encounters and dogs biting people who simply want to pet them. It's a system based on a traffic light.

You can get a collar, lead or harness with a simple message embroidered in black on them. A green collar with the word “Friendly” means that the dog is good with adults, kids and other dogs. Orange with “No Dogs” means he's happy to meet people, but he's not good with other dogs. Red with “Caution” means to stay away, and do not approach this dog. He needs his space and doesn't want you to pet him.

Other messages are available, including two for special needs pets. A gold color signifies a “Nervous” dog that may be unpredictable if approached. White is for a “Blind Dog” that may be limited in his sight or completely blind. White is also used for “Deaf Dog,” which means he's hard of hearing or completely deaf. Blue says “Training,” for dogs being trained by their owner, so please do not disturb. Yellow is a good one for shelters and rescue groups; it says “Adopt Me.”

A message on a collar, leash or harness is a good idea, but proper socialization and training shouldn't take a back seat. Dogs that receive basic training are less likely to end up in a shelter because of behavior problems, and it's much easier to control your dog and keep him safe when he follows your commands. Socializing your pet to different kinds of environments, sights, sounds, other dogs and people helps keep him happy, calm,and well balanced. Positive training with your dog's favorite CANIDAE treat is one of the best ways to strengthen the bond between you.

Walking a dog, at times, can be a bit of a gamble. If your dog is not as dog friendly as you would like, or he's skittish around strangers, meeting another dog can cause you to whirl around and walk away as fast as you can. Sometimes it's a child that suddenly comes running over because she wants to pet the doggy, and you freeze because your dog isn't fond of kids. A message on a collar, however, won't stop a kid who hasn't learned how to read, and the best way to protect your child from unnecessary dog bites is to teach them how to approach an unfamiliar dog.

My first dog, Jack, was a people and dog friendly fellow. He loved playing with kids and wouldn't hurt a fly...unless he was at the vet. Sitting in the waiting room, he'd hide under a chair or in a corner. Anyone who approached him was met with an apprehensive stare. Jack was a handsome American Eskimo who always drew attention while we waited, but people didn't always listen when I asked them to stay away, and I was the one who got grumpy stares if Jack growled. The point is, even a friendly dog can be nervous or scared in certain situations, and is apt to lash out in the only way they know how.

A message on a collar that alerts people to stay away can help prevent dog-on-dog aggression, as well as dog bites if you have to break up a fight. The brightly colored collars are also a safe way for older kids, and people who aren't good at reading a dog's body language, to quickly see if the canine they are approaching is friendly or not. After all, the goal when walking your dog is to make sure humans and dogs are kept safe while you enjoy a stroll with your best friend.

Photos courtesy of Friendly Dog Collars

Read more articles by Linda Cole


  1. This is a great idea. I am wondering how visible they would be on my long haired dog?

  2. These are a GREAT idea. I'm ordering some for my dogs and spreading the word.

  3. Love the idea!!!! Now all we have to do is make sure the general public is literate. MOL

    I have volunteered at Best Friends in Utah and they have a colored collar system - green is ok for everyone, purple is 18 and over and red is staff only. Such an EASY way to see at a distance and be aware.

  4. That's a smart idea! I like it! Thanks for sharing!

  5. They do look like a good idea, but what do you do with the person who thinks the warning is for everyone but him (or her).
    They say things like "I have never met a dog that didn't love me." Maybe get a headband that says THIS MEANS YOU! My Stella is a cupcake and loves everybody, but I used to walk a dog that was not and it was no fun trying to warn people off.


  6. Nice blog and great information, which you have mentioned in your post.


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