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Be Responsible, Respectful, Safe: Ask First!

Can I get a drum roll up in here?

I’m so happy to present the brand new DINOS Public Service Announcement: Ask First!

Check out this retro-tastic poster from my favorite design geniuses over at Design Lab Creative Studios:

DINOS: Ask First Poster

Want one?

You can get the poster for free on Flickr. Just right click, hit “save as” to download, and print!

There are also translations (Italian, German, Spanish, Japanese) of the poster available on Flickr.

Or you can purchase quality prints of the poster, in various sizes, on Cafe Press.

As a companion piece, you can download and print this brand new Ask First handout

And just in case you want more…there are Ask First tees and stickers.


Ok, that’s the business end of things, but let’s get to the heart of the matter:

Why Ask First?

Because whenever you see a dog, you should always ask permission before you approach them.

Never assume it’s OK for you or your dog or your kid to approach a dog without asking first. I mean, you know what they say about assuming right? It’s the truth.

When you see a dog walking on leash, sitting in the waiting room at the vet’s office, walking next to his owner in a pet store, working as a service dog, or just about any where, you should ask before you let your dog greet them or you make a move to pet that dog.

Just ask first.

Ask First DINOS

It only takes a very brief moment and with just one question, “Can I/my dog/my kid say hello to your dog?” you’ll be respectful of others, responsible for your actions, and you’ll be safety first.

The nice thing about asking is that it’s something all of us can do at any time. All you need is your voice. It’s that simple.

This may seem silly  – it is common sense after all – but I think that we’re all overdue for a reminder. Most of us are teaching children to ask before they approach dogs, but the adults need a refresher course too. And we all need to recognize that this applies to dog-dog greetings as well.

Let’s help people form a new habit. If they’re reminded enough, perhaps more folks will remember to ask permission before they let their dogs or themselves run over to say “hi” to a dog. They’ll stop making assumptions and start making responsible choices.

I know it’s a long shot and it won’t reach the truly reckless dog owners out there,  but a friendly reminder can’t hurt right?

By the way, dogs don’t have to be a DINOS for this to idea to apply. Even dogs that are really social and able to meet others at any time deserve to be treated with respect. And all dog owners have a right to say “no thank you” for whatever reasons they choose.

It’s our right as dog owners to decide what’s best for our individual dogs and ourselves. Asking first allows all of us to make that choice.

In fact, this applies any time any of us are out in public with our dogs. Before you let your dog jump up to greet a child: Ask First. Before you let your dog pull his retractable leash over to a senior citizen: Ask First. Before you allow your dog to approach anyone unfamiliar (you never know who is afraid of dogs!): Ask First.

So why not Ask First and be responsible, respectful and safe around all dogs, all the time?

If you think the public could use a little refresher on this idea, please print out a poster and hang it in a vet’s office, a pet store, a school, an on-leash area, or any place where folks need a reminder to Ask First!

And if you do, snap a photo and share it with Team DINOS on Facebook!

p.s. Some people have asked why there aren’t any yellow ribbons in this poster. I chose to leave them out because the public needs to learn to control their dogs, obey leash laws, and ask first around ALL dogs, not just ones that might be wearing a ribbon!

  1. What a great initiative! Our Ed is a DINO as he tends to get over excited in close proximity. We know his limits, so we make sure to keep him in good situations. However, “my dog is friendly” poo eople sometimes forget we needs space!

    February 2, 2013
  2. Just in the last two days, I had to tell three people to “ask first before letting their dog approach” as they allowed their dog to drag them over to visit my dog, even as I sat to the side of the trail, obviously trying to avoid contact. Every single person sneered at me as they walked by, dragging their dogs behind them and didn’t say a single word of acknowledgement to what I had just said.

    The fourth person allowed their full size, un-neutered, male Lab to charge full bore for over 50 feet at my dog as the leash was dragging behind their dog saying, “It is OK. He is friendly!” I stopped their dog in his tracks from climbing on my dog by jumping in front of their dog and shouting in the dog’s face. They became very angry at me and said, “There isn’t a problem. Nothing happened.” And I said, “That is because I just stopped it from happening.” They remained furious at me and said I was over-reacting, continuing to spit insults at me as I was walking away. I hardly think a yellow ribbon or a t-shirt will stop these people.

    This incident is not unusual. It happens all the time over and over and over.

    February 2, 2013
    • I hear you Jackie. I know this poster won’t make a dent in the really irresponsible, rude dog owners, but I hope that by seeing this Ask First message (repeated over and over, not just from you alone during a stressful walk) it will remind some folks that we can’t make assumptions about other people or their dogs…we have to ask, before we act. We all have to be responsible for our actions and our dogs. And we need to control our dogs and be respectful towards ALL dogs, not just ones wearing a yellow ribbon. Being ribbon-less isn’t an invitation for bad behavior!

      February 3, 2013
  3. Susan #

    Such a great idea and initiative!! This was always a stressor for me n ultimately kept me and my Josie out of area parks due to unaware owners. My Josie was terrified of large dogs, but was ok unless they came up to her. So many owners would walk right up until I stopped them, and I got negative responses.

    February 3, 2013
  4. barksNpurrs #

    Love this poster/flyer….plan to share….both of our rescues are DINOS & both are loving, friendly dogs to many people & even other dogs BUT NOT to ALL dogs & ALL people, ALL the time…..I cringe when I see a person in the distance, w/a dog….of course, I go the other way, w/out tensing up but it can be a challenge. We do make a point of walking where others do not & it’s beautiful & enjoyable walks but we must get into the car & drive to these places…our dogs love the car ride plus the walks but it would be nice to just once be able to walk right out our door & take that walk…..but we can’t & haven’t w/most of our dogs since we only adopt dogs (& cats) w/issues. Some people will get the message as they read these posters & some won’t–mostly those who have NO clue ! I just call them hopeless ones b/c no matter what & how you say/explain something to them, nothing changes. We are “safety first” w/our animals & that’s it…..of course, topped w/tons of love!
    Kudos for the poster…..nicely done !!

    February 3, 2013
  5. WhiteDane #

    My Great Dane is a DINO (And deaf), and I want to print these out and post them around my apartment building and Neighbourhood. (I wish your dog shirts came in a bigger size. the site says they only come up to a 3XL but that wouldn’t fit him as the 2XL is for an 80lbs dog)
    Our neighbourhood is full of dogs, and rarely do I see them leashed. I’ve had to tell someone thye have to move out of the doorway and go attend to their dog because they let their fluffy little white dog run wild while they stood in the warmth of the doorway. I’ve seen people who don’t even have a collar on their dog and let it run loose to use the bathroom (and don’t pick up after their dog).
    I also want to thank you for not using the yellow ribbons. Here in Ontario, Yellow is the colour for supporting the removal of the pit bull ban. It confuses people here because they don’t know what the ribbon means. (They also don’t seem to care! I’ve had my dog in what appears to be a service dog harness and still had people touch his back end, his paws when he’s laying down, or like one girl, weave around my partner, drop to her knees and throw her arms around by Dane’s neck! Then got annoyed with us when we told her that was a good way to get her face bitten off!)

    February 4, 2013
    • I wish the dog t-shirts came in bigger sizes too! I wonder if this might be a big enough option?

      Sadly, I hear about service dogs being rushed, jumped, and otherwise approached all the time – despite the clear visuals (harnesses with patches that say Do Not Pet) and their owners dependence on them for assistance. The ribbons, vests, t-shirts, etc. are all great tools, but the public really need to learn to be more responsible and respectful with all dogs – no matter what they’re wearing!

      February 4, 2013
  6. Love it, love it, love it! My biggest fear is a child rushing my dog. She doesn’t like it when I surprise her, let alone a little kid who moves quickly and unpredictably. I am so scared I won’t see the child coming and something awful will happen before I can intervene. Luckily we have been okay thus far but the hand gesture in the poster is something I have pulled out many times to the scowling eyes of parents. Drives me crazy!

    February 5, 2013
    • I know just how you feel! I’m like a traffic cop on some dog walks…and I flash the stop sign at loose dogs too (every once in a while, it does work)!

      February 5, 2013
  7. Kristine #

    Love it, love it, love it! My biggest fear is a child rushing my dog. She doesn’t like it when I surprise her, let alone a little kid who moves quickly and unpredictably. I am so scared I won’t see the child coming and something awful will happen before I can intervene. Luckily we have been okay thus far but the hand gesture in the poster is something I have pulled out many times to the scowling eyes of parents. Drives me crazy!

    February 5, 2013
  8. garthriley2007 #

    This is excellent. I especially like that you make the point that people should ask first around ALL dogs. A LOT of dogs don’t like face-to-face greetings with other dogs.

    February 5, 2013
  9. SUCH a great idea (one of those things I wish I would’ve thought of first!). I live next to a dog park, where dogs are free to roam off leash. But next to that is also a huge public park, where city ordinance requires people to keep their dog under control – either on leash or by strict voice commands. Within the past three weeks, I’ve had to yell at three different people with multiple dogs off-leash who ran up to my three dogs – all on leash – and didn’t respond to their owners’ commands at all. Disrespectful at least, and downright dangerous at worst. Thank you for trying to keep everyone safe and happy!

    February 5, 2013
  10. Rob #

    This totally dependent on the location location location.
    If you expect me to intro our dogs while I am riding my mountain bike in an off lease area you can forget it. And if you dog is violent you had better have it under control.
    Treat your dogs like people.

    February 7, 2013
    • To a certain extent, location matters. We certainly would like to see people obey leash laws! However, being in an off leash area isn’t a free pass for bad behavior. Dogs still need to be under your voice control and supervised.

      And this isn’t about violent dogs (though they, like all dogs, should be under control). Many dogs need space for many different reasons. For instance, the Beagle in this poster is my dog – she is old and has arthritis. She likes to meet other dogs, but it has to be a polite greeting or it causes her physical pain.

      And I treat my dogs the way I’d like people to treat each other: responsibly and respectfully!

      February 7, 2013
    • If you are riding your mountain bike and your dog is off leash, it does not seem like you would have any control over your dog, unless your dog was wearing an electronic collar, and you had a hand-held device to enforce everything.

      I don’t understand where the word “violent” is brought in. What is the need to say a dog is violent?

      It is super clear in all off leash dog areas with posted signs that off leash does not mean out of control. An off leash dog is not a substitute for rude and obnoxious behavior from the dog or the person. In fact, it is the exact opposite, off leash means more control and more proper behavior. In no off leash dog park I have ever been to would an obnoxious and rude dog be allowed to say. At one fenced in dog park, I was forced to call the police when the handler and dog was so far out of control.

      Why is it acceptable for a dog to rush up to a strange dog and fly in their face and jump all over them? Would a human ever be allowed to do that same behavior? Of course not! ALWAYS ASK FIRST!

      February 8, 2013
  11. This is a great poster! I wish I could print it out (I have no printer blah) & keep it posted somewhere visible in my car. I have 2 American Bulldogs & while they are very friendly, when kids rush to pet them it makes them nervous, and they end up getting excited & knocking the kid down! Then I feel bad & the parents look at my dogs like they’re dangerous! More people need to be educated on this!

    February 12, 2013
  12. This is beautiful! I have a reactive dog, who is ok with kids if they approach her slowly and pet her one at a time (and I give her several treats throughout the process!), and I always thank kids for asking before they come up to her and tell them to let me have her sit before they pet her. Thanks for helping to get the word out there–it’s a lot easier living with a wonderful, affectionate, funny (but reactive) dog when you know other people understand what you’re going through!

    February 15, 2013
  13. Reblogged this on Zerobites Dog Training.

    July 14, 2013

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