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Posts tagged ‘ask first’

Are You Giving or Taking Space? It Matters.

It’s Dog Bite Prevention Week again. Hey! Ho! Let’s Go (look at some ways to not get bit)!

There are a million ways to prevent dog bites. Fortunately dogs aren’t really into biting us all that much. Did you know there are more than 70 million dogs in this country? That’s a lot of teeth. And yet, they rarely use ’em on us, even when we act like fools. But occasionally, due to a variety of factors, dog bites do happen.

One of the ways that we can prevent dog bites is by thinking about space.

Specifically, how we take space from dogs.

 

When I started talking about Dogs in Need of Space a few years ago, I was looking for a simple way to communicate that all dogs have a right to their personal space and we should do what we can to avoid taking that space from them without permission.

Dog bite prevention tips are often about space (even if that’s not how they’re framing them). That’s because how we give and take space can influence the likelihood of a dog feeling the need to talk to us with their teeth. Let me show you how space plays a role in reducing dog bites:

 

Body Language: The way we move our bodies can help change how dogs are feeling about a situation. For example, we can take a step back, turn our bodies sideways, or crouch down to reduce the amount of space we take up and appear less threatening.

This week I was charged by a loose and under-socialized dog. I slowed my pace and turned my body 3/4 away from the dog to minimize the confrontation. I rocked my weight back, avoided looking directly at the dog, and kept my hands at my sides. I gave him as much space as I could in that moment through my body language. I got sniffed and he left.

Dear human, I am watching you carefully for clues.

Dear human, I am watching you carefully for clues.

 

Leash Laws: Using a leash helps to create space between your dog and other dogs or people (including the elderly and the disabled). When we leash our dogs and keep them by our sides as we pass others it maximizes the amount of space between both parties. This allows the person or the other dog, who may not appreciate meeting another dog while they are on leash, the opportunity to pass by calmly.

Leash laws can reduce bites between dogs, but also to humans (since we’re the ones who usually get bit when we try to intervene in a dog-dog brouhaha).

Not leashing your dog and allowing it to approach another dog  or a person without their permission robs others of their personal space. When that happens, many dogs and people will act in ways that will increase the likelihood of a bite (think: screaming, running away, and hitting or threatening your dog).

Not sure when to leash your dog? Ta-dah!

Proper Containment: Dogs that are properly contained on their property cannot escape to chase passing dogs and people. When we keep our dogs on our property using a fence, a lead, or a rock solid recall/proper supervision, we can create enough space between our dogs and passing pedestrians, playing kids, dog walkers, etc., so that they can all whiz by safely and without incident.

The other day while I was walking two dogs, I was chased by a loose dog that was not happy that we were walking by his lawn. I retreated into the street and up the block a bit to give him as much space as possible. I did not want him to feel as though we were in “his” space and that he had to protect his property. He followed us for 3 houses, then turned back. I gave him space, but I was at risk. You know what would have been a safer way to give that dog space near his property? A fence.

Don't makes us leave our yard.

Guard Wieners say: We see you. Just keep moving and no one gets hot dogged.

 

Being Polite: Every single time you pause to ask permission when meeting an unfamiliar dog you are creating space on multiple levels. You’re creating physical space by stopping your body/hands/your dog from moving forward without an invitation. You’re creating the space to observe by allowing enough time to look at the dog’s body language for clues about how the dog really feels about meeting you or your dog. You are creating the space for a response by allowing the dog and the other owner time to respond to your request, which might be “no”. In which case, you are giving them the space to leave. 

Seriously, just being polite and respectful by asking first is a real winner in the preventing bites category.

 

Kids and Dogs: When we teach kids that they are not to go near the dog when it’s eating or chewing a bone, we’re teaching them to give a dog space. Same goes for teaching them not to use dogs as full body bean bag chairs, not to hug them, not to approach loose or chained dogs, and also to get the heck out of the dog’s crate. It’s all about teaching kids to respect the dog’s space.

Kids, please give this dog space. Then tell your parents to call the SPCA.

Kids, please give this dog space. Then tell your parents to call the SPCA.

 

Avoiding Surprises: If you are a jogger or cyclist, please give dogs physical space by not zooming right up on them. When you make a wide arc around them, you maximize the space between you. Dogs are dogs – they don’t understand why you are running full tilt right at them. When they are surprised by your approach, it increases the likelihood of a bite. Even the best behaved, most well socialized dogs can have a bad moment when they are surprised by having you suddenly in their space.

Good Management: Making good choices gives our dogs the space they need to succeed. When we have guests come over, workmen, unexpected deliveries, etc. we can give our dogs the space they need to feel safe by using crates, gates, leashes, and old-fashion doors to separate them from people. Same goes for on-leash walks. You may need to say “no” when someone tries to approach your dogs. You’re making a smart choice, so don’t worry if  it pisses someone else off. You’re in charge of doing your best to create the space your dog needs to succeed. Always stand up for them.

Rocket Ships: Or, we can forget everything I said, load all of us humans onto a rocket and blast us into space. The dogs would miss us, but we’d prevent lots of bites if we were on Mars. Also, would I get to hangout with Neil DeGrasse Tyson if we were all in space? That would be so rad.

 

This here is a BAD ASS.

This here is a BAD ASS.

 

Wrapping it all up: The next time you’re with dogs and not sure what the best thing to do would be, you can ask yourself:

Am I giving space or taking it away? How can I create space so that everyone stays calm and safe?

 

And so, another Dog Bite Prevention Week comes to a close here on Notes from a Dog Walker with this thought: SPACE, it’s not just about the cosmos, it’s also a great way to prevent a lot of dog bites.

 

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Happy International Assistance Dog Week: How Not to Be a Jerk to Working Dogs

It’s International Canine Assistance Dog Week! In celebration of all the amazing service dogs out there, here are a few basic etiquette tips. Remember, service dogs are DINOS – they need space to do their jobs! When you encounter a working team, please be responsible for your actions and respectful of their space.

Happy International Assistance Dog  Week



If you encounter a service dog and their handler, please keep these tips in mind:

1. Do not touch the dog.

2. Do not let your child touch the dog.

3. Do not let your dog approach the dog. This includes obeying leash laws and having your dogs under your control at all times.

4. If you want to do #1-3, you must ASK FIRST, then wait for their response. Speak directly to the person, not the dog. Treat the human with dignity, please.

5. Respect the handler’s response. If they say “no”, accept this and move on. It’s not personal. You have no idea what the handler is dealing with and they may not be able to safely interact with you or your dogs in that moment. Sometimes handlers will be happy to talk with you about their dogs and other times they won’t be able to do so. Have compassion (they need a service dog for a reason – not just because they’re cute) and allow them to carry on.

6. Do not distract a service dog by whistling, calling out, or offering it a treat. This dog is working and needs to keep his attention on his job. Distracting a service dog can result in the handler getting hurt.

Finally: Never, ever, fake a service dog with your own pet dog. Seriously. Don’t impersonate a service dog team so that you can fly your dog in the cabin or take them into Target with you to shop for sassy t-shirts. It’s ruining things for real service dogs and their people. Don’t exploit someone else’s hardship. It’s just not ok.

international assistance dog week

Purchase this retro-tastic print to raise money for IADW: http://www.cafepress.com/assistancedogweek


Want to learn more?

Please obey leash laws. Leash Laws keep Service Dogs Safe. 

Excellent etiquette tips from Please Don’t Pet Me

Know the Law. The Americans with Disabilities Act and the TWO questions business owners are allowed to ask.

Resources for people with working and assistance dogs: Working Like Dogs

International Assistance Dog Week resources. Celebrate in your community.

Happy Bastille Day: Vive la Ask First!

DINOS PSA poster French

 

Happy Bastille Day!

Let’s start a revolution of respectful, responsible dog ownership.

 

In honor of France’s national holiday on July 14th, here’s the latest in the “Ask First” poster series! Download and print it (for free) from Flickr here. 

You can find all of the Ask First! posters here on the DINOS site. They’re available for free in English, German, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, and now French. There’s even an Ask First! handout to go along with the poster.

Why not print a few out and post them in your local pet store, vet’s office, your training center, or on park bulletin boards? Post them any place you think the public could use a polite reminder that we all have a right to our personal space and appreciate respectful, responsible dog ownership.

Want to know more about these posters and why I chose “Ask First!” as my Public Service Announcement? You can read all about the Ask First campaign here.

You can also purchase high quality prints of the English poster, along with other “Ask First!” gear here on Cafe Press.

DINOS PSA ASK FIRST poster


Vive la revolution!


p.s. thank you to the lovely Elodie for the French translation!


Ask First! Around the World with DINOS

Thanks to all of you, the Ask First! Poster  has been spreading around North America this past month, making its way into vet offices, pet stores, and training centers from coast to coast. If you haven’t bought your copy or printed a freebie flyer  yet, please do and help spread this friendly reminder that we all need to be responsible, respectful, and safe.

Now that we have that covered, it’s time to spread the message internationally!

Here are a few translations of the Ask First! poster to get you started. There are more coming, including a Japanese version, so stay tuned for more.

The posters are available to download for FREE from Flickr (follow the links below to the Flickr images, then right click the image, save it, and you can print 8×10 flyers to share).

GERMAN

DINOS_PSA_poster_German

SPANISH

DINOS_PSA_poster_Spanish

ITALIAN

DINOS_PSA_poster_Italian

More translations coming soon here!

Special thanks to Natalia Martinez, Cora Hartwig, and Francesca Villa for translating the posters!

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!