Those of you who know me personally will be aware that I am starting a new course in university. This exciting new journey is made even better because …… dogs are allowed onto campus! This means that my dog, Halli, will be joining me on the adventure of lectures in Anthropology and Philosophy.. alongside having a dance in the amateur dramatics society! She and I cannot wait.
I rescued Halli when she was 5 months old and have helped develop her confidence ever since. Halli can have moments of fear around people, so over the years with her I have learnt a lot about what helps her feel safe, and how I can communicate to others about her needs. So that others are aware of Halli’s need for space, I have bought her a yellow dog jacket!
This jacket visibly highlights the dog to others, which most recognise as a warning. These jackets do not necessarily mean that the dog is aggressive, however it is best to ask the owner before attempting to interact with the dog. In moments that people approach Halli and I from behind, I cannot ask that they allow her to sniff them first before proceeding to stroke her. This means that there have been a few occasions where she has been spooked by a stranger because they have ignored her body language and stroked her. By purchasing this jacket it will allow the initial meet and greet period to go smoothly as Halli will be able interact with people on her terms, instead of people forcing unwanted attention on her.
What to do when you see a dog in a yellow jacket
1. Put your dog on a lead. (The dog may not be aggressive, however it is important to put your dogs safety first)
2. Look at the dogs body language and ask the dog guardian whether it is okay to approach.
3. If you interact with the dog, allow them to sniff the back of your hand first. (A large hand towering down over their face can be scary!)
4. You can kneel down to the dogs level so that you are not intimidating leaning over them.
5. If you recognise discomfort or fearful/aggressive body language, give the dog space.
If you are ever in doubt, give the dog space. If you have to approach the dog, do so side on, as it isn’t such a threat. Remember if you are unsure and tense… the dog will know!