Dog Flags let canines show their colors
There’s a new product on the market called “Dog Flags” — designed, their maker says, to “simplify the relationship between dog owners and the public at large.”
They come in five colors, with five labels — “Please Don’t Approach,” “Friendly,” “I’m in Training,” “Special Needs,” and “I’m Shy.”
You attach them to your dog’s leash. They cost five bucks. They also come in bandana form.
“With over 80 million owned dogs as pets in the United States alone, being able to know at a glance which canines you can approach and which ones you should leave alone goes a long way to avoiding unwanted incidents,” the company behind them says.
The flags may not be an entirely stupid concept. But they do over simplify things. Flag or not, it’s still best to ask the owner. Dogs, like humans, can be friendly one day, shy the next. To put a “Special Needs” label on your dog would seem to raise more questions than it answers — not that there’s anything wrong with that. And as for “I’m in Training,” aren’t we all? Pretty much always?
As for those dogs who need a red flag, some of them shouldn’t be out in the park/streets/coffee shops in the first place — at least not in those cases where they are still under the guardianship of the human who most likely turned them into a red flag dog. Then again, those humans aren’t likely to purchase a flag for their dog, anyway.
The tiered color system is similar to that used at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Utah, but that’s a special environment where dogs are being rehabilitated. To suggest that all dogs in society should bear temperament flags (though nobody is, yet) is a little too Big Brotherish for my taste.
While there may be situations in which they come in handy, Dog Flags seem a shortcut to a more desirable scenario, a public — and I’m talking about both dog owners and non-dog owners — that’s more educated about dogs and how to approach and treat them.
Planting flags on dogs — “I hereby proclaim you … Shy” — seems a tad paternalistic. As with shock collars, my opinion is, unless you’re willing to try one on yourself first, don’t subject your dog to it.
Then again, Human Flags could come in handy.
I would probably get a yellow one — not for Ace, but for myself — and perhaps a red one for times I want to be alone, and maybe a green one for when I’m feeling frisky.
If they ever come out with a purple one that says “Freak,” I would probably get it, too, for there are times — rare though they are — that I feel like letting my freak flag fly.
If I did get one for Ace, it would have to be the green one. Sometimes, people veer away and cross the street when they see him. People often assume because he’s big he must be mean, or at least don’t want to get close enough to find out. But I’d probably rather a select and interested few take the time to slowly approach and get to know him than slap a “friendly” label on him and have children start climbing aboard.
“With … dogs increasingly going to human destinations, such as coffee shops, and cafes, Dog Flags become an important tool in preventing unnecessary incidents,” the Dog Flags website says. “… When your dog is wearing Dog Flags, everyone will know what to expect.”
It’s not that quick and easy. One can never totally know what to expect, with dogs or humans. So we suggest approaching both with a little bit of caution — no matter what their flags say.
Posted by jwoestendiek February 17th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, bandana, behavior, blue, colors, dog flags, dog products, dogs, flags, friendly, green, humans, i'm in training, labels, leash, orange, pets, please don't approach, products, public, red, relationship, shy, special needs, tags, temperament, warning, yellow