Most people know not to approach a dog that is menacingly growling or aggressively barking, but those aren’t the only clues you should be mindful of when you see a pup you want to pet. It turns out that the color of a canine’s collar is very important as well, especially if it is red.
Pet owners use a red collar, a red banana or sometimes even a red leash as a warning to those around them. So what does it mean? As with many things colored red, it signifies “stop.” Veterinarian Dr. Brian Evans told Reader’s Digest, “Red is the signal that this pet is aggressive and needs space from both people and other animals. These are pets that have been known to snap or bite at passersby, attack other dogs, or lunge at people. These pets may be perfectly fine at home with their owner but become overly protective of them when they are out.”
While this might be the case, it is likely not widely known, even to dog owners, however in professional settings where dogs are the focus, using colors like this has been happening for a long time. The National Association of Canine Scent Work is a big fan of it, with one animal behavior consultant explaining, “The red bandana simply warns others to give the dog distance, yet allows the person and dog to participate in relative safety.”
So what do you do if you see a dog in red? Well it doesn’t always mean to stay away, but regardless of what color a pooch has on, you should always ask the owner permission to pet their dog.
Red isn’t the only color to look out for either. Yellow means that pets can be nervous and, because of that, unpredictable. Like a traffic light, it means that you should slow down and be cautious around them, but there is no need to outright stop. Also like a traffic light, green means that the dog is approachable, but you should still ask for permission from their owner. As for orange, that signifies that a dog doesn’t interact well with other animals, and blue typically means that the pooch is a working dog, service animal or in training and shouldn’t be touched for those reasons.