Okotoks town council is supporting a plan they hope will keep dogs — and people — safe.
The Dog Early Warning System (DEWS) uses three types of coloured bandanas to alert people to a dog's temperament so they can gauge how to approach it. While children are usually taught to ask before petting a dog, not all adults do, says one of the town's councillors.
"Kind of like a mood ring," said Coun. Tanya Thorn. "Basically what it is is a visual signal for other people out there to cause them to kind of think about how they approach the dog ... Kids are better at it than adults, actually. They'll come up and ask if they can pet but adults get right down there."
Thorn says an Okotoks woman brought the idea to council last fall and that while the council is supporting the idea, it's not mandatory and they aren't going to be providing funding for it.
Owners can choose whether their dog will wear one of the bandanas.
A green one indicates the dog is okay to approach.
Yellow signals the approaching person should use caution and red indicates they should not approach the dog.
Rather than acting as a good dog/bad dog classifier, Thorn says the bandanas provide insight into the dog's mood at the moment it is wearing it.
For example, a dog in a training program might wear a red bandana to warn people to stay away and not interrupt.
It could also signal the owner is in a hurry and doesn't want to stop for anyone to pet their dog.
Thorn says they need to do more research into possible legal implications before offering financing.
The DEWS non-profit group is selling the bandanas for $5.95 each and they can also be purchased at pet stores or vet clinics in town.