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How to make it clear your dog is friendly and can be petted?

The Service and Therapy Dog forum is for all service and therapy dogs regardless of whether or not their status is legally defined by federal or state law, how they are trained, or whether or not they are "certified." Posts questioning or disputing a person's need for a service or therapy dog, the validity of a person's service or therapy dog, or the dog's ability to do the work of a service or therapy dog are not permitted in this forum. Please keep discussions fun, friendly, and helpful at all times.

  
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Bianca CGC- TT HIC Thd- ♥

What big ears- you have...
 
 
Barked: Sun Oct 2, '11 11:35pm PST 
I take Bianca out a lot to dog friendly places, festivals, etc... She is a therapy dog and she loves to get attention and be petted by people, so I am trying to figure out the best way to indicate that she is friendly and can be petted, such as something she can wear

We have a few different common reactions we get depending on the situation:
Some people think she is a mean dog because she is a German Shepherd, or just that she won't like strangers because of her breed.
Sometimes she wears a Halti and people mistake it for a muzzle and I overhear things like a kid asking their parent if they can pet the dog and the parent saying "no, he has a muzzle" or something.
Other times I think people just don't realize that Bianca is interested in being petted because I do not allow her to go up and solicit attention from people without permission, and she is not that demonstrative even though she loves people.
If she is wearing her backpack, which I often use on walks so she can carry some of her own stuff, people sometimes mistake her for a service dog. I tried adding patches to the pack that said "Ask To Pet Me I'm Friendly" but it seemed to make people think she was a service dog even more.
Another thing, sometimes we go out to events and things with my sister and her husband and his guide dog. I overhear people saying don't disturb those dogs, they are working or kids asking their parents and the parents saying no you can't pet those dogs, they're working dogs. While I think it's great that people realize they can't pet my BIL's guide dog, I'd like to make it clear Bianca is not a service dog (and that they can pet her if they want.)

So far, I've tried several things that didn't seem to work well. I tried a bandana that has her name and "I'm Friendly" embroidered on it. I also bought one that says "Don't Just Stand There, Pet Me!" but the only people who seem to read it are the ones already petting her. I also made a pin that says Ask To Pet Me I'm Friendly and tried pinning that to a bandana and a harness but no one noticed it.

Basically I want to make it clear to the people who want to pet her but either think she is mean, working, or not interested that she is friendly and they are welcome to come up and meet her if they want.

I thought about getting a patch with different wording than the one I had, but I am not sure what wording would be more obvious and not confuse people.
I've seen some that just say "Pet Me I'm Friendly" or "I'm Friendly Please Pet Me" but I am not sure about that because I would rather that people did ask me first, instead of just running up and petting her (not that she minds!)
Maybe patches in general are a bad idea though because they seem to indicate 'service dog' to some people no matter what they actually say?
The bandanas don't seem to work that well either because people don't seem to read them, and they also tend to either get bunched up on her neck or move to a spot where they're hard to see. I am not sure the alternative?
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John

Sqeuaky?
 
 
Barked: Mon Oct 3, '11 1:28am PST 
Want to trade problems? lol

What about a t-shirt or some type of cape that is obviously not SD-like. If your dog would tolerate a t-shirt with big block letters printed on it I think that would get over the working dog image but personify her enough to make her appear approachable to people who might have doubts.
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Ezti

Strangers are- just long lost- friends!
 
 
Barked: Mon Oct 3, '11 4:01am PST 
I think John's idea is a great one! Any time I see a dog wearing a t-shirt, I immediately think Cute/Friendly. cheer
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Jesse

Don\'t Give Up
 
 
Barked: Mon Oct 3, '11 5:17am PST 
The T-shirt works very well. Jesse has one and its reads "pet me, I love attention"
It is a bright blue and kids see it right away smile
I have also seen bows too for girl dogs. It tends to make the "meaner" looking breeds look friendly.
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Bella and- Daisy CGC

I'm a Meanie
 
 
Barked: Mon Oct 3, '11 6:13am PST 
Sometimes Daisy has this issue. People associate "mean" dog like dobermans and rotties with her coloring and coonhounds aren't popular here so people don't know them.

Daisy gets more attention when she wears her rhinestone collar and I recently found out brightly painted nails can draw some attention. She also had a Bandana she wears sometimes.

Also, being friendly yourself. The more outgoing I am, the more eye contact and smiles at people showing a little interest in her, the more people come up and ask questions.
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Bianca CGC- TT HIC Thd- ♥

What big ears- you have...
 
 
Barked: Mon Oct 3, '11 10:46am PST 
I have this t-shirt:
http://www.zazzle.com/im_friendly_ask_to_pet_me_shirt_dog_ shirt-155894623198716309

I haven't had her wear it out anywhere yet though, mostly because it's too hot in the summer. Also the lettering is kinda pale so not that easy to see/read possibly. I probably should've gone with black letters.

I did have the groomer paint her nails lavender once, before we went on a trip, because I thought it might make her seem less "scary" but I am not sure if anyone even noticed it.

When you say bows, do you mean in her fur? I'm not sure if I could get them to stay in since she doesn't have long fur. thinking
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Lucille

I am the Sock- Bandit!!!
 
 
Barked: Mon Oct 3, '11 11:07am PST 
The groomer sticks a small bow in Lucille's hair after every groom, even if the hair is only like an eight of an inch long. The bows are on teeny tiny elastics and the groomer gets them on a tiny strand of hair right next to an ear. Let me tell you, they stay on until I struggle to get them off.

I'm sure they get them in volume, so they're not expensive.

She's a big black dog, and a bow does change how people react to her, I've noticed.
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Twister

wouldn't harm a- fly...XD
 
 
Barked: Mon Oct 3, '11 11:53am PST 
The t-shirt and hair bows are good ideas. Maybe even instead of a bandanna you could have a bow around her neck. Wish I could pet her! wink
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Bianca CGC- TT HIC Thd- ♥

What big ears- you have...
 
 
Barked: Mon Oct 3, '11 12:12pm PST 
Twister, I bet Bianca wishes you could pet her too! smile

My groomer used to put bows in my Golden's fur using those mini rubber bands, but Ginger had more fur and even then they didn't always stay in well. I'll give it a try with Bianca though!

The reason I thought of this topic is we went to a crowded festival yesterday and we got several comments like I mentioned in my first post, including several people commenting on not to disturb the "working dogs" since my BIL's dog was there.
At one point I was waiting for someone and I overheard these two boys talking about Bianca and their mother going 'no, no, they're working'. I didn't catch the whole conversation since we were a few feet away but we were close enough that I was able to tell them she was not a "working dog" and ask if they wanted to pet her. They came over and petted her and I told Bianca to "go say hi" (her cue that she can approach someone to be petted). The boys were standing side by side and it was so cute because as soon as I said that, Bianca went up and gently leaned against both of them at once while they petted her.
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Twister

wouldn't harm a- fly...XD
 
 
Barked: Mon Oct 3, '11 12:51pm PST 
Awww! She sounds adorable! I think Twister has a crush on her! flowers
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