The Romans produced the first ‘Beware of the Dog’ signs. Notices warning ‘cave canem’ have been discovered in ruins in both Rome and Pompeii. The signs were intended to protect the dogs rather than the citizens, however. Historians think they were designed to warn people against stepping on the small Italian greyhounds that were popular at the time.
Dogs were hugely popular in Roman society. (Unlike cats which were introduced by the Greeks but proved unpopular until they showed themselves to be talented mole catchers and were used to guard artichoke beds in the 4th Century AD.)
The Romans thought dogs were capable of performing all sorts of roles and were the first to use them as guide dogs. On the wall of a house buried in ash during the famous eruption of Vesuvius at Pompeii is a depiction of a blind man with a staff being led by a small dog, dating from 74BC.