Have you ever seen a dog with a yellow ribbon on its collar or leash and wondered what it’s about? The Yellow Dog Project is a not-for-profit movement to help dog owners and the public identify dogs that need a little bit of extra space.
While it is always important to ask the owner before approaching a dog, dogs with a yellow ribbon – yellow dogs – are dogs who need space. It may be permanent, or it may be a temporary situation, but there are plenty of times when a dog might need space. For example:
- When they are in training. If you’ve ever tried to teach a dog not to jump on people, you know that nothing is as frustrating as someone giving an enthusiastic greeting when he jumps. This rewards the very behavior you are working so hard to change. Of course you know they’re just being nice, but this can undo a lot of progress.
- When they have fear or anxiety issues. When a newly adopted pet or foster dog is trying to learn that the world is not a scary place, a well-meaning stranger who approaches with too much enthusiasm can set them back.
- If they’re in pain. A dog with a medical condition, or one who has just had surgery, may need to stay calm and quiet, or just be handled very gently.
- If they can be aggressive. You may have a great dog – except when he sees someone running at him, or someone with a beard, or someone with a skateboard – whatever the trigger, safety is of the utmost importance, and a yellow ribbon can help.
- Service dogs and service dogs in training. While most service dogs have some sort of vest, harness, or other identifier, that’s not always the case, so a yellow ribbon can serve as ID.
What to do if you see a “yellow dog”
Don’t be afraid to ask the owner about it! If they are working on socialization, for example, the owner may appreciate you doing a certain action at a certain distance that the owner can then praise the dog for ignoring – or whatever the situation may be.
If you don’t want to be involved, that’s okay too – just give the dog a wide berth as you pass, and ignore any behaviors, even if the dog seems friendly – you never know what the owner may be trying to accomplish.
The Yellow Dog Project is not a way for owners to avoid training their dogs, nor is it a waiver of responsibility. The intention is to allow owners and their dogs to work on issues by giving them the space they need to progress through training, recovery, and so on.
For more information, visit www.theyellowdogproject.com.