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The Yellow Dog Project - Creating Awareness for Dogs Who Need Space



A friend of mine, Tim McLarty from Ontrack Communications in Toronto, recently sent me an email about this awareness campaign called The Yellow Dog Project. (He knows what a crazy dog person I am).  It is such a simple concept.   As described on their website;  "The Yellow Dog Project was created to bring awareness to the general public about dogs who need space while training, recovering from surgery, or being rehabilitated".

By placing a yellow ribbon on your dog's leash, it alerts people to not approach your dog with their dog(s).  To give them space.   Plain and simple.  The reason they may need space is that they have:

  • Health issues
  • Are being trained
  • Rehabilitating from an injury or from abuse (especially with rescued dogs)
  • Or are just simply scared and reactive of other dogs.

Yellow dog project postcard

This clever and practical awareness campaign is spreading all across the world and to help make that happen, they offer posters, postcards and tearsheet downloads in 47 languages.   There is also a yellow ribbon image that can be posted on company or organization's websites or blogs to help support the project.

I know when my dog Oscar was recovering from being hit by a vehicle a few years back (a dog mom's worst nightmare, by the way) I was always letting people in the dog park know not to have their dogs get too close.  Oscar was "skittish" and still in discomfort and having a dog wanting to play with and chase him wasn't ideal.  He did eventually bounce back to his old self, but had this campaign been "out there" then, I wouldn't have had to repeat myself so many times and feel awkward in doing so.

I encourage all my readers to take the time to print off the poster and chat up a local business who offers laminating service.  Then put them up in your local dog parks.   (I have a laminator at home, which I use any chance I can get.  Heck - I don't want to be cremated when I die.  I want to be laminated)   I'm going to print a few posters off and display them in our dog parks. 

  Facebook button
The Yellow Dog Project has a very active Facebook page and definitely worth liking.   After finishing this post I'm heading back into my blog settings and adding the Yellow Ribbon in my sidebar to show my support.  This is a wonderful project and hoping it catches on everywhere!


Here's to giving dogs their space!




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I've been a fan of this project, but recently had someone share a very different -- and perhaps equally valid -- viewpoint on the subject. She's a veterinarian, and she's made me think about it differently.

As she said, "If I am walking with my leashed, well-behaved dog, why do I need to put a ribbon on my dog because someone else is not controlling THEIR dog?" Her point is that her dog is not charging or attacking other dogs, her dog simply prefers not to have other dogs in her face -- the same way she would not like a strange person to charge her or put their face two inches from hers. It's not appropriate behavior, and responsible owners don't allow their dogs to do this.

So why should a responsible owner be forced to put a ribbon on their dog to accommodate those who are irresponsible? And if we do this, are we inadvertently stigmatizing the dog rather than teaching appropriate behavior to the owners?:

Wouldn't we be better served to educate irresponsible dog owners about the importance of controlling their dogs?

I get her point. I have a nosy lab (who, if uncontrolled, would charge up to and kiss every strange dog on the planet), and a more aloof shep mix (who prefers dogs to not be in her face). We walk every night, and two or three times a week, get charged by any of a variety of neighborhood dogs that got loose, or were off leash when they shouldn't be. Usually, these are labs or other overly friendly breeds, and thankfully, neither of my dogs seem phased by being charged by a strange dog. However, I do worry that sooner of later, one of these nice but clueless neighborhood dogs is going to charge the wrong dog and end up getting bitten. Sadly, the blame will likely not fall on the irresponsible owner whose dog was running loose in the first place but rather will fall on the dog who was likely protecting him or herself -- or owner -- from the perceived threat of a strange, charging dog.

A yellow ribbon may be one solution for giving dogs their space...and perhaps it's a good one if the idea catches on -- but perhaps a better solution would be to educate dog owners about the importance of controlling their dogs and asking permission before allowing their dog to greet/charge/pounce on/kiss a strange dog.

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