Protecting your dog and others

Have you ever seen a dog that needed more space from other dogs or people? What if I could tell you that there has been a way to identify these dogs in public since 2012, yet many dog owners are unaware of this simple method? What if I told you that there is an international effort to help dogs to have their own space while also educating their owners and the public? The effort is called the Yellow Dog Project, and it identifies these dogs with a simple yellow ribbon on the leash.

Why would a dog not want to be touched?

  • They may be recovering from a painful surgery
  • They may be ill
  • They may be old and tired
  • They may be a rescue/shelter dog who is still stressed and anxious
  • They may be in training with all of their focus on their owner’s commands
  • They may be a service dog whose focus is solely on providing a service for the owner’s well-being without interference from others
  • They may be “in season”
  • They may have been trained as protection dogs who will react if they or their owner feel threatened
  • They may want to be left alone

So many people expect all dogs to be cuddly, family pets and sadly, too many owners believe their dog will never bite. Why? The dog is friendly at home, plays with the children and has never shown aggression. 

With more people owning dogs, it is even more important today that owners protect their dogs, other dogs, and people around them from being bitten or attacked. Understand your dog’s everyday behavior, what makes them anxious, the effects of medication such as steroids which may cause depression, anxiety, or even aggression. Taking steps to protect everyone is responsible dog ownership.

Many behaviors a dog exhibits are predictable and are similar for people.sickness, If they are ill, recovering from surgery or a sickness, expect them to be anxious. Dogs do not understand surgeries, splints, stitches, or missing limbs. Communicating with the veterinary staff is harder and depends on expression and body language. Dogs cannot focus or hear well while recovering from anestheanesthesia,sia which will be unnatural for them. They do not know who all the strange people are that are poking and prodding them or why they are stuck in a cage attached to another cage with unfamiliar animals and scents. They do not understand why their family is not around to protect them.

Even service dogs can be seen donning yellow vests or bandanas. Err on the side of caution when a dog dons yellow. Service dogs often show no aggression.  They are at work and need to focus on their handler. The same rules apply as if they needed space.  

Know the signs of anxiety. If any of these signs are seen regularly, it is time to see the veterinarian.

  • Panting
  • Excessive yawning
  • Salivation
  • Obsessive licking
  • Gazing around
  • Drooping ears
  • Lowered body language
  • Tucked tail

Your dog may be anxious around people or dogs they do not know. If the dog senses fear, this may lead to a traumatic event for all. This is where the Yellow Dog Project can help everyone. Always keep your dog on a leash in public. Yellow dog ribbons quickly identify your dog as needing space. As word gets out about the Yellow Dog Project, the public will understand that you are trying to prevent unwanted situations for your dog. By giving the dog space, others are helping you refocus the animal’s attention and reduces the animal’s psychological stress during health and behavior rehabilitation.

Never assume that everyone knows what a yellow ribbon means.

If your dog has a yellow ribbon and someone approaches your dog:

  • Simply redirect the dog by pulling gently on the leash and turning away from the approaching person until you are at a safe distance.
  • Educate the approaching person in a slow and quiet voice. A loud voice may startle the dog or others in the area, setting off an unwanted chain of events.
  • Explain that the yellow leash or ribbon means the dog needs space and that it is for everyone’s protection.
  • Never assume your cute, cuddly dog is friendly, especially if YOU had a reason for identifying the dog as needing space.

If you see a strange dog and there is a yellow ribbon attached:

  • Always ask the owner before reaching down to pet a dog.
  • Avoid direct eye contact with the dog, as they view this as a sign of aggression.
  • Position yourself lower, without losing your balance, to be the dog’s size.
  • Never move quickly or run toward the dog.

To learn more, check out the Yellow Dog Project or DINOS: Dogs in Need of Space.

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