The Yellow Dog Project: How to tell others your dog needs space

New ideas in dog etiquette Photo: Emma

WASHINGTON, DC, May 3, 2013- The Yellow Dog Project recommends tying a yellow ribbon or other visible yellow item on the leash or collar of you dog to signal to other dog owners and the general public that your dog needs space. 

In some cities and neighborhoods, it seems like most people have a dog, and while most city dogs are well socialized, some dogs require a little space when on their walks.  The problem is that it may be difficult to spot these dogs at a glance.  Enter The Yellow Dog Project, a simple idea that may turn out to be a brilliant step forward in doggie etiquette.   

It is important to know that not all dogs wearing a yellow ribbon are aggressive.

Dogs need space for a variety of reasons including recovering from surgery, undergoing training, being rehabilitated, and because they are nervous around other dogs or people.

The Yellow Dog Project website recommends that if you see a dog with a yellow ribbon on its leash, do not approach this dog with your own dog, maintain a safe distance, or give the dog and owner a chance to move out of your way. 

Started in June of 2012 by Tara Palardy, a dog trainer from Alberta, Canada, the Yellow Dog Project was inspired by a Swedish website.  The Project’s FaceBook page has already attracted over 21,000 followers from around the world and has spread to over 47 countries.  

I was personally thrilled to learn about the Project.  My little dog Emma (above) is a joy, but suffers from a bit of a Napoleon complex and loves to throw her weight around—all nine pounds of it—when we go for a walk.  It has created some really awkward situations, and sometimes it is just tiring and uncomfortable to tell everyone that your dog is not friendly. 

While most dog owners understand, a small minority will give you dirty looks that say, “how dare your dog bark at mine?” or “you must be a horrible person.”  We have tried everything from training to muzzles to squirt guns with water to an aerosol pet deterrent that emits a strange noise that annoys not only your dog but every dog within a 50 ft. radius.  While she has gotten a little better, nothing seems to work so I’m willing to give this a try. 

While a fantastic initiative, Claudia Kawczynska of The Bark magazine says the idea will have a hard time catching on, especially in larger communities. “It’s expecting a lot out of people,” says Kawczynska. 

Even though it is still in its infancy, this may be a worthy cause to share with friends and other pet owners.


READ MORE: A World in Our Backyard by Laura Sesana

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Laura Sesana

Laura Sesana is a writer and DC, Maryland attorney, joining the Communities in 2012.  She is the author of Colombia: Natural Parks, and has also written several articles on literary criticism.  She writes about food, health, nutrition, women’s legal issues, and the environment.  

In addition to writing for the Communities, Laura also works as an attorney and legal content writer.


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