When we see someone walking an adorable dog, our natural instinct is to pet the dog or to let our pooch—if we’re out for a walk together—play with the other dog. But the next time you see a dog being walked, take a look at the dog’s leash or collar before you make your move. Do you see a yellow ribbon? If you do, it’s not an ornament or fashion statement. It’s a message that says, "My dog needs some space. Please do not pet him/her or let your dog come too close."
The story behind the yellow ribbon
This clever idea is the brainchild of the The Yellow Dog Project, a movement that’s international in scope. Their mission is to "…educate the public and dog owners to identify dogs needing space, promote appropriate contact of dogs and assist dog parents to identify their dog as needing space."
Like many good ideas, it seems so simple—and necessary—you wonder why someone didn’t think of it sooner.
Why some dogs are "yellow dogs"
We like to think that all dogs are eager, social critters that can’t wait to be petted by strangers and have their butt sniffed by another dog. However, there are some dogs that don’t fall into that category for one (or several) reasons. These include:
- Dogs that are recovering from an illness or medical procedure.
- Dogs with behavioral/socialization problems. (Newly adopted dogs that may have been abused by previous owners fall into this category.)
- Senior dogs that no longer feel like playing with every person who sees them.
Color speaks louder than words
In the crowded and hectic social space we often find ourselves in with our dogs, there isn’t always time to tell everyone you meet, "Please don’t pet my dog or let your dog play with him/her." Under those conditions, a simple yellow ribbon is an eloquent visual message.
The folks behind The Yellow Dog Project also see this movement as a way for dog owners to avoid feeling embarrassed or ashamed of their dog’s behavior. They are quick to point out that, "Wearing a yellow ribbon is NOT an admission of guilt. Wearing a ribbon identifies that you have a dog in training for their space troubles and you are taking responsibility for your pets actions."
Could this be the start of something even bigger?
Once The Yellow Ribbon Project gets more traction with the public, we wonder if ribbons of other colors can be used to communicate a variety of messages about our dogs. For example:
- Green ribbon: Go ahead and pet my friendly dog. He loves it! But be prepared to get a loving lick!
- Team colors: My dog is a huge fan of our local team. He does a happy dance every time they score!
- Red, white, and blue ribbon: Worn on the Fourth of July, this means my dog is a patriotic pooch!