What you need to know about dogs who wear a yellow ribbon
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What you need to know about dogs who wear a yellow ribbon

Dogs
Health & Safety

If you’ve ever spotted a dog out and about wearing a yellow ribbon or bandana on their collar or lead, this is much more than just a dapper fashion statement – the yellow ribbon is designed to allow other dog owners to recognise when another dog needs a little more space than normal, and to keep their own dogs in check.

This entirely voluntary system is becoming ever-more widespread across the country, and helps to make life a lot easier for the owners of dogs who like to be given plenty of room, or that otherwise should not be approached – but there are a still a reasonable number of dog owners who are not aware of the meaning of the ribbon.

If you’ve spotted a dog out and about wearing a yellow ribbon and want to find out more about what this means, or are interested in learning whether or not using a yellow ribbon on your own dog might be appropriate, we will explain everything you need to know in this article.

Read on to find out what you need to know about dogs who wear a yellow ribbon.

The Yellow Dog Project

The use of the yellow ribbon began from The Yellow Dog Project, which is a registered charity designed to raise awareness about dogs that need a little space when out in public. When other dog owners spot and understand the meaning of a dog wearing a yellow ribbon or bandana, it gives them the opportunity to keep their own dog in check and stop them from making an approach, and to give the dog in question space when passing them.

There are a whole host of different reasons why a dog owner might decide that their dog needs some space, which we will cover in more detail later on – but if you spot a dog wearing yellow accessories, the best approach is to keep your own dog near to you, and not to approach the dog directly either with your dog or on your own.

This helps to make life easier for other dog owners, as well as yourself and your own dog.

Why do some dogs wear yellow ribbons or bandanas?

Pretty much every dog owner has faced an issue with their dog at some point that could benefit from a little space between them and other dogs or people, and the yellow ribbon or bandana can be used in a wide range of different situations, as either a short term or long term approach to requesting a little space.

The ribbon doesn’t guarantee that other dog owners will appreciate its meaning or stay back, but it does give well informed dog owners some insights, and so, the more people that are aware of the project, the better for all concerned.

Some of the great many reasons why another dog might be wearing a yellow ribbon or bandana include:

  • A dog that is ill or suffering from health issues that may be defensive about the approach of another dog, or who may get hurt or have their recovery compromised by contact with another dog. This might be because the dog has recently had surgery, is healing from an injury, is ill, suffers from a chronic condition like arthritis, or that is vulnerable to catching an illness from contact with another dog.
  • A dog that is blind or deaf or otherwise likely to be surprised and alarmed by a sudden approach from another dog.
  • A shy, nervous or anxious dog that is being retrained and socialised in a controlled manner, and that may be frightened by or respond badly to normal canine behaviour and communication.
  • A rescued dog or one that is undergoing assessment with a view to rehoming, whose responses to other dogs may be unpredictable or have yet to be determined.
  • A dog that has previously been hurt or scared by another dog and who is alarmed by the presence of strange dogs and that doesn’t want to greet newcomers.
  • An unneutered female dog that is in season, which needs to be kept away from strange dogs to reduce the risk of a mis-mating.
  • A dog that is being trained or working may have a yellow ribbon or bandana to request that other dogs steer clear to avoid breaking their concentration.
  • A dog that is unpredictable or potentially likely to display defensive aggression to another dog or person if approached. This is what many people automatically assume when they see a dog with a yellow ribbon or bandana – but for the majority of the dogs that wear yellow, this is not the case, and use of the ribbon in such a situation is a short-term aid to resolving the problem properly, and should be accompanied by the use of proper control and potentially a muzzle as well.

What to do if you spot a dog with a yellow ribbon or bandana

First of all, if you spot a yellow ribbon or bandana on another dog, recall your own dog to you and put them on the lead so that you can control their movements. Try to keep yourself and your dog at a distance from the other party, and if you need to pass the other dog at close quarters – such as on a pavement or within a narrow space, communicate with the other dog’s owner if possible, and follow their lead.

As well as keeping your own dog at a distance, you shouldn’t try to touch the other dog or get into their personal space yourself either, unless you have spoken to the owner and they give you the ok. Some dog wearing yellow ribbons may still be able to greet and interact with other dogs or people – but always take your cues from the dog’s owner, and don’t think that simply because your own dog is sociable and friendly, it will be ok.

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