What To Do When You See a Dog With a Yellow Ribbon and Why These Pups are Wearing Them

Do you know what a yellow ribbon on a dog or dog’s leash means?

It means this dog needs some space. Just like an amber traffic light, a yellow ribbon is a signal to proceed with caution.

It’s to help people, especially children, easily identify that the dog needs to be approached slowly and that interactions between you or your dog should be discussed with the dog’s handler beforehand.

The yellow ribbon is not necessarily a signal that the dog is aggressive. There are several of reasons why a dog’s guardian will use a yellow ribbon.

It could be:

  • The dog has health issues
  • The dog is in training
  • The dog is being rehabilitated/learning to socialize
  • The dog is scared or reactive around other dogs

The yellow ribbon is an initiative established by The Yellow Dog Project. “Yellow Dogs are dogs who need space,” they explain. “They are not necessarily aggressive dogs but more often are dogs who have issues of fear; pain from recent surgery; are a rescue or shelter dog who has not yet had sufficient training or mastered obedience; are in training for work or service; are in service; or other reasons specific to the dog.”

The Yellow Dog Project is the brainchild of Tara Palardy, a dog trainer and owner of a dog day care in Canada. Tara is a strong proponent of positive reinforcement training and said she would like to see the yellow ribbon initiative adopted worldwide (it’s spread to 45 countries already!)

Supporters are quick to point out that The Yellow Dog Project (TYDP) is not an excuse to avoid proper training and the responsibilities of dog ownership. They state:

  • TYDP is NOT an excuse to avoid proper training
  • TYDP is NOT an admittance of guilt or a confession regarding a dog’s behavior
  • TYDP is NOT a waiver of responsibility

The yellow ribbon is a quick way to communicate the comfort level of a dog and avoid causing unnecessary panic or stress in a dog that can result in unexpected and unpleasant outcomes for everyone involved.

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