If you follow any dog-related companies or shelter/rescue groups on social media (you are following AnimalSense, right?), you’ve probably heard the recent chatter about what’s being called “The Yellow Dog Project”. According to their website, The Yellow Dog Project is a global movement for parents of dogs that need space (a.k.a DINOS or Dogs In Need Of Space). Dogs can need space for many reasons: health issues, they are currently in training, being rehabilitated or are scared or reactive around other dogs.
The Yellow Dog Project is hoping through social media, physical awareness, as well as educational courses for kids and parents, that the ribbon will remind people to ask before petting a dog.
To me, that’s common sense. No dog, no matter how friendly they appear, should be approached and attempted to be touched (especially by children) without first getting the okay by the pet parent. But working with people and dogs has taught me not to place too must trust in what people know (or think they know) about dogs. Everyone may think their dog is friendly, but I’ve seen enough altercations on the streets and in dog parks of Chicago to know this is not true. How many times have you heard “He just wants to say hi” and the dog is pulling the owner down the street toward you while barking with his hackles raised? If you want to read a funny and informative article on dog greetings, check out revered dog trainer Suzanne Clothier’s piece about those dogs who “just want to say hi”. It’s lengthy, but be sure to get to the Do’s and Don’ts at the end.
So, if putting a ribbon on a leash makes people more aware of dog behavior and communication, I’m all for it. However, some people say the ribbon is labeling dogs and that by broadcasting the fact your dog may have issues, you are actually putting yourself in a possible legal situation should your dog act on its impulse to bark, lunge or even worse, bite someone.
What do you think about The Yellow Dog Project? Is it a brilliant idea or the “scarlet letter” for dogs?