Yellow has become the color associated with caution. When you are driving, the yellow light means "watch out" as the lights are just about to change. Safety wear is often yellow. Now, the Yellow Dog Project, an initiative that is spreading worldwide, seeks to use yellow to make people aware that they need to be cautious around some dogs.
These dogs targeted are not necessarily unfriendly; they may be recovering from surgery or injury, be undergoing specific retraining or they might just be nervous around unfamiliar people or dogs. They may be service dogs that are on the job and need to avoid distraction. Pet parents of such dogs put a yellow ribbon on their leash or collar to indicate to others that their dog prefers to be left alone.
Before the Yellow Dog Project started, there was no way for dog people to let others know that their pet did not want attention. Even if they could yell out to stay away, they often felt uncomfortable and awkward about doing so. The result was that people would approach dogs, they would let their own pets sniff and crowd them, and potentially cause physical and emotional harm.
Here’s a real-life example. Kristel Smart from Vermont relied heavily on her service dog Murphy to allow her to live a normal life. One day, an off-leash dog attacked Murphy. After his injury, he became very reactive to other dogs. Any approach by an unfamiliar animal caused him such anxiety his rehabilitation was set back significantly. A yellow ribbon on his collar and a wider awareness of what it meant would have made Murphy’s retraining much easier.
One area in which the yellow ribbon can be very useful is in the case of children. A significant percentage of dog bites occur in children under fourteen years of age. A yellow ribbon may help to reduce the risk because it is usually easy to see. Children can be taught that if they see the ribbon, it means they should leave the dog alone.
Some disagree with the idea of the Yellow Dog Project. One perceived issue is that the wearing of a yellow ribbon to deflect attention from an aggressive dog indicates that the pet parent knows that their dog is aggressive and this may increase liability should there be an incident. Another suggestion is that dogs that have issues such as anxiety or that are recovering from illness are better off kept at home until they are better able to interact.
In an ideal world, a person or their pet would not approach any dog unless their pet parent had okayed the interaction, but that is not happening. This is where the yellow ribbon can make a difference; it is an obvious sign to everyone that a dog needs space. The biggest problem with the project is that not enough people are aware about it. It can really only make a difference if the information is spread widely and the community understands the meaning behind the yellow ribbon on a dog’s collar.
For more information, or to support the cause visit here.