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September 21, 2013

Some of you may have heard of this already, but if you see a dog with a yellow ribbon on their leash, it means the dog needs his space and you should not approach him. A dog can need extra space for a variety of reasons. Perhaps he is shy, is frightened of certain people or young children, just had surgery, has a tendency to snap, is working on obedience, or has leash reactive issues.

Yellow Ribbon Infographic

I only just recently heard of using a yellow ribbon for such dogs and can’t believe I haven’t heard of it before. Most people who read my personal blog know that my dog Pierson has leash reactive issues. He does not do well when he sees other dogs. A yellow ribbon might be a useful tool if more people knew what it meant.

If I am walking Pierson and we come across someone else walking their dog, I cross the street and I divert his attention with the “look” command and a treat in hopes that he will learn to associate seeing the other dog with good stuff.

Pierson on Leash Look Command

I also take Pierson on group walks where everyone in the group has a dog with a similar problem and we have all agreed to certain rules regarding our dogs’ interactions. While we walk together as a group, we walk spaced apart to whatever our own dog’s threshold level is. In Pierson’s case, he has to be at the end of the line. At first he had to be several yards behind but over time he has been able to get within a few feet of the dog in front.

Pierson Group Dog Walk

Look how close Pierson is able to get to other dogs now that we’ve been working with this dog walking group.

But what about cases where another person still let’s their dog approach Pierson? This has happened to me a few times. In two of the situations, the other dogs were not on leashes. In one situation, the person did not understand why I was crossing the street away from her and her dog and she really wanted to meet Pierson.

If more people knew about the yellow ribbons, perhaps the yellow ribbon could have given them advance notice. Some people are concerned about the negative view a yellow caution ribbon might mean. But if we help people understand it could be for a variety of reasons, not just aggression, I think it is a good idea. What do you think?

Keep in mind, however, that the yellow ribbon should not be used as an excuse to not do proper training. Pierson’s issue is being worked with and it will be much easier for me to alleviate his leash reactive behavior if I have complete control over who does and who doesn’t approach him. Another thing the yellow ribbon should not be used for is as a waiver of liability. If Pierson has a yellow ribbon on his leash and he still ends up hurting another dog, I am still liable.

The top infographic was found on http://gulahund.se/. Incidentally, gulahund means yellow dog in Swedish.

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4 Responses to “Pet Safety Saturday – The Yellow Ribbon”

  1. Callie, Shadow, and Ducky's Mom:

    I agree with you 100%! The yellow ribbon on the dog’s leash is a good idea; and would be a GREAT idea if everyone knew what it meant AND respected a dog’s need for space. Unfortunately, not everyone is s going to be respectful — as you learned with the woman who could not take no for an answer — so, yellow ribbon or no, we have to accept the responsibility for our dogs’ actions.

  2. MayaAndPierson:

    Callie, Shadow, and Ducky’s Mom, Thanks for stopping by! 🙂 It will be difficult to get the word out to everybody so I am always cautious. (BTW, I saw your other comment where you thought your first one was wiped away. It wasn’t. It just went to moderation first. Sorry about that, the blog is supposed to tell you that the comment went to moderation.)

  3. Jodi:

    I’ve had Delilah react to dogs when she is on leash. Sometimes on our wood walks it cannot be avoided. If I see another dog charging at us, I will drop her leash. This works for Delilah because I think she feels trapped by the leash, usually within a minute I’m able to call her back to me and continue on our way.

    I am like you where I will cross the street and if I have to I have no problem saying, STAY AWAY FROM MY DOG. Why do you think Pierson reacts? Does he react when he is not on leash? Just curious.

    And yes, the yellow ribbon is awesome but as Sue pointed out, not all people will respect it, even when they know what it means.

  4. MayaAndPierson:

    Jodi, That’s awesome for Delilah. It’s so interesting how dropping the leash works. Pierson, however, will go after another dog whether on a leash or not. He has a very high prey drive and he’s protective. I think this is due to the insticts of his breed. Plus, I didn’t get him as a puppy so he probably didn’t have enough socialization when he was young. I still work with him on socialization, but without the early training it takes a long time.