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.
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.
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.
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.