How do you feel when you think of the color yellow? Warm like lying in the sun? Nervous at thought of a bumblebee? As the guardian of a deaf dog who is reactive to unexpected stimuli, the color yellow makes me feel comfort and relief!
I love my dog and she is a wonderful member of our family, but as her owner, I have to take special care for simple everyday outings. Here is a peek into our “going for a walk” routine: I begin by gathering very tiny, yummy treats to reward my dog during the walk for paying attention to me rather than to all the “scary” things in the world like joggers, bikers, friendly dogs and neighbors. With treats ready in my not-so-fancy treat pouch and with my dog wearing her Gentle Leader attached to a 6-foot leash, we are ready to go out the door. As soon as we step outside, I transform from owner/trainer to scout, always looking ahead and behind for dogs, people, joggers, bikers or anything else that could “pop out” and surprise us. I watch my dog like a hawk for any physical changes such as perked up ears or an intense stare that tells me she has spotted something. When I see that all too familiar stance, I quickly reach into my treat pouch to keep her distracted and calm, so she can politely and quietly walk on by.
In a perfect world she would politely ignore these triggers every time we went out on at walk and every time we encounter something “scary” in the world. Unfortunately, as hard as we try and as vigilant as we are, we can’t control everything, so we sometimes get a surprise visit from the kids at the park who see my very cute dog and run over to pet her or the person walking their very friendly dog who thinks that all dogs should say hello to one another.
It’s times like these that I wish there were a way to communicate to the world “my dog needs space.” And then, along came the answer to my wishes: The Yellow Dog Project.
The creators of this project know what it’s like to have a DINOS (Dog in Need of Space) and created a simple way to help dog owners like me identify that their dogs are uncomfortable around people and other dogs and in need of space to keep their cool and stay healthy and safe.
The Yellow Dog Project encourages pet guardians and dog walkers to put a yellow ribbon on their leash, as a visual cue to give that dog and human some much needed space. The Yellow Dog Project isn't just for dogs that would rather not have other canine friends, the yellow ribbon helps dogs who are hurt, scared, nervous, elderly or in training by immediately and easily identifying them to people passing by so they can keep their distance and give the Yellow Dog and his handler time to get out of the way when passing them in public.
As the guardian of a “reactive dog,” I understand that streets, paths and parks are public domain and promise to do my best to remain vigilant and keep other dogs and people safe. And thanks to The Yellow Dog Project, you can help too, by looking for my yellow ribbon when you are out with your dog or kids, taking a jog, or riding a bike and giving us a little extra space – both my dog and I will thank you!
Jackie Laubacher, CPDT-KA, is a behavior training specialist at the Richmond SPCA. To read the biographies of our regular bloggers, please click here. Before posting a comment, please review our comment guidelines. Please note that our comment policy requires a first and last name to be used as your screen name.