If Your Dog Needs Space, Tie A Yellow Ribbon Around His Leash

Christina Peden
by Christina Peden
Canadian dog trainer Tara Palardy is on a mission to help protect DINOS (dogs in need of extra space).

I don’t know about you, but I pretty much want to have a cuddle-fest with just about every dog that crosses my path. But as a dog owner, I know that this isn’t always the best thing to do.

My dog Matilda, a border collie-lab mix, is 8 months old now, so she isn’t a little munchkin anymore. But when she was, we couldn’t walk down the street without everyone wanting to pet her (which hey, I totally understand — puppies are cute as heck!). The problem was that she hadn’t yet learned that jumping on people wasn’t kosher, and many people don’t realize just how razor sharp puppy teeth are. One girl on the streetcar (who didn’t ask if it was okay to pet her) ended up with lovely puncture mark on the sleeve of her leather jacket because little Matilda thought it would make a fun chew toy.

What is the Yellow Dog Project?

Had I known about it then, dog trainer Tara Palardy’s Yellow Dog Project would have been a great tool to have in my back pocket.

The Yellow Dog Project was born out of the idea that some dogs need a little extra space. Maybe they’ve recently had surgery, or they’re a rescue with fear issues or are still in the process of learning obedience. Maybe they’re a service dog or in training to be one. Or maybe (like mine) they’re a jumpy puppy who needs a bit more training.

Whatever the circumstance, I’ll bet you wish there was an easy way to communicate this to other people! The Yellow Dog Project helps make that a reality.

All you have to do is tie something yellow to your dog’s leash, and just like that, you identify your pooch as a ‘Yellow Dog’. It can be a yellow ribbon, poop bag, bandana, you name it; the point is, it lets others know that they should ask your permission before approaching your dog.

What the Yellow Dog Program is NOT

While a yellow ribbon can be a great way to identify DINOS (dogs in need of space), Palardy is quick to point out what the project isn’t:

  • It’s not an excuse to avoid properly training your dog. It’s meant to signify that your dog is currently in training for their space issues, not that they are an overly aggressive dog.
  • It’s not an admittance of guilt. Just because a dog is wearing a yellow ribbon doesn’t mean that they’re vicious or have attacked someone. Don’t stereotype a Yellow Dog, and don’t be ashamed to identify your pup as a Yellow Dog if they need space.
  • It’s not a waiver of responsibility. If you know your dog has space issues, it’s up to you keep them out of stressful situations that might activate their fear. The yellow ribbon also won’t stop people from approaching your dog without permission — they may not know what the ribbon means.

How Can I Help?

Palardy introduced the project to 250 of her clients and friends in September 2012. Today, it has almost 100,000 Facebook fans and counting.

If you want to help get the word out, you can go to the organization’s website to donate or become a sponsor if you’re a pet service professional. All the proceeds go right back into the project. You can also print out copies of the project’s poster and stick them up around your neighborhood to help promote yellow ribbon awareness.

What do you think of the Yellow Dog Project? Would you use it for your pooch?

Christina Peden
Christina Peden

Christina Peden is a lifelong animal lover and avid wordsmith. She lives in Toronto with her boyfriend Ryan where they are proud pet parents to puppy, Matilda and cat, Oscar. In her spare time, she can be found enjoying Toronto, Canada's all-too-short patio season, taking advantage of the city's numerous parks or curled up with a good book.

More by Christina Peden