The Yellow Dog Project


yellow hydrantThis week, I wanted to bring light to a Canadian-born program that has been circulating around the world.  All you invested canine caregivers out there understand the importance of regular socialization for our dogs’ well being (not to mention just plain getting out into the world!). This should be a universal right, and can be, with the proper precautions.

The Yellow Dog Project started as a simple method for caregivers that feel like their dogs “need space” to still get out and be part of the community.  By tying a visible yellow ribbon onto their leash, the pair is able to visually signal to other caregivers that Fido is in training and should be not approached without permission. Please keep in mind that the signal “do not approach” should not be interpreted as a universal sign that all yellow ribbon dogs are aggressive.  In fact, the YDP webpage provides an outline of what a yellow dog is and is not:

“Yellow Dogs are dogs who need space – they are not necessarily aggressive dogs but more often are dogs who have issues of fear; pain from recent surgery; are a rescue or shelter dog who has not yet had sufficient training or mastered obedience; are in training for work or service; are in service; or   other reasons specific to the dog.” (TheYellowDogProject, 2014).

While the yellow ribbon is great high-visibility marker, it also represents a deeper meaning.  Supporting the efforts of the Yellow Dog Program means supporting the belief that positive, well-balanced social experiences are important for all canines, no matter their background or issues.  It also supports a key concept that those training in the service industry know well: Canines and canine personalities are not created equal and should not be treated as such.  Even within a single litter, variation in behaviours, traits and likes/dislikes occurs regularly.  This isn’t to say that those canines who are not “perfect” can never be “great dogs,” it’s that not all medical students become doctors. Each canine’s strengths and weaknesses need to be integrated in their training program in order to create a positive environment, full of success stories.

If you are unsure if your canine(s) could be in a Yellow Dog phase, enlist the help of your local “positive reinforcement” behavioral consultant for additional assistance.  And, the next time you see a canine with a yellow ribbon, don’t be afraid. Instead, smile and know that his/her caregivers have taken POSITIVE steps to understand the details of their canine’s behaviour and are working towards a POSITIVELY social future!!

Just curious: Have any of you heard of this program before? Or utilized a yellow ribbon to help with your dog’s training?

The Yellow Dog Project. (2014).  About.  Retrieved from:  Accessed on: March 30, 2014.