Illustrated by Lili Chin.

Yellow Means Doggies Need Space

By Crystal A. Proxmire

Some dogs need their space. Whether it's because they are recovering from an injury, still in the stages of being trained, or simply not that social, some dogs are better left to themselves. That's why the Yellow Dog Project is promoting an idea worldwide to protect dogs and people from social misunderstandings.

The basic idea is that if dogs need space, their owner can tie a yellow ribbon on their leash so others can be aware. This can prevent dogs from panicking around other dogs or people. A yellow ribbon is not an admission of guilt, a waiver of responsibility, or a way for people to avoid properly training their animals. However it is a friendly notice to others.

It works because even though the yellow ribbon or yellow leash is not yet universally recognized, it is generally obvious enough to make people pause before approaching the animal. It can also prompt the question "what is that ribbon for," helping spreading the word.

The Yellow Dog Project also seeks to educate about appropriate ways to approach or make contact with a dog, stressing it should only happen with permission of the dog owner, whether or not a dog is a "yellow dog." They also offer links to training resources on their website.

Tara Palardy, a dog trainer in the city of Red Deer, in Alberta, Canada, started the Yellow Dog Project. In a statement to supporters she said, "I started to teach owners how to deal with their yellow dogs and that's where this whole thing started - locally. I had no idea thousands of people would join. I figured some friends, other trainers ... but nothing global. And surprise! Here we are."

The movement is still young, and has not yet taken root in Michigan. However, trainers, veterinarians, doggie daycares and even elected officials who get behind the movement can sign up to be listed on their website.

A second group that advocates for space and safe approach of all dogs is Dogs In Need Of Space (DINOS). Teaching adults and children to respect dogs can avoid a lot of misunderstandings and potential injuries.

The Yellow Dog Project can be found at, their Facebook social media page "The Yellow Dog Project," their Twitter account @yellowdogproj and by email at


April 2014

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