Have you ever noticed a yellow ribbon on the leash or collar of a dog? Do you know what it means? As a caring canine, I think it’s time for everyone learns about what it means (and doesn’t mean) to be a yellow ribbon dog.
So, do you have any guesses about why some dogs wear yellow ribbons? If you are guessing that the ribbon is not a fashion statement, you’d be correct! Don’t feel bad if you got this wrong. I actually thought a yellow ribbon was a new trend that fashionista dogs all over the world were wearing. I almost asked my parents to get me a yellow ribbon tie! But now, I’m grateful to know what it really means. Dogs who wear yellow ribbons are trying to get a message across to the humans around them. I might not need to wear a yellow ribbon, but I can help spread the message.
A yellow ribbon means that the dog wearing it needs some space.
It may be best to leave the dog alone, but if you do need to approach for any reason, proceed with caution, and give the dog all the space he is politely requesting.
Are you wondering why some dogs need space while other dogs don’t? There are so many reasons! Just because there’s a yellow ribbon on a dog’s leash, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the dog is violent. Here are some possibilities the yellow ribbon represents:
- A yellow ribbon could mean that the dog has health issues and shouldn’t be too active. Children in particular have a great energy that dogs can feel. If we notice that humans are excited to meet us, we get very excited, as well! After a dog has a procedure done, his veterinarian might want him to relax and heal. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t need to use the bathroom every once in a while! The dog’s owner might need to leash him and lead him to his favorite potty spot. If this yellow ribbon dog is approached by overly excited children or adults, he might begin to jump or run, causing stitches to break or bones to not heal properly. Ask the dog’s owner if it would be okay to introduce yourself, and if you do so, make sure to do it as calmly and softly as possible.
- A yellow ribbon could mean the dog is in the middle of training, and the owner would like the puppy to remain undisturbed at the moment. Do you remember what it was like to train your puppy? I’ll bet you put a lot of effort into the training, and you tried to remain consistent at all times. Those are the best conditions for training your new dog. It’s so wonderful if you love to meet dogs. We love to meet humans! Just keep in mind that the dog you’re trying to befriend could be in the middle of a training. If you’re desperate to be introduced, address the dog’s handler from a distance and with a calm voice. Ask her if you could greet the dog. If she agrees, do so very calmly. If she doesn’t agree, respect her decision and befriend another puppy.
- A yellow ribbon could mean that the dog is a rescue dog who’s very fearful of new humans. You can never quite tell what a dog you don’t know has experienced. Yes, they might look cute and cuddly, but they might have come from an abusive household or have lived on the streets or have been starved for food. Kudos to all of the patient, loving pet-parents who have adopted rescue dogs. They are wonderful animals who need a forever home. If a yellow ribbon dog is of the fearful variety, you might terrify her with your approach. She may act out or possibly have an accident. It’s likely her pet parent is trying to train her and slowly socialize her. As usual, my advice would be to speak calmly to her human from a distance before slowly approaching.
- Having said all of this, the yellow ribbon could mean that the dog is in fact aggressive. Not all dogs are interested in socializing with other dogs or new humans. This doesn’t mean that they’re bad dogs. They may be wonderful pets and love and respect their human family very much. They may just simply not like new people or pets. Be respectful of this and don’t force yourself into a dog’s life.
The Bottom Line: You can never know a dog’s history just by glancing at him. If you notice a yellow ribbon on a dog’s leash, give the pup some space. From a distance, calmly ask the owner if you can approach, and do so slowly and quietly. Always be respectful if the human requests some space. To learn more about yellow ribbon dogs, check out The Yellow Dog Project today.
Do you know any yellow ribbon dogs? What was your experience like approaching them?
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