Excerpts from an interview with "Dogs Life" magazine
How did you hear about The Yellow Dog Project?
I attended a Legacy Dog Training Camp in the USA in 1999. At her camp Terry Ryan used a yellow bandana on the dogs collar to indicate shy dogs so that the other trainers at the camp could give these dogs a little extra space.
How and why was it brought to Australia?
At the time I was staying with Terry I happened to have a shy dog so decided to bring the idea back to Australia. However apart from several dog clubs and a few people who had experienced the problem, the idea wasn't widely accepted. .
Over subsequent years in Australia the bandana changed to a yellow ribbon as this was cheaper and easier for people to source and the ribbon could be used either on the collar or tied to the lead to be more obvious.
In 2012 a group in Sweden heard about the yellow ribbon and its significance of being used for the management of sensitive dogs in Australia so wrote to a Dog Training Club in Tamworth who were using 'give me space' yellow ribbons. The Swedish group then adopted the idea starting a worldwide campaign to promote that a yellow ribbon indicated a dog who needed 'More Space Please'.
What types of dogs need to wear a yellow ribbon/leash/collar?
The Yellowdog Australia Project suggests a wide range of reasons behind why a dog might need to wear a yellow ribbon, leash, vest, bandana or any yellow item attached to a leash, collar or harness. It is to communicate that this dog needs some space and please do not approach this dog with your dog. Also it signals to maintain a distance or allow time for this dog with his/her person to move out of the way.
Wearing the yellow indicator does not mean these dogs are “bad”, rather that they do better with space for a whole variety of reasons that may not be related to their temperament or approachability in itself. Here are some of the reasons behind why a dog might be participating in the Yellow Ribbon project.
• Illness or recovering from surgery
• Deaf or Blind
• Newly adopted
• Leash reactivity
• Injuries or painful physical conditions like arthritis
• Intolerance of other animals
• Fearful of unfamiliar people
• Fearful of unfamiliar or rowdy dogs
• Aging and elderly
• Learning self control around other dogs
• Shyness of people
Whatever the reason, it is always good to give an oncoming dog and their family space but please note: The Australian Project is NOT suitable for dogs with a bite history, if your dog has behavioural or aggression problems it is recommended that you contact a qualified ethical force free Dog Trainer or your Veterinarian for assessment and referral to a Veterinary Behaviourist if appropriate.
Pat Robards and Steph McColl