For most Cuteness readers, when we see a stranger we'll ask, "Can I pet your dog?" before we say, "Hello." And, if we're being completely honest, intense dog lovers (like this writer) will say this phrase while reaching to pet the dog. The question is really a formality, imagine seeing a dog and not petting it?! Of course, this mentality is not only rude but potentially dangerous for both the petter and the dog.
What You Need To Know About Dogs Who Wear Yellow
That's why the good folks at the Yellow Dog Project came up with a plan to encourage well intentioned but overbearing dog-petters to pause before bombarding in on a dog's space.
Laura Palardy is the creator behind Yellow Dog Project, which uses yellow ribbons, leashes, and handkerchiefs to inform potential petters that the dog needs space. The goal is to spread awareness about animals who have either experienced trauma, are recovering from injury or surgery, or who may be frightened by human contact.
Often the petter doesn't fully consider why the dog needs space, Yellow Dog Project (which is a non-profit organization) helps to educate and prevent further trauma. If a pup doesn't want to interact with a stranger, that rarely means he's a "bad dog," there's likely a reason/history for why they need space. It can be a challenge for dog owners to provide an explanation in time, "he's-had-a-rough-past-and-has-a-legitimate-fear-of-strangers-petting-triggers-him." Tying the yellow ribbon on their leash or on the collar is a concise way to indicate that the dog isn't immediately friendly.
You may have already known about this, if so, kudos! Great job having your thumb on the pulse of the dog petting scene. If you're just now hearing about this, great, now you know! If you see a yellow leash, a ribbon, or even a scarf, you have a few choices. You can smile and move along, or ask from a distance. The owner might be happy to share the dog's history, but be respectful. This will avoid the embarrassing exchange on both sides about something either of you didn't plan for.
Here's to creating a happy safe environment for dogs and dog-petters one yellow ribbon at a time.