What to Do if You See a Yellow Ribbon on a Dog’s Leash

Editor’s note: This post is a Care2 favorite, back by popular demand. It was originally posted on October 9, 2012. Enjoy!

Anyone who has ever had a sick, unsocial or elderly dog is going to love The Yellow Dog Project, a global movement for parents of dogs that need space. The concept behind it is quite simple. If you see a dog with a yellow ribbon or other items tied to its leash, that signifies a dog who needs space and you should not attempt to pet the dog or bring your own dog over for a greeting. Now here’s an idea that’s long overdue.

The Yellow Dog Project has now made its mark in 45 countries and educational materials have been translated into 12 languages. Fans are calling it, “Brilliant” and “The best thing to happen since the invention of the leash!”

Recently, I was walking my two dogs on some trails behind the local elementary school. I go there because of the open fields and because few people come through the area in the evening. My dogs need space. I have an elderly Labrador with laryngeal paralysis (a condition which inhibits a dog’s ability to breath when he is warm or excited). It’s very important to keep him calm, and with my mid-sized terrier mix boinging alongside him, I already have my hands full in keeping the walks safe for both of them. But then along comes a man with absolutely no boundaries. As he made a bee-line for us I hollered out, “Please don’t bring your dog over.” His response was, “Don’t worry he’s friendly.” And with that he let go of his dog’s leash and says, “Go get em!”

Now here I am holding the hand of a small child and balancing two leashes in my hand, trying not to let the dogs tangle or to allow my elderly dog to get any sort of additional stimulation, and this dog comes at us like a bowling ball. As expected, it was a mess. My two dogs got tangled around one another.  My older dog felt threatened and the oncomer snapped at him. My daughter was frightened, and this guy just casually saunters over with no regard for the fall out. I had to ask him two more times to please move away with his dog before he finally understood. By that time, my elderly dog was gasping for air and I had to kneel on the ground with him for a full 15 minutes before he could recover.

These days we have a yellow bandana tied around both leashes and look forward to the day when this concept is widely embraced by the pet loving community. You can visit The Yellow Dog Project.

This news has been brought to you by The Great Animal Rescue Chase tournament of heroes.

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Photo Credit: The Yellow Dog Project


Evelyn M
Evelyn M16 days ago

This is a brilliant idea and long overdue! I hope it catches on quickly. I'm going to post it on my Facebook page and hope it gets shared often. Thanks for letting me know. My own dog, Lucy, who we adopted from our local shelter was never socialized as a pup so she does not do well with other dogs or strangers. For this reason, I don't like her being by strangers or pets. She also suffered unknown abuse so due to this, I believe it causes her more aggressive behavior near "some" men. I just haven't figured which type. I'm getting Lucy a yellow scarf for her leash!! Thank you.

Marie P
Marie P24 days ago


Toni W
Toni W25 days ago

Thank you.

Toni W
Toni W25 days ago

This is such a great idea!

Greta H
Greta H25 days ago

That's good. Thanks.

Jennifer Shaw
Jennifer Shaw25 days ago

I'd never heard of this but it's a great idea. Thanks for the information!

Mary F
Mary F25 days ago

I would never approach someone's dog, whether they wore a yellow ribbon or not! I hope the yellow ribbons don't attract curious little kids!

Lorraine Andersen

Great article to remind us, thanks for posting

Clare O
Clare O26 days ago


lori G
lori Gearhart27 days ago

great article, thanks .