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


Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus4 months ago

Thank you for sharing.

Neville B.
Neville B.5 months ago

Simply brilliant!! Thanks for raising awareness of it! : )

In fact can we have this in with (or instead of) the high-viz 'Local or Organic' and 'Air-conditioning' house-plants re-runs please?

Neville B.
Neville B.5 months ago

Simply brilliant!! Thanks for raising awareness of it! : )

In fact can we have this in with (or instead of) the high-viz 'Local or Organic' and 'Air-conditioning' house-plants re-runs please?

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus6 months ago

Thank you for sharing.

Elaine W.
Past Member 6 months ago

I am adding yellow ribbons to my wardrobe for those days I am not in a good mood.

S Gardner
sandy Gardner6 months ago

We will see if it works in 3 weeks!

Fi T.
Fi T.6 months ago


Rachel Lynch
Rachel Lynch6 months ago

thanks for this! its a great way to let people know and provides space and comfort to those in need.

Teresa Antela
Teresa Antela6 months ago

Good idea!

Jan Ayton
Jan Ayton6 months ago

This is a nice, practical idea for a warning sign, but maybe it should be a yellow bandanna to make sure that it's visible from far away. As shown in the article, the key is for humans to see the yellow and think, "caution" before their dogs get too close.