Spring is in the air and dog walkers are appearing where previously there were none. The local walking areas are packed full with new faces and it’s a far cry from those icy walks experienced a few months back, in the dark middle of winter. There are some dog owners, along with their dogs, that dread the influx of forced social contact though – the fearful ones.
When the sun comes out we love it, don’t we? The happy warm yellow glow in the sky, yet there is a new kind of yellow, painting the dog walks of some and it’s a yellow that all dog owners need to know about.
The yellow dog initiative is to help scared dogs to cope in public areas. In the form of collars, leashes, bandannas and jackets, a canine wearing yellow means that the dog is worried.
Yellow – That Dog Needs Space
When a worried dog is approached by another, even a friendly canine, a process of fear begins within the body of the worried animal. Adrenaline rushes into the dog’s system and the dog will reach a high level of stress. This stress reaction will lead to a certain type of behaviour, it will usually be extreme fear or defensive aggression.
Dog’s feel fear for a number of reasons. Whether they are rescued and learned fear, were poorly socialised or have been attacked in the past, a scared dog is a stressed dog. Dogs can also feel very nervous after surgery, during rehabilitation, and even just throughout training. Old, arthritic and shy dogs can be naturally worried little souls too, we just need to remember to give them time and space.
Put yourself in the dog’s place for a moment. Imagine that you have a fear of something. Let’s say you have a fear of dogs and your heart races even when you see one in the distance. Now imagine being tied to someone with no escape and dogs come rushing up to you. How do you think you would feel?
You may live with the friendliest, kindest dog in the world but if he or she runs up to a scared dog this is threatening behaviour. Maybe not from your dog but certainly towards the welfare of the worried one.
Scared Dog Ownership
The owner of a fearful dog has a big task, they need to get their dog walked and yet are constantly on edge because they have no idea when a dog is going to come running towards their frightened friend. They keep their dog on the leash and under their control yet other dogs still approach because the owners of other dogs believe that their friendly pet does no harm.
Which is exactly why scared dogs are beginning to wear yellow. Yellow means that the dog needs space; that your own dog should be under close control and certainly not be allowed to approach. Yellow is a reminder to respect the space of all dogs, make sure to maintain plenty of space and control when passing others to ensure everyone can have the most enjoyable walk possible, and give each other time to move out of the way and carry on. The same goes for dogs who aren't wearing yellow - not everyone knows about the yellow ribbons yet! But make sure to tell your friends so we can spread the word.
If you do see a dog wearing yellow, now you know what to do, give the dog space and call your own canine friend back to make sure he does the same.
Check out Yellow Dog UK where you can find some yellow lead covers, bandanas and even some ribbons to tie on your dog’s lead so you can spread the word and people can identify that your dog needs space.