Humans come with plenty of different personalities and preferences. They may be friendly or stand-offish, high-energy or anxious about social interaction. The thing is, people can express rather clearly whether or not they want to have a conversation with you. But dogs don’t have the same tools to communicate their discomfort.
The Yellow Dog Project is here to help our furry friends.
Because, like people, there are pups who love to play and interact. But there are reactive dogs who may not know how to let another puppy or dog owner know that they don’t care to engage. In fact, engagement might even cause them stress or lead them to act aggressively.
The Yellow Dog Project is here to help your pooch avoid frustrating moments. What is the Yellow Dog Project all about? Read here for more information and to determine if you should tie a yellow ribbon on your dog when in public.
Dogs In Need Of Space: Always Keep Your Dog On A Leash In Public
Dogs are always a conversation starter. People love to interact with dog lovers. But there are some dogs that would prefer some space from other dog walkers and off-leash animals.
The Yellow Dog Project is an international movement for dog owners whose dogs need space. These particular pups are called DINOS (the word is short for Dogs In Need Of Space). And if you scour the internet and veterinary websites, you can find many an article written about the Yellow Dog Project. There’s a lot about the YDP on social media, too.
There are truly great dogs out there who need protection from socialization. There are various reasons space could help keep these (and other) dogs safe. Because you don’t know exactly how your dog (or another person’s dog) might react, it’s important to keep your dog on a leash.
The Yellow Dog Project is a way to identify dogs who may be reactive. Tie a yellow ribbon on the collar of your dog to let other owners know to keep their dogs close and on the leash.
This allows the other dog owners to give the Yellow Dog Project pooch space to move on uninterrupted. The project also focuses on ways to educate dog owners about proper greetings for their dogs.1
Dog Behavior And Reasons For The Yellow Ribbon: Training And/Or Reactive Dogs
There are many reasons why a dog may prefer to have their space rather than interact. This might be common among dogs that are:
- A shelter dog or new adoptee
- In training
- Recovering from surgery
- Experiencing anxiety
- A puppy
- A recent rescue
- Very old
The Yellow Dog Project asks Yellow Dog owners to attach yellow ribbons to their pups’ leashes. So, if you’re walking your dog and you notice a dog wearing a yellow ribbon, be nice and ignore the dog. Give the dog (and its owner) some space.
Is Your Dog Experiencing Fear Or Anxiety? Consult Your Pets Veterinarian As Soon As Possible
Dogs can experience various types of fear or anxiety. Anxiety is a common response among dogs to fear and frustration. If your dog senses a threat or fearful situation, they may become aggressive. An off-leash dog might cause an anxious dog to become reactive and aggressive.
Now, if your pooch has anxiety, you might notice the following behaviors:
- Excessive yawning
- Tucked tail
- Gazing away
- Drooped ears
- Lowered body language
- Obsessive licking3
If your dog exhibits these behaviors regularly, take them to the veterinarian immediately.
Avoidance is one strategy to alleviate anxiety. Some dogs use aggression to remove the stimulus. When the other dog backs off, the anxious dog feels successful.
This is one reason the Yellow Dog Project is a great idea. It lets others know your pet may be dealing with stress or phobia.
If the stressor leaves the situation, your dog doesn’t have to get aggressive in the first place.
What Things Might Cause Your Dog Anxiety?
Your dog may simply be afraid when they see unfamiliar dogs. Your pup might also steer clear of unfamiliar people. If the people look or smell different than the people in your dog’s home, they could seem threatening. For instance, if a dog lives alone with an adult family, young children may threaten the dog’s sense of security.
Loud or constant noises can also cause your pooch unrest. Large objects, like vacuums or umbrellas, might frighten your dog, too. So, be sensitive. It’s okay to crate your pet or put them in a remote room as you vacuum. Time on their own might be just the thing they’re needing.
If your dog acts aggressive on a walk, it is likely trying to create distance. Dogs do this so the dog (or person) that makes them feel threatened will not approach.4
Positive Reinforcement And Eye Contact
Now, it is possible to help your puppy overcome anxiety with counterconditioning.
Counterconditioning uses positive reinforcement. This method can help change your dog’s reaction to stressful stimuli. You’re essentially replacing the anxious behavior with better behavior. For instance, you can direct your dog’s attention to you instead of the stimuli.
Take time when introducing your dog to the source of their anxiety. Repeated exposure will help.
If a large, threatening dog approaches, try and get your dog to make eye contact with you. Then reward that positive behavior. Make sure to give your pup some downtime as training recovery.5 In time, your dog will learn to make eye contact with you instead of engaging with the source of anxiety.
This process can be challenging, but it’s worth working through it. You might need to have a consultation with a professional dog trainer for help. You can teach a dog to change some of their behaviors — it just takes patience and time.
The Great Idea Behind The Yellow Dog Project
If DINOS are easily identified, you can avoid a surprise unplanned interaction. It can be stressful for dog owners to take their DINOS out and about, but the Yellow Dog Project might help.
Does this sound like your experiences with your dog? Go ahead: tie a yellow ribbon ‘round your pooch’s collar, and walk with a little more comfort and ease.
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