By Kaileah Coulter
A few years ago I adopted a dog from the Humane Society. At the time she was a four month old heeler mix. We promptly got signed up for puppy classes in the following weeks. Like many heelers, she was a solitary dog that didn’t like to interact with other dogs much. At the dog park she would run around with a tennis ball in her mouth the whole time instead of interacting with other dogs. On one unfortunate day at the dog park, she was running around with a tennis ball when another dog tried to take it. The incident broke out in an all out dog fight leaving my dog with many puncture wounds and a split up her side.
From then on my puppy just could not get along with other dogs. She can be a bit leash aggressive and hates when other dogs come up to her. We have tried working with her with only little improvements so we just came to the realization that she needs to be separated from other dogs unless she has a muzzle on. We figured this would be best for all the dogs nearby her and better for herself also. Despite our efforts unleashed dogs have always been a problem for us. Many people just don’t understand the frustration with having dogs that may not be as friendly with other dogs.
A few months ago I ran across a posting online about an organization called The Yellow Dog Project. The organization is a movement for owners of dogs that might need a little space. Their efforts are to educate the public and dog owners to identify dogs that need space and to promote appropriate contact with dogs. Yellow dogs are not necessarily aggressive, but might have issues with fear, pain from recent surgery, be a rescue or shelter dog that has not had sufficient training or mastered obedience, or may be in training for work or service.
To identify these dogs they use yellow ribbons on their dog’s leashes or collars to indicate that they need space. I decided to utilize this for my own dog. By putting a yellow ribbon on her leash. While we walk, others may ask about it to learn what the ribbon means or if they already know, they may ask to approach my dog or they may avoid approaching her at all. It may take me some extra time to train my dog, but in the meantime maybe by placing a yellow ribbon on her leash we can save her from getting into dog fights and making things worse.