Quandary: Yellow ribbons on a dog aren’t just for decoration
January 2, 2016
What is the yellow dog project?
Well, first you get a bucket of paint and a schnauzer. Wait, no, that's not quite right — don't do that. This project is actually a global effort to help people know which pooches are for petting.
The end-goal for the Yellow Dog Project is that when people see a yellow ribbon tied to a dog's leash or collar they know not to approach the pup. Not every dog sporting a yellow ribbon has a rap sheet though, so don't judge a dog by his (ribbon) color.
A marked mutt might just be an overly-anxious puppy trying to learn some manners, or a service dog training for a life on the good side. Some yellow-ribbon sporting dogs are only skittish around other dogs, but do great with people. However, that extra bit of jewelry could mean Cujo tugs at the leash. Regardless of the reason, the owner of that particular beast has deemed it necessary to tack a ribbon on, so you should trust his/her judgement and cut the pooch a wide path, especially if your own furry friend is in tow.
The people who originally started the Yellow Dog Project wanted to make one thing very clear though: A yellow ribbon is not an excuse. If you happen to own Cujo, don't think that slapping a yellow ribbon on his leash (near the handle so you don't pull back a stump) means you don't have to train your dog. The yellow ribbon is meant as a method of communication, not as a solution for pending lawsuits — the judge won't assume Fluffy is rehabilitated because now people can tell from a distance that he'll bite your face off. If you can't seem to get your pup to tell the difference between "sit" and "attack without regard for self" it might be time to find your way into a trainer's office.
Now not all dogs, and not all owners, have heard of the Yellow Dog Project, so if you see a dog that's not wearing yellow, don't assume it's your new best friend. Your first course of action before envisioning yourself slow-motion running through the fields of snow next to this new pup should always be to talk to the owner: Ask them if it is OK to approach the pup. If they allow it, your next step is to watch the dog's behavior closely. Slowly approach the dog and when you get about ten feet away stop. Make sure that a wagging tail didn't suddenly turn under, and that the dog still seems friendly and excited to meet you. According to Pet Source, your next step is to get low and make a soft noise so the dog is aware of you and less intimidated. From here, it's completely up to the dog. Be a good human: Sit, stay and wait to see if the dog wants to say hi to you. If the dog chooses not to come up, you're out of luck. Don't push the dog by getting closer or trying to make yourself seem cooler — dogs can sense your desperation and it's about as attractive to them as it is to the person you've been trying to hook up with for six months. And in the end, you might get the cold shoulder from Fluffy as well, but at least you will still be able to count to ten using those fingers. For more information on what behaviors distinguish between a friendly, scared or aggressive dog visit http://www.petsource.org.
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Quandary, a wise old mountain goat, has been around Summit County for ages, and has the answers to any question about life, love and laws in the High Country. Have a question for Quandary? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
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