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The meaning behind The Yellow Dog Project

Yellow ribbon/bandana on dog means don't touch, please

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Now that our well-deserved spring has finally sprung, more people are out enjoying the beautiful parks and paths in St. James and Charleswood.

Many are accompanied by canine companions, some of whom have yellow ribbons tied to their leashes.

The Yellow Dog Project is a campaign circulating on social media sites encouraging dog owners to use a yellow ribbon or bandana if they would prefer their dog not to be approached.

The idea is to provide a warning to give space to a dog who may be in training, injured, nervous, or generally unfriendly around other dogs.

The visual cue is meant as a flag that there is some reason not to come near, or to give the owner time to move the dog out of the way.  

At first glance, this seems like a good idea and I have been considering it for my boxer cross.

He’s a big pup whose enthusiasm is not always appreciated by people or other dogs. And he has a whip-like tail that could knock you down.

Some have argued that the yellow ribbon is akin to a "beware of dog" sign. The signal does not, they say, absolve owners of their responsibility to make sure their dog is under control at all times.

If the yellow ribbon is because the dog is recovering from an illness or injury, or in training, it is incumbent on the owner to ensure the dog is only exposed to environments it can handle.

This is a fair argument. The last thing anyone wants is an incident where someone, or some dog, gets hurt.

If you know you have an aggressive dog, or a one whose injury could be exacerbated by another’s boisterousness, you should think very carefully about when and where you walk your dog.

On the other hand, responsible dog owners and non-owners alike will ask before approaching any dog, and respect the response they get.

Because my dog can be skittish, I would prefer not to be approached when walking him. I will often cross the street to avoid having to manage his excitement at seeing another dog.

Although my dog does not really fit into any of the Yellow Ribbon categories, I use the yellow flag anyway.

When people ask about it, I explain the campaign. At the least, I hope it will save someone the heartache of a preventable incident.

Jennifer Dunsford is a community correspondent for St. James-Assiniboia.

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