If You See A Yellow Ribbon Tied On A Dog’s Collar – Here’s What You Should Do
Have you, someone you know, or your child had an unfortunate encounter with a dog? Whether your child was disappointed that he or she was told not to pet a dog by its owner, or an attack almost took place, dog owners are beginning to use a symbol to show their dog should be approached with caution to minimize the possibility of undesired outcomes occurring. This symbol is a yellow ribbon, tied to a dog’s collar or leash.
The primary purpose of this movement is to educate the general public about dogs that need extra space and how to properly approach strange dogs in general. These dogs are not necessarily aggressive, in fact, many are not. These dogs could need space for any number of reasons.
Anxiety is a big one. Many dogs get anxious in new situations and just become downright afraid and uncomfortable – it’s cruel to knowingly inflict such stress on an animal. Worst case scenario, some dogs can react aggressively out of fear, as per their natural instincts. Yellow ribbons are becoming a way for dog owners to let people know their dog might be frightened by approaching strangers.
Perhaps the dog is too energetic, and might jump on or smother children or the elderly. This is another reason an owner might choose to warn people away.
If a dog has recently been through a medical procedure, is old, or has an ongoing medical problem, the owner might put on the ribbon. Again, this doesn’t mean the dog is aggressive or shy or even doesn’t want to play. A dog owner might choose to put the ribbon on for the dog’s own safety, and it might be a temporary measure.
And yes, a dog wearing a yellow ribbon might mean the dog typically reacts aggressively to humans or other dogs, and the owner is trying to warn you. It would be best to heed their warning.
So what should you do if you see a dog with a yellow ribbon on its collar or leash? Don’t take or allow your children or dogs near the strange dog. This seems like common sense advice for most dog owners, but many, many people do not particularly dog-savvy. Some people think it’s okay to run up to any dog and pet it; this can especially be a problem for children and parents who don’t teach them proper etiquette around a strange dog.
If you truly want to approach the dog, the next step should be asking the owner if it’s okay to approach. It’s also probably a good idea to acknowledge that you know what the yellow ribbon means so the dog owner does not get exasperated immediately. The owner can then explain why they’re using the ribbon. Perhaps they will even let you or your child approach the dog, after explaining how they would like you to do it.
Whatever you do, whether a dog is wearing a ribbon or not, do not approach a strange dog without asking permission from the owner first.
Putting a yellow ribbon on a dog’s collar or leash is not without risk to the owner and the dog. The risk of displaying these ribbons is becoming similar to “Beware of Dog” signs in legal settings, in that attorneys and juries are using them as proof that a dog owner knows his or her dog is dangerous, making it much easier to incriminate the owner and, in the worst case scenario, deem the dog dangerous and destroy it.
But the yellow ribbon movement is picking up stream around the globe, especially on social media sites like Facebook, and more people are beginning to use the ribbon or know what it means when they see it.
Whether or not there’s a yellow ribbon on a strange dog’s collar, it’s important to ask the owner before approaching the dog. If you see a dog with a yellow ribbon, remember what it means: that the dog just needs space. It’s best to respect that.