One of the things Cesar teaches about approaching a strange dog is “No talk, no touch, no eye contact.” This allows the dog to use its sense of smell to become used to us, and to decide whether to engage with a strange human.
It’s a good rule to follow, but not everyone knows it. In the case of a human-friendly, outgoing dog, the dog may make the decision to say hello before the human has had time to not talk, touch, or look. But what about dogs that should not be approached immediately?
In an ideal world, everyone would know “No talk, no touch, no eye contact.” However, the world is not ideal, and people do tend to approach strange dogs directly. In order to educate the public that not all dogs are ready for a friendly greeting, The Yellow Dog Project was started by Tara Palardy in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada, on September 13, 2012, inspired by the program started the previous June.
Described on their website as “a global movement for owners of dogs that need space,” the idea is to identify dogs that may have issues with being approached by attaching a highly visible yellow ribbon to their leash or collar.
“Yellow dogs” are described as needing space. They may not necessarily be, but often have issues. They may also be elderly or in pain from recent surgery, or shelter dogs who have not yet been completely socialized. The yellow ribbon can also be used on service dogs in training or working dogs, which should never be approached.
According to a press release, “The Yellow Dog Project seeks to educate appropriate ways to approach or make contact with a dog with permission of a dog owner only, whether or not a dog is a ‘yellow dog’. They also seek to promote the use of yellow ribbons to identify yellow dogs needing extra space.”
Starting locally in Canada, the project soon exploded, with followers worldwide. The original yellow dog poster has been translated into twenty languages. For more information, visit their website, above, or the Yellow Dog Project Facebook page.
And remember — you should never approach a strange dog, and never pet someone’s dog without the human’s permission, but you can help spread the word on the right way to meet a dog.