Whenever you see something cute, whatever that might be, the first instinct is to interact. Whether you want to reach out and touch it or go "Awwwww," that thing now has your attention. But sometimes it's important to pay attention to any warning signs that it isn't safe or inappropriate to interact just yet. For instance, seeing an adorable dog who happens to be walking with their owner in your direction. The friendly or neighborly thing to do is to comment and maybe even reach out to pet them. But if that a dog is wearing a yellow ribbon, you might want to give them some space.
Thanks to Laura Palardy from Alberta, Canada, who started the Yellow Dog Project, now you have a clear sign to look out for before you decide to reach out. The Yellow Dog Project is a non-profit with a mission to help DINOS, or dogs who need space. The goal is to spread awareness about animals who have either experienced trauma, are recovering from injury and/or surgery, or may be frightened by human contact. The non-profit also donates the money fundraised or donated to provide materials such as ribbon and t-shirts to rally around the cause, but also encourages owners to assist those dogs wearing yellow ribbons.
It may not always be that the dog that doesn't want to interact with a stranger is a "bad dog." Sometimes, just like humans, they need their space, and the Yellow Dog Project wants to teach more people about that. Instead of having to awkwardly explain why your dog shouldn't be petted or touched, tying the yellow ribbon on their leash on the collar can get the message across. So if you see a yellow leash, a ribbon, or even a scarf, it's always the best decision to ask first. Who knows, the owner might be happy to share why it might not be the best decision. And you can avoid the embarrassing exchange on both sides about something either of you didn't plan for.
And finally, it just isn't smart to pet animals you don't know. It's tempting, yes, but it can be dangerous or a traumatic experience for the animal. Yellow Dog Project asks for caution on both sides! Owners need to help ensure that their dog is properly suited to behave in public and admirers just to need to respect that some dogs may need the space to get there.