Swedish dog trainer and a behaviourist Eva Oliversson, launched a programme called Gulahund Yellow Dog in 2012. It has soon spread to 16 countries. Here in the UK, the programme has taken a form of a charity and is called Yellow Dog UK. It`s organised by NarpsUK, organisation for pet sitters and walkers. Nikki Parra, the managing director of NarpsUK described the initiative as a “great way to educate dog owners and the public, who will understand that a dog wearing a ribbon simply needs some space.”
Lauren Watts, a dog trainer, and a behaviourist, has implemented the use of yellow ribbon, bandanas, and vests, in her training programme. “Lots of dogs I work with will benefit from the use of the yellow vest. I personally recommend this to most of the dog owners I work with. It`s a great way to warn people to stay away from a long distance. “
Why may some dog need an extra space? It can be due to health issues, dogs in training, a bitch in heat, older age, nervousness or shyness. All these things cause a significant stress to the dog.
Dogs with behavioural issues need more space to help them cope with the environment. This space is often invaded by strangers or other dogs and this prolongs the training. Yellow ribbon sends a clear signal, that a dog is off limits. Behavioural adjustment training is a long-term process that requires a great amount of patience and as Lauren Watts says, can take weeks or even years to show a difference.
Some owners decide to rehome their dogs rather than devote to the training. Although this can be good for a well-behaved dog, those with behavioral issues might end up being destroyed. Battersea dog`s home put twenty-four percent of their dogs down in 2015. “That would have been for a range of mostly behavioural and temperament issues.” Said Claire Horton, chief executive of Battersea.
“Warning people with a vest that says to give the dog more space is both helping the dog, and the owner. If someone decides to approach the dog anyway, the cannot say they
haven`t been warned, ” says Watts.
Yellow Dog UK has an online store, where dog owners can buy items such as vests, leads, ribbons or donate money to the charity. For those who would like to spread the word, posters and flyers are available to print out from the website.
“Any dog owner truly committed to helping their dog should consult a veterinarian first. The yellow ribbon is a great thing, but won`t solve the problem on its own. Dogs with aggression problem should always wear a muzzle,” Watts adds.