Have you ever seen a dog with a yellow leash, harness or collar on? How about a dog with a yellow bow tied onto their leash? You might not have seen this before, but you’re more likely to in the future. Why? It’s an effort from the Yellow Dog Project to help people with dogs who need extra space.

The yellow leash/harness/ribbon is a signal to others that this dog needs space, and is a polite request that you not approach. There are many reasons a dog might need space: they may be fearful, recovering from an injury, currently in a training session, or working as a service dog, for instance. These dogs still benefit greatly from going outside and walking around the neighborhood, but would do better without having close contact with other people or dogs.

Do’s and Don’ts if you see a Yellow Ribbon Dog:

Don’t walk up to pet them!

Do change your path so that you don’t approach closely.

Don’t stare at them! (Staring and eye contact make it harder for dogs to stay attuned to their handler.)

Do keep aware of where they are so that you can politely give them space.

Don’t walk your dog up to them. Even if your dog is the friendliest, gentlest dog in the whole world! Remember, it’s not about your dog – it’s about their dog’s safety, training, and/or ability to work in the moment.

If your dog is off-leash, Do call them to you and put their leash on until the Yellow Dog is out of sight.

Do spread the word about the Yellow Dog Project! The more people who know what this signal means, the safer our communities will be for dogs who need a little fresh air, and also need a little space to be able to enjoy it. Here is a lovely poster by Lili Chin of Doggie Drawings illustrating the Yellow Dog Project: