We all know what to do when we see a dog, puppy even, wearing a jacket designating it as a trainee. We know its going to be a working dog and we all hesitate before moving into their space and ask their handler firs,t before, we attempt to pet. The question to ask is why do we recognize the importance of training for those dogs and not for every dog.
I believe very strongly that children need to meet a variety of dogs and learn how to approach them. I also believe that it is beneficial and just down right fun for dogs to meet a variety of people and receive the obvious joy and affection we have to share with them. I do however recognise that not all children are being taught how to properly approach dogs and that good intentions and efforts of responsible pet owners are being thwarted by the ignorance of others.
I’ll give you an example; well intentioned pet parent has rescued a lab cross from a local shelter. They are not fully aware of their history but are busy slowly and cautiously building up their knowledge of their dogs behaviour, likes and dislikes. While walking in the park they are keeping control of their dog and have him leashed at all times. They want their dog to become socialised but not knowing in advance what his reaction will be in different situations they warn people as they approach that they don’t know how their dog will behave. Without a prolonged conversation it is difficult to alert people that they just would like their dog to be given a little space and be asked for contact before proceeding. Without the full explanation everyone will avoid the dog and they are unable to begin the socialisation. As they round a corner on the trail. A pet parent can be seen in the distance and a dog off leash comes running to greet. Feeling threatened by the approaching dog who is at an advantage being loose and in complete control of his movements, our rescued lab adopts the defensive tactic of going on the offensive.
Was this an accurate and complete example of how our rescued lab will always behave ? No, but it very well could be the case as our pet parent braces in anticipation of a negative reaction the next time.
We talked about Yellow Dog Project in this blog before. Yellow Dog Project is a world wide initiative to save dogs lives. Yes, to save their lives. The number one cause of premature death amongst dogs in the US is euthanasia due to anti-social behaviour. Can we literally save lives by offering more dogs the same courtesy we do trainee service dogs ? Absolutely.
“Yellow Dogs are dogs who need space – they are not necessarily aggressive dogs but more often are dogs who have issues of fear; pain from recent surgery; are a rescue or shelter dog who has not yet had sufficient training or mastered obedience; are in training for work or service; are in service; or other reasons specific to the dog. “
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.
By placing a yellow ribbon visible on the leash and/or collar of your dog if they qualify, or more importantly watching for them on others, you will know to give the dog in question space and ask questions. Do you have to cross the street to avoid ? Not likely, but you know to ask and with instruction from their pet parent be a part of the initial training, rehabilitation, and ultimate survival of that canine.
Our Dog Trainers here at the dog hotel are here to advise and recommend action to assist in the continued happy and well adjusted life of your dog. Support the Yellow Dog Project through liking the local facebook page and most importantly watching for the ribbons and educating everyone you know about their significance.
……..Jenn Dahinten has been involved in healthcare and dog training for over 20 years and is currently part of the care-giving team at The Royal Pets Hotel and Spa a luxury vacation, training and daycare destination just north of Toronto in the Barrie Countryside.