Did you know, that today (20th March) is the first national Dogs in Yellow Day? No? Well, read on to find out what the day is all about and how you can get involved.
Why do some dogs wear yellow?
Yellow is the colour that some nervous, anxious and reactive dogs wear to let others know they need a bit of space. But there are many other reasons a dog might need some space, such as being in training or in season. Or perhaps they’re just old and grumpy or recovering from illness.
Whatever the reason is, it’s good to know what it means. And yellow is specifically used because it’s highly visible at a distance. So, this gives you plenty of warning to take care and if you have a dog, to allow space and stop your dog bounding over.
The yellow may be on a dog harness, lead or coat. And it may be accompanied some black text, such as ‘nervous’ or ‘in training’ to help alert you. In fact, you may have already seen a dog wearing yellow and not realised its meaning. And that’s where Dogs in Yellow Day comes in.
What is Dogs in Yellow Day all about?
So, as I’ve already mentioned, Dogs in Yellow Day is all about raising awareness. Because understandably, it’s not something you’re likely to come across unless it directly affects you and your beloved pet. But it’s something that all dog owners really do need to know about.
And I think as pet owners and animal lovers we all do need to take a bit of time to notice and know why a dog is wearing yellow and understand what we can do to help make their lives that little bit easier. So, by being aware and showing compassion, we can all help each other out.
Why are dogs anxious or reactive?
So, why are some dogs anxious or reactive? Well, there’s a number of reasons. And, it’s not as many people have kindly tried to inform me, down to bad training or keeping my dog on a lead!
For us, it’s purely down to our rescue dog having come to us with those problems and although we’re working hard with her, she just isn’t comfortable with dogs running up to her or getting too close. And no matter how much training we do, that isn’t likely to change.
So, for some it may be a bad past experience or owner. But it can also be an illness or physical condition that causes it. Or it can simply be how the dog is. All dogs are unique with their own personalities after all. Of course, good socialisation early in a dogs life is crucial, but it isn’t guaranteed that every dog is going to be happy with all dogs. And as dogs get older and a bit more delicate, they can be more sensitive to young, energetic dogs.
How you can help
As Poppy’s owners, we know only too well just how stressful and difficult it can be to go for a walk. So many times we have come home from walks feeling upset. I can’t tell you how hurtful it is to be told that you’re a problem or that your dog is vicious, despite having explained politely that Poppy is anxious and needs space.
So, the best way to help any other dog owner, is to be kind. And secondly, to understand why someone may ask your friendly dog not to come over. It’s not a criticism of you or your dog, it’s purely to avoid an uncomfortable experience for both dogs.
And of course, if you do see a dog wearing yellow in any way, be cautious. Keeping your dog to heal or on a lead to allow plenty of space as you pass by, is absolutely ideal. Many people do this for us and I am eternally grateful, because it makes everything just so much better.
Another practical way to help, is to join the Yellow Army in raising awareness of Dogs in Yellow. They have posters and social media images you can use to spread the word. If you’d like to help, they’re available for free here.
Tips for helping your anxious dog
If like us, you have a nervous or reactive dog, then the wonderful ‘Yellow Army’ have plenty of tips to help you out:
- When other dog walkers are approaching, use helpful phrases such as ‘my dog is nervous, please give us space’ or ‘we’re in training, please ignore us’. This politely explains the situation and prevents dog owners feeling like they’re the problem.
- Pop something bright yellow on your dog such as a bandana, or even wear something yourself. There are plenty of off-the-shelf options available online.
- Hire a secure field to let your dog run around in peace.
- Obviously you can’t hire a field every day, so find places and times when it’s quieter to walk your dog. We often go out when people are busy doing the school run or heading to work, and in the evening at tea time!
- If you and your dog have a day when you’re stressed, try some enrichment activities instead of a walk.
- Try not to dwell on the negatives and celebrate the small wins.
- Get to know other owners in the yellow community. It’s always good to know you’re not alone! You can say ‘hi’ to us here!
The sun is shining today, so we wish you all a lovely day out on your walkies! And thanks so much for stopping by and reading this.