If you are the owner of a dog that temporarily can’t engage with other dogs or doesn’t enjoy canine contact you will know how surprisingly difficult it can be to convince other, well-meaningful dog owners to keep their distance.
A campaign has been started to help focus dog owners on dogs that may be in training, recovering from an operation, being rehabilitated or a bit nervous or grumpy.
For these dogs, being unable to escape such encounters can impede on progress, impact on general well-being and cause problem behaviours to become more ingrained.
Puppies, for example, need to learn to concentrate on their owners even when there are big distractions around them, such as other dogs that want to play and have fun. Unwell dogs may behave unpredictably whilst recuperating, especially if they are in pain and feel vulnerable and it can become stressful for an elderly dog to have a younger dog bounce towards them. Indeed, if we are to succeed at rehabilitating dogs that have had unpleasant experiences in their lives they will benefit considerably from having their personal space respected whist being out in public spaces.
The campaign concept is easy to follow and was started in Sweden some years ago. It asks owners to introduce a yellow ribbon onto a dog’s lead so other park users know not to approach. It’s now working across 20 countries but is relatively new to the UK.
As well as yellow ribbons, there are all kind of colour-coded items that can be used to give a clear message, from bandanas and dog coats with the words ‘I Need Space’ branded on them to bright yellow leads. There are even yellow vests that can be worn by the dog’s owner.
The campaign is growing in the UK as more pet professionals are becoming aware of it. Dog professionals and veterinarians do have a big role to play in spreading the word but it’s the dog owners themselves that can make the biggest impact and really help to pass on and educate each other about it so that it becomes a recognizable and acceptable code of practice.
In the meantime, it’s worth remembering why some dog owners don’t engage with you and why you shouldn’t take this personally because, however sociable your dog is the dog you are approaching might be:
· A puppy in training
· Unwell or recuperating
· Post operative
· Female in season
· Old, fragile (& grumpy)
· Rescue dog being rehabilitated
· Nervous & timid temperament
· Implementing a behaviour modification plan
· Discontent around other dogs
And, if you are walking your dog and see another dog with a yellow ribbon on it’s lead or yellow bandana around its neck, the message is clear – this dog needs some space!
For more information and to buy products please visit: www.spacedog.org.uk
If you have any concerns about your dog’s behaviour please seek professional advice prior to introducing any changes to their routine, either from a pet behaviorist: www.apbc.co.uk
or trainer: www.apdt.co.uk
01664 454 792