Yellow Dog, the campaign creating awareness for the dogs that need space, is celebrating its 10th birthday – but there are still many people who aren’t aware of what it means when a dog wears yellow.

Like people, not every dog wants attention when they are out and about. Some dogs are in training, some dogs have health issues or are recovering from surgery, some dogs are rescues being rehabilitated or have suffered a bad experience; some are nervous or older, or find the world a scary place, through no fault of their own. These are the dogs that the Yellow Dog Charity wants to help, by raising awareness that if you see a dog with a yellow bandana, jacket or lead, this dog needs space.

Yellow Dog launched in 2012 in Sweden by Eva Oliversson, a certified dog trainer and behaviourist. Yellow Dog hopes that both adults and children alike will learn that it is always respectful and important to ask before approaching or stroking a dog. As the issue is not about aggressive dogs, any and all aggressive dogs must wear a muzzle but that the charity are a tool to help with training or socialising dogs and responsible dog owners.

Yellow leads, vests and other items indicate that space is needed

Dave and Alison Gibson-Stark are the UK ambassadors for Yellow Dog, having had Yellow Dogs, themselves. They passionately believe in the campaign and what it can achieve for these dogs and their owners.

“Without realising it at the time, we had been living with a ‘yellow dog’ for several years,” says Alison. “My dog, Jake, was always a little nervous and then, after he was attacked by another dog in our local park, he was a nervous wreck.

“Going forward after that event, Jake really didn’t like men, other dogs and he was particularly scared of bicycles. Had I known about Yellow Dog back then, I’m pretty sure it would have helped him cope with life. Taking him to the park was always nervewracking; he was always on alert and because he was a yellow Lab, people just felt they could come over to pet him – I could see and feel him shaking as he would hide behind me.

“Then there was the “my dog is friendly brigade” who let their off-lead dogs run up to everyone and every dog. Jake loved people, but he needed other people and dogs to approach him on our terms and not theirs, so he could learn how to re-socialise and just get used to life again. He needed help rebuilding confidence, as did we after the dog attack – my dog needed space.

“So, having suffered the worries of owning a sensitive dog, my passion for the charity Yellow Dog evolved, both from my personal experiences and my love of dogs. I was fortunate to be able to give up my job as a legal PA to dedicate my time to Yellow Do’ alongside my partner, who had previously set up a dog boarding company, and so we became the UK ambassadors for the campaign.

“Sadly, I lost Jake a couple of years ago and was so devastated that I’m still not ready for another dog, but I strongly believe in the Yellow Dog campaign and I want to use this extra time now and the experiences I had with him to help others with nervous or anxious dogs. Hopefully, some time soon, we’ll be ready for another dog in our house.

“It seems to us to be such a simple message: “Some Dogs Need Space”. If you see a dog wearing yellow, it means the dog needs space. Please don’t approach the dog, please don’t let your off-lead dog run up to the dog, please move aside or put your dog on its lead so the yellow dog can move out of your way.

“There are so many reasons why a dog needs space: it may have health issues, it may be a rescue dog being rehabilitated, it might be training, or it might just be shy. Or it might be a dog like mine, who just was scared of everyone and everything due to a past trauma.

“We launched Yellow Dog in November 2012 at Discover Dogs in London and we have grown in leaps and bounds over the last 10 years. We are supported and sponsored by councils, vets, dog trainers and police forces, and we sell and donate various yellow items for dogs to wear, including vests, leads, lead covers, and tabards for humans! We know how stressful it can be for a Yellow Dog and its owner when a social or off-lead dog approaches. We believe that making yellow an accepted representation throughout the UK will benefit everyone and make dog walking a more enjoyable and safer experience for all, and in turn, and most importantly, give your dog a better quality of life.”





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