• Emma Johnston

The Yellow Dog Scheme - Is it misused?

Updated: Nov 26, 2019

The Yellow dog scheme can be a great tool. The idea behind it is a good one, but is it a system that is now causing more stress to dogs than not?

I have 9 dogs, all very different in personality, with various likes and dislikes. One of my dogs whilst not aggressive, has an underlying anxiety and can occasionally be reactive (noisy and shouty) if forced into unsuitable situations, like an off-lead dog charging over.

Because I know that my dog feels like this, my job as his guardian is to NOT put him in these situations. I, have a dog, that doesn’t enjoy romping and playing in busy dog walking fields, so you know what, we don’t go.

I respect and understand him as an individual and cater our time out to his needs.

We go to quiet locations where he can enjoy sniffing and smelling and mooching, doing the activities that make him feel good about life outside without the pressures of unfamiliar dogs upsetting him.

It always saddens me to see dogs that have harnesses, leads, bandanas on them displaying the signs of nervousness, yet these dogs are being taken to busy area’s and even more upsetting sometimes off lead.

In all honesty, busy dog parks ( if your dog is anxious about other dogs) is a total nightmare for your dog, just because in an owners head, this is where you go with a dog, to your dog, it’s the last place they really want to be.

Lots of dogs often come dashing over to greet your dog due to lack of good recall training, with shouts from the owner “its ok my dog is friendly” cue more negative experiences for your dog.

Dog’s cannot read, I’m sure most people won’t be surprised by me writing this. Yellow paraphernalia only serves the purpose of conveying this message to the human, and humans are often the issue ( if people understood the dog that doesn’t recall would be on a long line) but in their head "it's ok" as their dog is friendly" or even worse, I was once told " if your dog went for mine he would just run away scared, how sad for both dogs to have that experience.

Covering an anxious dog in yellow and then continually putting them in situations they find stressful, is setting your dog up to constantly reinforce its fears.

It’s usually after dogs have been continually exposed to these stressful situations and finally snaps or even worse bites, that people then either seek professional help or the dog goes.

So, when is the yellow dog scheme a good tool?

If you have to go to the vets for example, you choose to go sit in a corner as far removed from the stresses as possible, then the yellow dog equipment is a wonderful tool. It indicates why you are sat on your own giving as much space to your dog as possible for a reason.

If its people that your dog is anxious of, it’s a great tool to help when you have to divert off from people to avoid the strokes and rude bend downs and stares, we often bestow on dogs.

The yellow dog scheme should be used in conjunction with YOU making the right choices for your dog, it should not be used an excuse for when your dog snaps or even worse bites because the person that was supposed to be their safety net keeps putting them in situations that forces them to react, it is not a get of jail card for poor decision making.

Use the scheme but don’t abuse the scheme, be your dog’s safety net, a walk isn’t about where you think you should take a dog but what environment your dog is more likely to enjoy.

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