VET’S VIEW: Give dogs space with Yellow Dog UK project

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LAST week, an anxious German shepherd named River came to see me, sporting a rather interesting lead.

Not only was it bright-yellow, but on it was the word ‘NERVOUS’. Whatever size or breed of dog, clear information like this is extremely valuable – not just to protect anyone from possible dog bites, but to keep the stress levels down for the dog, too.

This excellent, simple idea reminded me of the clever Yellow Dog UK project, which means any dog sporting a yellow ribbon, bandanna or similar on its lead, is saying “This dog needs space, so, please, do not come close to this dog with your dog.”

But how close is too close? Well, only the dog and its owner know, so please keep a healthy distance, allowing both time to move and, if necessary, explain any situation.

Dogs need space for many reasons. Perhaps they are injured or suffering health issues, or a rescue dog being rehabilitated. Sometimes, bad experiences with other dogs, bitches in season, even very old dogs and those suffering from arthritis, can be reasons that can make dogs sometimes behave differently and unpredictably.

Yellow ribbons or bandannas may be used for shorter term periods, too, such as when a dog is being trained or instructed.In the longer term, they can be used if a dog is elderly, and does not like young, lively dogs around it.

Of course, socialisation is essential for every dog’s well-being and development, so this clever campaign will, hopefully, encourage dog owners to recall their dogs when they spot a dog wearing a yellow ribbon, giving that dog and its owner time to move out the way and to get him used to people and animals.

If your dog has behaviour problems, please always contact a qualified dog trainer or dog behaviourist after a full clinical examination by your vet.

For more information about the Yellow Dog campaign, visit www.yellowdoguk for details.