Is your dog a DINOS? The acronym hasn’t quite caught on yet, but it stands for Dog in Need of Space. Coined by Maine dogwalker Jessica Dolce, the term is used to describe dogs who don’t like being approached by other dogs or strange people -- they need space to be comfortable.
If you haven’t heard of DINOS, perhaps you’ve heard of The Yellow Dog Project, which is making its way around Facebook in the form of a screenshot of a poster asking people with less-than-social dogs to tie yellow ribbons to their collars and leashes, as a sign that they shouldn’t be approached. To date, the movement has almost 16,000 “likes” on the site.
There are lots of reasons dog owners don’t want strangers coming up to their pets. Mocha, the sweet chocolate lab I had for 10 amazing years, loved people to no end, but really did not like other dogs. This forced me to yell, “She’s not friendly!” when other dog owners would let their pets approach, and stifle saying “moron” when they ignored me and brought their dogs over anyway (which happened more often than I care to remember). The Labragator loves dogs, but she’s more enthusiastic than many other dogs, she’s big and powerful, and she does not understand the concept of tangled leashes. So while I’m happy to let her romp with her furry friends in a fenced-in yard or dog park, doing it on a walk is less than fun for everyone involved.
The concept behind The Yellow Dog Project is simple: a dog wearing yellow doesn’t want to be approached. While some pet experts say they’re not sure it’s going to catch on, advocates have snapped up yellow ribbons from craft stores and specialty websites, and some have gone so far as to have yellow vests printed for their dogs and wear their own yellow shirts that explain what the color means. The project has also received a bit of press coverage in the last few weeks, helping spread the word about yellow ribbons and dogs.
I want to hear from you: If you have a stranger-wary or dog-wary pooch, how do you handle it when you’re out and about? What do you think of the yellow ribbon campaign? Please comment below and let’s chat.