The Yellow Dog Project: What Does the Yellow Ribbon Mean?

Dogs wearing yellow ribbons on their collars need space.

Have you ever been out for a walk with your children and seen someone walking their dog? Do your children want to rush over to greet the canine cutie? If this has happened to you, you aren't alone. Many children love dogs, and they don't know that they can't approach all of them the same way. In fact, adults sometimes don't approach new dogs in the best manner. Most dogs will forgive our human foibles when it comes to canine manners. But there are some that will react negatively to being approached exuberantly.


In 2011, a professional dog walker in Portland, Maine coined the term "dinos," standing for "dogs in need of space." Here are some reasons that dogs may be dinos:

The Yellow Dog Project

In an effort to educate people about approaching dogs properly, and in order to decrease the chances of dog bites, The Yellow Dog Project has been established. If you have a dog that you know doesn't react well to being approached enthusiastically by children, adults, or other dogs, is overly-exuberant himself, is recovering from surgery and needs to be treated gently, or just needs his space for whatever reason, you can place a yellow ribbon around his collar, leash, or harness. It's important to spread the word about Yellow Dogs because the yellow ribbon can only do its job if people know what it means.

Teach your children what the yellow ribbon means, and make sure that they know they should not approach a dog that is wearing one. It's also important to teach children not to rely on the presence of a yellow ribbon to identify a dog that needs his space. They should be cautious when approaching any unknown dog.

Rules for Approaching Unknown Dogs

Some people may not have heard of The Yellow Dog Project yet and may not have the ribbon on their dog's collar. Children should be taught that all dogs need to be approached cautiously and only with the consent of the dog's owner. Below are some guidelines for how to approach an unknown dog, if the dog's owner says it's OK to do so.

General Rules to Teach Children for Dealing with Dogs:

If You Have Dinos (Dog(s) in Need of Space):

The Yellow Dog Project can help spread awareness that not all dogs should be approached. Getting the word out about what it means when a dog is wearing a yellow ribbon is a first step, and education about dog bite prevention should be learned by all adults and taught to children. You can find out more about dog bite prevention here.


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