There’s a reason dogs are called “man’s best friend.” Dogs are loyal and loving and make great companions. That’s why, for most of us, when we see a dog out in public we want to run over and make friends with them right away!

But while a lot of dogs would welcome any attention and new friends they can get, that is not the case for every dog. Some dogs need a little space.

This can be for a variety of reasons. Perhaps the dog is a rescue who was abused and is scared of other people. Maybe they are nervous dogs who get skittish in unfamiliar surroundings, or they don’t play well with other dogs. Or they could be service dogs in training or just energetic puppies who are still learning how to interact with humans – especially little ones.

At first glance, it can be hard to tell which dogs would love to meet you and which dogs you should be a little more cautious around. That’s why Tara Palardy of Alberta, Canada, started The Yellow Dog Project.

The Yellow Dog Project is a non-profit organization started in 2012 as a way to bring public awareness to DINOS, or Dogs In Need Of Space.

If you see a dog with a yellow ribbon tied around its leash, its owners are just letting you know that this dog needs a little extra space.

It doesn’t necessarily mean that the dog will attack you or do anything dangerous or harmful, it’s just a warning – like a yellow traffic light – to slow down and use caution before approaching.

If a person has put a yellow ribbon on their dog’s leash, they are probably more than happy to explain to you what it means and why their dog needs some extra space. They may even be willing for you to meet their pup and play with them – they just want you to go about it more cautiously than you typically might.

Some dogs, instead of yellow ribbons, might have yellow leashes, scarves, or vests instead, like these adorable pups:

The Yellow Dog Project wants people to know that tying a yellow ribbon on your dog’s leash is not a waiver of responsibility or an excuse not to train your dog. It is still up to you to teach your dog the proper way to behave – the yellow ribbon just lets people know that they are still learning.

We think this initiative is brilliant – lots of anxiety for dogs and injuries for people (especially children) can be avoided if we learn to give these dogs the space they need.

If you do see a dog with a yellow ribbon, you don’t need to avoid it. Just remember to approach them with caution and respectfully ask the dog’s owner if it would be okay for you to get close. More often than not, we bet the answer will be yes!

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