What Does it Mean When There is a Yellow Ribbon on a Dog's Leash?

Dogs are not just our best friends, they're loyal and loving. We owe it to them to ensure that they live a happy life. We should be aware of how dogs can get anxious and what we can do about it. Many different factors contribute to dog anxiety.

You might know your furry best friend's biggest fears, but how do you convey that when you are out on a walk? How can you tell people that your dog is shy or even scared of other people?

The answer might simply be to add a yellow ribbon to your dog's leash.

A family taking a dog for a walk.

Alt-Text: A family taking a dog for a walk.


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The Yellow Ribbon Project

The Yellow Ribbon Project is a campaign that aims to help dogs who are anxious or scared of other people. The project introduces yellow ribbons to dog owners, which they can use to indicate to others that their dog is shy or nervous. This little addition allows people who see the ribbon to know to give the dog some space and not to approach them.

Palardy, a graduate of Animal Behavior College, launched The Yellow Dog Project in 2013 to assist dog owners who were frustrated by their dogs' reactive behavior. Things like crowded sidewalks, sirens, and baby strollers were enough to trigger a reaction, sometimes aggression.

These dogs might need extra space because of trauma, because they are currently in training, or even because crowds make them anxious.

What Classifies a Dog as a Yellow Ribbon Dog?

Not every dog is considered to be a Yellow Ribbon Dog. But you might find it helpful to know and understand these anxious behaviors.

Megan Stanley, board chair of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, has spoken about how most people recognize normal aggressive reactions easily—such as pinned ears, snarling, barking, and lunging. However, not every reaction behavior can be easily spotted.

A dog in a field of yellow flowers.

Alt-Text: A dog in a field of yellow flowers.

People, especially dog lovers, tend to be fearless when interacting with other pups. So having a yellow ribbon on your dog's leash can help keep your dog feeling safe.

A yellow ribbon is beneficial for apprehensive dogs, shelter dogs who have not yet mastered their cues, and dogs with discomfort due to a medical problem or service dogs in training.

If your dog reacts to its fears by attempting to run or hide behind you, it's a good idea for him to wear yellow. These are nervous and timid behaviors that can cause a dog to bite unexpectedly.

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Will My Dog Always Need a Yellow Ribbon?

While many times, with a little work and training, dogs can overcome these nervous habits. Just like a teen driver will get confident behind the wheel. However, some dogs will be forever a yellow ribbon dog. It all just depends on the individual dog and its level of comfort.

Related: Winter Safety for Dogs

What You Should do if Your Dog is a Yellow Ribbon Dog

If you have a skittish dog and need a yellow ribbon, it is important to be a responsible dog owner. This means understanding your dog's needs and taking the necessary precautions to make sure they feel safe.


A collection of leashes from The Tail Wags

Alt-Text: A collection of leashes from The Tail Wags


Some things you can do to help your skittish dog include:

  • Avoiding busy traffic areas like downtown
  • Go for a walk when fewer people are out
  • Take your dog for training
  • Slowly socialize your dog
  • And, of course, have a yellow ribbon on them.

Related: What Breed is My Mixed Breed Dog?


While not everyone will know what the yellow ribbon means, it can be a great way to raise awareness of these dogs.

Help keep them feeling safe in an environment that might be scary for them. So if you have a yellow ribbon dog, make sure to use the yellow ribbon to help make their walks a little bit easier.

Make sure you have a comfortable leash that helps the yellow ribbon stand out. The Tail Wags for high-quality leashes. Shop now.