September 27, 2012

Piper & The Yellow Dog Project

I've talked about my beagle, Piper, here before but she has a secret I haven't mentioned. About a month after my husband and I adopted her, just before last Christmas, she was bitten by an aggressive and unleashed dog in my neighborhood. Thankfully, Piper was not seriously harmed in the encounter, but it terrified her (and it terrified me). I teasingly call her my intrepid beagle now, but in reality, her boldness is just a front.

Piper with her only canine friend, Dante.
Piper, in fact, is quite afraid of dogs because of this experience. Unfortunately, she acts out this fear by becoming aggressive when she's leashed. I've consulted a trainer and I have been working with Piper to ease her fears. She used to go wild just at the sight of another dog. Now she just gets upset when a dog comes within 20 feet or so.

I'm happy I've been able to make progress with her, but there's been a lot of backslides. This is primarily due to other dog owners in my neighborhood who do not understand proper dog greeting protocol. Step 1 is Ask My Permission! They often assume that my cute, floppy-eared dog wants to meet their dog. Even despite my protests (and her growling/barking), some people still come up to us with their dog.

This problem is conflated by the diversity of my apartment complex- there are probably fifteen different languages spoken here, and I only know two (one of them poorly). The best thing I can do in these situations is turn right around and walk briskly away- and I've had to do it. Even if she doesn't act like it with her aggression, Piper is afraid of that dog. She is a Dog In Need of Space (a DINO).

I just heard of a project called The Yellow Dog Project which was created in order to bring awareness to dogs who need space from other dogs "while training, recovering from surgery, or being rehabilitated" or, in Piper's case, for being reactive to other dogs. The idea is that if you see a dog who has a yellow ribbon tied to their leash, they're a dog who needs space and you should not approach them with your dog. You should give them and their owner some space to move away.

What a wonderful idea. It's a movement on an international level, as well, which means if it gains traction, people will know what it means no matter the language they speak (a huge help in my area, for sure). At the time of this posting, 24 countries are represented on their website. The symbol of the yellow ribbon eliminates the verbal element entirely so there is no ambiguity about the situation- it simply means please stay away.

I put my current quilting project aside for a bit this afternoon and made Piper her own yellow ribbon. That strap around her nose is a Gentle Leader (a product I highly recommend) and it not a muzzle. It goes around the back of her head and around her nose, allowing me better control of her so that when she does start acting foolish, I can direct her face away from the dog so she's not looking at it anymore. It's been a godsend in helping me to retrain her dog aggressive behavior.

I'm not expecting any immediate results with the ribbon, but it's something that's easy to explain to people, and something they might even ask about. It almost advertizes itself. The Project is looking into getting ribbons and shirts of their own to sell. I will be first in line to buy a shirt when they come out.

Please help them and pass the word along about this fabulous project. They're on Facebook currently, and I'm sure they'll join Twitter soon.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...