What does a yellow ribbon on a dog’s lead mean?

We’ve noticed dogs being walked with yellow ribbons, or other yellow markers, on their leads. When we asked what it meant, we were directed to The Yellow Dog Project.

It’s an attempt to create a standardised sign to other dog walkers that a dog with the yellow ribbon needs some space. There are many reasons for this. For example, the dog may:

  • have health issues
  • be in training
  • be in rehabilitation
  • be scared of or reactive towards other dogs

So if you see a dog with a yellow ribbon on its lead, don’t approach it yourself or with your dog. And give the dog and its owner time to move out of your way.

If your dog has an issue that means it’s best for other dogs to keep their distance, consider tying a yellow ribbon to its lead. The more yellow ribbons there are out there, the quicker it will become a recognised sign — and the happier every dog and its owner will be.

Darcy sporting a yellow ribbon

21 thoughts on “What does a yellow ribbon on a dog’s lead mean?

  1. I think it’s a fantastic idea, too! Hope it becomes universal. My Sissy is a bit shy with strangers (especially men usually). I can’t help but wonder what her life was like until I got her at nearly 5 months old. I’m not sure I’d want to put the yellow ribbon on her because, gradually she’s gotten a lot better. There are even times when she voluntarily approaches women these days.


    • It is a problem when a ribbon already has a meaning in your country. This is really aimed at all dog owners and hopefully they’ll get over the fact that a yellow ribbon on a dog lead has a different meaning to one on a car/building/tree.


  2. That’s such a great idea! My Phoebe brings out the worst in other dogs. Even mild-mannered ones find they’d like to eat her. We don’t like when other owners let their dogs rush up to her on our walkies.


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