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New dog trend called the Yellow Ribbon Project aims to keep dogs and their owners safe

7:54 PM, Mar 13, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A new trend for dogs might help keep you and your four-legged friends safer.

It's called the Yellow Dog Project. It's a movement that started in Canada and has already attracted more than 16,000 followers from around the world. A yellow ribbon tied on a dog's leash or collar signifies that the dog needs a little extra space and might not be safe to approach.

Melanie Curley has two small dogs that aren't really fans of kids. 

"I have had a few kids come up and they started growling at them," she said.

"When dogs are away from their home environment a lot of times they can become territorial," explains pet expert and Chief Operating Officer of Pet Paradise Fernando Acosta-Rua.

"They don't know their surroundings very well and they can become a little apprehensive and that apprehensive nature can cause them to do things they otherwise may not do."

Acosta-Rua said although he hasn't seen any yellow ribbons yet, he wouldn't be surprised if they picked up in popularity soon. 

"Anything that could distinguish them that [says] 'Hey, be a little cautious. This is a dog you need to be a little careful about' is a great idea."

Dogs can be out in many public places, most times of the day. For example at most beaches, dogs can be out before 9 a.m. and after 5 p.m. 

"You see dogs out so much more in environments where humans are now," Acosta Rua says. "A lot of places want people to bring their pets in there, and the interaction between people and pets in restaurants or parks is a lot more prevalent now than it used to be."

Other pet owners we talked to agree with the importance of knowing how to approach a dog.

"If the dog would be nice or not, because you don't really know, you can't tell at first glance," said dog-lover Laura Peers.

Jonathan Howard has a dog that's half Mastiff, half Rottweiler and likes the idea of the yellow symbol.

"It lets people know without having to ask the owners that, 'hey, this dog might not be super friendly.'"

Experts say even if the dog isn't wearing a ribbon, it's always important that you check with the owner first before you approach a strange dog, regardless of the dog's size or demeanor.

For more information on dog-friendly parks and beaches in Duval County, click here.

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