You Should Probably Let People Know Not to Pet Your Cranky-Ass Dog

Illustration for article titled You Should Probably Let People Know Not to Pet Your Cranky-Ass Dog

Look, most of us probably want to tackle every dog we see and rub our faces on their fuzzy bellies, but we just can't. Besides the fact that such a deranged course of action wouldn't be practical, some dogs, believe it or not, do not want our tender cuddles, which is the message that Tara Palardy's Yellow Dog Project is trying to spread.

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Palardy, a Canadian dog trainer, founded the Yellow Dog Project in an effort to raise awareness that not all dogs are tail-wagging, tongue-kissing friendly. The concept's pretty simple: if your dog is ornery (either because it's a misanthrope or because you just took it for a nightmarish visit to the vet) and doesn't want to be approached, to tie a yellow ribbon to its collar or under-ear fluff. Palardy got the idea from a Swedish website, but the Yellow Dog Project has already outgrown its origins — in just six months it has attracted more than 12,000 followers around the world.

That's a good thing because when dog-mania seizes some people, it's hard to stop them from hauling off and petting random dogs. My dog, for instance, is a total asshole — she despises strangers, but she's cursed with a preternatural cuteness that draws small, erratically moving children directly into the kill zone. It's cruelly ironic. If Palardy's project really takes off (and it'd have to in order to be truly effective), anybody who has come to terms with the fact that they adopted or raised an unfriendly dog will be able to responsibly let other perambulating citizens know, "Oh, btw — my dog is kind of a jerk."

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Now we come to the big, glaring "however" in this story, which is that the Yellow Dog Project won't cure delusion. There are plenty of responsible, aware dog owners who have either made damn sure that their domesticated grey wolf descendents are cool around other people and their pets, or are careful not to put their grey wolf descendents (and you really can't stress that enough — dogs are animals, with teeth and a nose for red meat) in overwhelming situations. There are also plenty of people who are either straight-up irresponsible pet owners, or are in denial about what complete assholes their dogs can be. People, say, like those annoying neighbors who never, ever leash their ill-behaved dogs because everyone wants to have a cool off-leash dog that takes itself on walks and hangs out in the bar like people. Or people who watch too much Dog Whisperer and think they have their dog figured out until one fine day it swallows someone's cat and develops a taste for blood.

Yellow Dog Project signals not-so-social dogs [USA Today]

Image via WilleeCole/ Shutterstock.

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DISCUSSION

My child has rules about dogs. She asks first if it's okay to pet the dog and then, if it's a yes, what is the dog's favorite spot, like ears or neck. Then, she puts her palm out, flat, to let the dog get a bit of a sniff. Then, she gets to pet the dog.

Here's what I don't like. People who take their aggressive dogs for walks in crowded places full of people and other dogs like an outdoor mall. It's really, profoundly stupid. There are plenty of places to take your dog for a walk that will not freak the dog out or create a situation where the dog will be trying to fight with another dog. As well, they have certain types of muzzles that one can use, if you know you're going to be in a place where the dog might be a problem.