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5 Years ago, I didn’t know what a dog field was. I’d also never even heard of Yellow Dog UK, the gear they make or the message they are spreading. I was well used to seeing dogs wearing jackets and I always just assumed they were service dogs or young working dogs in training. Fast forward a few years and one of these jackets, a bright yellow one, would change my life.
Getting a ‘My Dog Needs Space’ yellow jacket for your reactive dog will not only transform your daily walks but it’ll help you with training, restore your confidence and help you to avoid those challenging situations that reactive dog owners dread.
I can’t remember where I was when I first saw a Yellow Dog sporting a high-vis jacket but I know that the time between seeing this dog out and about and me ordering one for my fearful dog Fleur was too long – I was sceptical and couldn’t see the value in yet another training tool.
This was a time when I was throwing everything at our training – trying too many things at once and not knowing which were working and which weren’t. I was exhausted and so was she. I spoke to a friend who is also a dog trainer and asked if she thought it would work? The answer I got was “it definitely won’t hurt”. And it didn’t – it’s the most effective training tool I have in my arsenal and we don’t go out without it.
How does it work?
Most people assume that any dog wearing a jacket should be avoided. Why? Because assistance dogs and service dogs are nearly always seen wearing jackets with some explanatory message on them. We teach kids from an early age that working dogs wearing jackets are busy and are not to be petted. This is the secret of the yellow dog jackets.
People just know to avoid a dog wearing a jacket – this works to combat reactivity to strange people and if you’re walking in a place where dogs have to be on leads, it’s a double whammy. For us this means we can go to a quiet pub garden or café knowing that it’s highly unlikely that anyone will approach our anxious fluffball.
When it comes to dogs off lead, a more proactive approach is sometimes necessary as owners might be out of sight or simply don’t know about the Yellow Dog movement. However, in my experience the message is spreading fast and in three years of Fleur wearing an ‘I Need Space’ jacket, we have only once encountered someone who really didn’t know what the jacket meant or respect it’s polite request.
Unlike a lot of other dog jackets – the black on yellow writing stands out really well and people don’t need to get too close to figure out what it says.
Tips for Using a Yellow Dog Jacket
- Make sure it fits – the sizes range from XS (Jack Russell) to XL (Great Dane)
- Make it a habit – the one time you don’t bother putting it on is when you run into an unexpected dog walker or rambler
- It’s not a cape of invincibility so you need to have all your usual tools – treats, a clicker if you use it and all the methods you use to have successful walks
- Thank people who acknowledge the jacket and give you a wide birth – the more people know and act, the better it is for all Yellow Dog owners
- Accessorise! There are lots of Yellow Dog accessories which all do the same thing – they draw attention to the fact that your dog needs space. I personally have a tabard of my own that reads ‘MY DOG NEEDS SPACE’ and I use it if I’m in the countryside and I need to be seen from further away or when the vegetation is high and Fleur is invisible below.
It’s not just reactive dogs that wear Yellow Coats
There are a huge number of reasons why a dog might be wearing a yellow coat – from being in recovery from surgery to being a grumpy old man – there are tonnes of other reasons – the only thing people need to know is to make sure they give Yellow Dogs space.
Getting Hold of Yellow Dog Gear
If you want to get hold of a Yellow Dog Jacket, bandana, lead sleeve or tabard you can find all of the Yellow Dog gear here on Amazon. Yellow Dog is a UK Charity spreading the word about Yellow Dogs and they invest a huge amount of time and money in travelling to dog events all over the UK. British Dog Fields have been proudly associated with Yellow Dog UK for several years and we are enormously grateful for the work they do through the Yellow Dog Project.