Why some dog owner's are already experts at social distancing

Prior to the development of many having to self isolate and consider social distancing I had planned to discuss 'yellow dogs' for this week's #whywednesday post.

I toyed with covering a different topic this week such as canine enrichment which some may feel useful at this time but I decided that now may in fact be the perfect time to raise awareness about dog's who may wear yellow or be walked on a yellow leash.

So why yellow, what is a 'reactive dog', what can you do to help and why is it important for you to be aware of this?

Yellow is a nice bright colour which is easy to see, captures your attention quickly and is also the official warning colour for caution. People who have dog's termed as 'reactive' have used yellow collars, leads, harnesses and tshirt's to try and alert other's to the fact that they need space.

A dog may be reactive for a number of different reasons, including pain, past bad experiences, health predicaments, anxiety and more. This may display as barking, lunging or in a more subtle way but what these dogs benefit from most is space. Dog's who are afraid or worried about something will often naturally try to distance themselves from that stimuli, when enough distance is achieved the reaction will dissipate and the dog will begin to relax. Their cortisol levels will remain heightened, it can take up to 72 hours for their stress levels to return to normal levels. So it goes without saying that if we can gift them the distance they need then their mental health will be miles better and their quality of life will be too.

As well as being aware of the benefit in giving space to the dog who is struggling it also will help to keep you and your dog safe. A nervous, scared dog may be perceieved as aggressive and they certainly may have the capacity to do some damage. Consider fight or flight responses and imagine yourself in agony with an injury for example when a bouncy, boisterous youngster comes up to enthusiastically say hi. You need that bouncy individual to give you some space but you're contained on a leash or backed into a corner so you can't escape (flight), it's pretty obvious what will likely come next.

'Yellow Dogs' are not bad dogs, they are individuals who need you to be aware of social etiquette and to be sure that you'll respect their need for space. Your friendly dog isn't going to be welcomed with open arms and a gentle nuzzle if they bound over to a yellow dog. It's your responsibility to practise recall and be confident that you can recall your dog away in many situations, including when meeting onleash dogs or dogs wearing yellow.

At a time when many people who have never had to consider social distancing before are doing so, I hope that we will remember that some dogs and individuals require this practise throughout their lives. And I hope we will be more mindful and understanding of this when normality resumes.

If you're own dog could do with being given some space when out and about then do check out My Anxious Dog for a range of lovely yellow dog wear and accessories.

And hey, if you're in self isolation but popping out to walk the dog or for some exercise, using social distancing to limit the spread of Covid_19, then maybe wear yellow and let's make this a world known sign for space - human or otherwise!

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