Virginia Nelson

Virginia Nelson

Submitted photo

Everyone has that one person they just can’t stand. Not for any particular reason other than “you just don’t.” That’s OK, we are human after all.

While it would be a lovely world if we all got along based on the mere fact that we belong to the same species, often times we’d like to bite each others heads off.

The same principles apply for dogs, with no holds barred on the biting.

Not all dogs enjoy the company of other dogs. Seems like a logical statement, but one that many pet owners forget.

On any given day, you can find me cruising around with the likes of German Shepherds, Pit Bulls, Dobermans and my ever-so-threatening Pugs. I’m a 5-foot, 2-inch weapon of mass destruction.

Yet, when encountered by a fellow pet lover, the urge for a canine sniff session never ceases to present itself.

I’m left with one of two options — brace myself for utter chaos, or resist the urge to snap back at the glares and disappointment from others when I say, “This dog is not friendly.”

“Not friendly.” Short and to the point, but often untrue. These “unfriendly” dogs are actually quite friendly, they just don’t play well with others and need a little space.

In the midst of my desperation came a vision in yellow. The answer to my dog walking prayers and an important rule of etiquette all pet owners should know about.

The Yellow Dog Project is a movement created to bring awareness to the general public about dogs who need space. A gentler and kinder way of saying, “BACK OFF!” in the form of a yellow ribbon tied around your special pets’ leash.

In addition to pets with social issues, the project takes into consideration a variety of reasons no pet owner should approach another pet without permission including.

Working dogs

Most of us think of our household pets as children with fur, but some dogs clock in to work each day. Service dogs and therapy dogs may seem sweet and friendly (and they probably are), but these pets sole purpose is to provide their owner with care. An unpleasant interaction could severely disrupt years of training.

History of abuse

Dog owners who’ve rescued their pet from the shelter know there are triggers that activate certain reactions based on the dog’s experience prior to adoption. If the pet was abused by humans or animals, chances are they may be reactive and skittish in social situations.


A pet could be in the process of recovering from surgery, injury or other physical or emotional experience that may cause them to react negatively toward another animal. An unwelcome social interaction could cause added stress and trauma to an already vulnerable situation.


Dogs in training can become easily distracted and interrupted by their surroundings. Particularly, dogs who are learning self-control around other pets. Be mindful of their efforts by staying out of the way.

If your dog prefers to have his or her own space, make it known. Become a part of The Yellow Dog Project by tying a yellow ribbon to your pets’ leash. Spread the word and help keep the peace in the canine world. Learn more at

• Ahwatukee Foothills resident Virginia Nelson is co-owner of Desert Dog Pet Care, a locally operated pet care company. Reach her at (602) 538-5486 or

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