Yellow Ribbons and Wishful Thinking

For families of veterans a yellow ribbon is an article of faith. How about for dog people?

For families of veterans a yellow ribbon is an article of faith. How about for dog people?

A movement that has been making the rounds for a while now is encouraging people to place yellow ribbons on dogs that need space. "Needing space" is a euphemism for dogs that display aggressive behavior toward other dogs and/or toward people. (Labeling dogs as aggressive is bad. So we give them a different label.)

While this idea comes from a sentiment that I can certainly empathize with, I think it is not only doomed to failure but that it actually has the potential to cause more problems than it solves

Yellow Ribbons Will Never be Widely Adopted

First there’s the issue of whether or not enough people will use this to make it a reliable tool. We can’t get people to stop buying dogs from pet stores and puppy mills. We can’t get trainers to stick to science to choose and discuss their methods. (This goes for trainers on both sides of the fence by the way. "Do as I Do Dog Training?" Really? Let’s start a new training method based on a couple of studies.) Hell, we can’t even get people to agree on administering vaccinations to prevent disease in our children, let alone our dogs.

But we’re going to get people to reliably put yellow ribbons on dogs that need distance from each other?

Right. The check is in the mail too.

False Security or Denial?

Do you believe that these ribbons would be, if they somehow gained widespread adoption, a trustworthy indicator of an aggressive dog? Do you think that the absence of a ribbon would be a good indicator of a friendly dog?

Go to any conference, or even a working seminar, that allows "friendly" dogs and objectively watch the dogs that (alleged) professionals decide to bring. Chances are you’ll see at least a few that honestly do not belong there. Strike up a conversation and the rationale for bringing the dog there will be appalling…if there even is any recognition that there is a problem.

The sad fact is that denial is a very powerful force, powerful enough to make the desire to have one’s dog with oneself more important than the comfort of the dog. People, especially dog enthusiasts are terrible at self-selection when it comes to their dog’s behavior. The sad fact is a creative explanation for a dog’s behavior is often an acceptable substitute for actually addressing the problem.

And what happens when it’s possible to place a warning signal on an aggressive dog? Who’s problem is the behavior then?

Your Dog is Your Problem

Whether your dog "needs space" or not, your dog is your responsibility. Period. Placing a warning on your dog so that others can look out for her, or relying on other people to tell you that it is safe for your dog is not a good idea. Either way, you are relying on the judgement of others.

Of course many of the ribbons’ advocates are thinking “but the ribbons are only meant to serve as a warning, not as a crutch!” But that’s how they are likely to be used, and at best they are a distraction from what we need to be teaching our clients to do, as well as doing ourselves.

In situations in which you will meet dogs that you are not familiar with:

If your dog does not want to interact with other dogs, keep her away from other dogs.

If your dog does want to interact with other dogs, keep her away from other dogs.

It’s really simple, and all you need to do is look out for yourself and your dog, which is what you should be doing anyway.

Yellow Ribbons and Wishful Thinking is a post written by . You can see the actual post at Dog Training in Bergen County New Jersey


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Catch Dogster HQ at SuperZoo

Just a quick heads-up for any Vegas-based Dogsters, or those of you who might be attending the SuperZoo conference on the strip this year: Dogster HQ is in town, and we’d love to see you. 

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Our bags are stuffed with swag!

As you can see from the photo above, we've brought some Dogster (and Catster!) swag with us, and we'll be handing them out to you until we run out. The conference is at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center from today, July 22, through Thursday, July 24. In attendance are Community Manager Lori Malm, Managing Editor Vicky Walker, and Editor-in-Chief Janine Kahn -- that's us pictured up top!

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To find us, follow along on instagram (we're @Dogster), where we'll be posting photos of the cool and/or wacky pet products we see at the conference. Use #HQatSuperZoo to get our attention! We'll also be in and out of the I-5 Publishing booth, #10079, from 11 a.m. today onwards, so you can drop by there, too. (Lori is @pawpawrazzi on instagram, and Janine is @janinekahn if you want to follow our personal feeds as well!)

See you at the 'Zoo!

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Doggie Tips For Cold Weather

Doggie tips for cold weather obviously isn’t anything you care about if you live in one of the southwestern states or Florida, but for the rest of the dog owners it’s important information to help keep their dog safe and warm all winter long.

If the weather outside is too cold for you, it’s also going to be too cold for your dog. If you live in a part of the country that has frigid winters, your dog should be kept indoors as much as possible during the cold weather months and never ever leave your dog alone in the car when the mercury drops below freezing.

During winter storms, city crews often put de-icers on sidewalks and parking areas to prevent people from slipping and falling. If a dog should get thirsty and decide to lap up some of the ice that has melted from the application of a de-icer, the water melt will be toxic and can cause sickness or possible death in a pet.

Prolonged exposure to dry, cold air and chilly rain, and the sleet and snow of winter can cause problems for a dog. Repeatedly coming out of the cold into dry heat can leave a dog with dry, itchy, flaking skin or severely chapped paws. Keeping your home humidified and drying your pet as soon as it comes out of the cold weather will keep it warm and comfortable.

If your weather is really cold and your dog has short hair, you can keep it warm by buying a pet sweater or coat to help your dog retain body heat and prevent its skin from getting too dry. It’s common to see small dogs dressed for the worst of winter, but size doesn’t matter when it comes to cold weather and your big dog will be just as comfortable in a warm and toasty sweater or coat.

When you take your dog for a walk in winter weather it’s also a good idea to have it wear winter booties with warm inner linings to help minimize contact with salt crystals which can be painful to a dog’s paws. It’s also the best way to keep your dog from stepping in poisonous anti-freeze and other chemicals used to melt ice, and inadvertently licking the toxic mix off its paws after returning home.

It’s not a good idea to give your dog frequent baths during cold winter weather. Bathing a dog too often removes essential oils from the skin and increases the chance its skin will become dry and flaky. If you must bathe your dog, use a moisturizing shampoo each time and dry the dog well.

Dogs burn more energy trying to stay warm in wintertime and this can result in dehydration. You can avoid this problem by feeding your dog just a little bit more food during cold weather (what dog is going to refuse extra food!) and be sure there is always fresh water for it to drink.

I hope these doggie tips for cold weather will help some of you pet owners who suffer through those long, cold winters.

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Are you aware of the suffocation threat Frito Lays and snack bags pose to your dogs?

Bonnie Odem Harlan, Founder of Prevent Pet Suffocation, brings awareness to pet parents in Memory of her Beloved Furry Angel, BLUE.

dorito bag

Dogs are dying daily, and it CAN happen to your beloved pet… to any of our pets!!!!

Be sure to cut the top and bottom of the bag off completely before throwing it away, and be certain snack bags are never left anywhere your pet may have access to one… not even an unaccessible location! Hide them up above in a closed cabinet or pantry, out of sight and smell.

When a dog puts their head into the bag and begins to breath, a vacuum seal is created preventing them from removing the bag.

I just received notice of the fourth doggie this week — rather, the fourth owner whom has come forward and brought the unfortunate news to Prevent Pet Suffocation’s attention, sharing their dog has died as the result of suffocating in a Frito Lays bag or similar snack bag.  Last week a dog suffocated with their head stuck in a plastic animal cracker container.  The numbers are increasing rapidly, and, most likely, there have been many other unreported deaths.

Visit Prevent Pet Suffocation’s Facebook page and read the stories… so extremely sad!  More importantly, please go to their web site and sign the petition to  have warning notices printed on the bags!!!

The original article appeared on MADMIKESAMERICA… after reading Bonnie’s heartbreaking experience, I’ve been following Prevent Pet Suffocation and helping spread awareness by sharing her story about Blue, as well as the horrific posts from many devastated pet parents, in an attempt to save other beloved pets’ lives.

Helping to keep beloved furry babies healthy and safe… and pet parents informed!


I’ve Got the ‘Scoop’!, LLC, in Palmyra

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