Wellington City Council is set to introduce a colour-coded ribbon scheme to encourage responsible dog ownership – with a yellow ribbon indicating when a dog needs some space from other canines when in public.
Council says the city has experienced an increase in dog attack incidents in recent years, which prompted its move to join the international Yellow Ribbon campaign to address dog behavioural issues.
“The campaign encourages owners to tie a yellow ribbon around their dog’s collar or leash to indicate if they need a bit of space,” Council said in a statement.
This could be for many reasons, including age, injury, training, rescue dog work, anxiety around other dogs and/or people.
Council’s Public Health Manager, Helen Jones says the campaign has been successful overseas.
“Unfortunately, dog attacks have been on the rise over the past couple of years in Wellington, so any initiative we can introduce which could reduce these incidents occurring is a good thing,” she said.
“The Yellow Ribbon campaign is an easy way to show that your dog just needs some space, and for other dog owners and the general public to take that into consideration when in close proximity.”
It’s important to respect your dog’s boundaries, and to communicate these boundaries to others, says Animal Control Officer, Damian Nunns, from the Council’s dog squad.
“Decreased interactions with others during the COVID-19 lockdowns meant that dogs were often separated from other dogs and people,” he says.
“This reduced interaction, mixed with an inconsistent routine, has contributed to some dogs feeling anxious and fearful of others, and we know when dogs are scared they can lash out.
“The yellow ribbon doesn’t mean the dog is classed as aggressive, those dogs are already required to wear a muzzle – it’s just giving them some room to breathe.”