Does your dog need a little space?

If so, grab a yellow ribbon and tie it to your dog’s leash or collar before heading out the door for a walk. Nancy Johnson, a county of Napa employee, is trying to raise awareness about the Yellow Dog Project, which aims to raise awareness about dogs that need a little extra room when outside their homes.

“It’s a worldwide awareness effort for dogs that just need some space,” Johnson said. “I have two dogs of my own that need a little space and wanted to help get the word out.”

The Yellow Dog Project, an international nonprofit, encourages owners of dogs with special needs to attach a yellow ribbon to the dog’s leash to alert others to make room for the animal. It aims to educate others as to the proper way to approach or avoid a strange dog.

Johnson said it poses problems for owners of anxious, injured dogs or dogs in training when another dog owner allows their animal to run up to the special needs dog, particularly if the second dog is not on a leash.

“Both of (my dogs) are rescues and one of them is blind,” Johnson said. “While very nice and friendly, if dogs just run and jump in her face, she can’t see that.”

Her second dog had “a very tough start to life” and gets very nervous when strange dogs run to greet her, which can lead to aggression, Johnson said.

“She just gets scared of other dogs running up to her,” she said. Even though a dog may have no issues with other pooches, Johnson said it’s best to be cautious and not let a dog run up to a strange dog, because that dog may have some issues.

Other dogs might need room for health reasons, if they are young puppies or if their owners are working to train them.

Since learning about the Yellow Dog Project, Johnson has purchased yellow ribbons from the project’s website that say “Please give me space.” She also bought yellow ribbon from Hancock Fabrics and is now working to distribute the ribbons to local pet stores, veterinarians and the Humane Society.

This Sunday dogs and their owners will be out in force downtown for the annual Walk for Animals. Pet lovers who want to help raise money for the Napa Humane Society will walk from Veterans Park through downtown and back to the park for a number of pet- and family-friendly activities. More information is available at

Johnson said the Yellow Dog Project can’t work unless people are aware of what the ribbons indicate and respect them. More information is available at

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