Sarah Jones - The Yellow Army: Advocating for Anxious Dogs

Welcome to the Soul Touched by Dogs
Podcast, the show for dog lovers who

see dogs not as toys or tools, but
wise souls worth our respect and care.

I'm an Herrmann, and I'm your host.

I talk to poor some humans, people who
do great work for dogs and their people.

So come and join us for
today's conversation.

Anke: Hello, and welcome, Sarah.

I'm super excited to have you here.

Sarah: Hi.

Thank you for asking me.

It's, uh, a real pleasure.

Anke: Wonderful.

So, you know, before we have a closer look
at all these little cute little yellow

vests I can see you in the background.

Um, give people the bird's eye overview.

You know, 2 minutes where you're based.

You know, what's your What's
your business with dogs?

Sarah: Okay.


So, um, my name is Sarah Jones, and
I am, uh, the owner of MyAnxiousDog.

And I created a national awareness
day to go alongside alongside my brand

called, uh, hashtag dogs in yellow.

And I got into the world of
yellow because, um, of my

dog, Bella, who's now 11.

She's a cocker spaniel.

Um, and she literally had
anxiety and trauma from birth,

so it's all stemmed from there.

So I am able to tell you all about that.

But, um, because Bella became a
reactive dog with, um, several

things that happened to her when
she was young, Um, I decided that I

needed something more than training.

You know, I obviously went down
the road of training, seeing

behaviorist, and everything.

But I needed something visual
because not everybody understands

about reactive and anxious dogs.

Um, so, yeah, that's how I
got into the world of yellow.

I was told about, Um, putting a rip
a yellow ribbon on her lead, um,

which made her look even prettier,
which really didn't help she was

also reactive to people as well,
and it all just stemmed from there.

It all rolled into 1 big 1 big thing.

Anke: Love it.

Love it.

I kinda can't wait to unpack that a little
bit because, um, yeah, my my first dog

got But when he was 11 months old and
then and ever ever since, he was always,

like, you know, didn't quite trust other
male dogs and couldn't find spaces.

So I'm like, you're going, oh, I
wish something like this had existed.

And and people enough people
knew about it To also respect it

because that's the whole point.

You know, if the other person doesn't
know what it means, then there's no point.

So tell me a little bit about it.

So, Basically, if you put a a yellow
vest on your dog, that communicates

to other people to just, like,

Sarah: Stayed at Yeah.

So it started in Australia
back in, um, 2000.

So yellow is the official
warning color for caution.

Um, and in the horse world, which
I I'm not in at all, if you had

a kicking horse, I used to tie a
red ribbon on the back of a horse.


So that's where the yellow ribbon came
from, the mixture of yellow warning

color for caution and The ribbon idea.

So that's where it stemmed from.

But, obviously, a yellow ribbon
isn't clear to people, and it

can't be seen from a distance.

So it stemmed into yellow leaves,
yellow harnesses, things like that.

Back then, I'm talking, like, 10 years
ago, there was very limited product

around, and Bella was very reactive
To touch people's touch as well and

being a pretty dog, it was a nightmare.

Um, so I then decided that, um,
I designed my own product, and

so that's what I what I did.

So I designed a harness
with Um, keep away.

I wanted something simple, easy to
understand, and I didn't I didn't

care what people thought of Bella.

We do get go, oh, well, I don't
wanna pet people to think this

about my dog or that about my dog.

So I don't care if they stay away from
her or the dog stay away from her.

She's happy, and that's my concern.

Anke: I love that.

I mean, like, this is
something that comes up a lot.

It's the sense that we have to
be an advocate for our dogs,

you know, above anything.

You know?

Like, just because somebody wants
to come and pet the dog, it doesn't

mean we let we have to let them.

So what's your experience?

Do people like, what
is people's reactions?

Because sometimes, you know, we can
kind of make Like, we can worry about

an imagined reaction that is way worse
than what you usually have in real life.

So what's your reaction, or what
is people's reactions when, You

know, to a bell a yellow west.

Do people kind of like, oh, what is that?

Do people ask?

Do people respect it?

What's the reaction in general?

Back in

Sarah: the day, um, a long time ago, I I
found it really comforting, Um, because I

didn't see Bella's communication skills.

I wasn't a dog trainer or a dog
behaviorist, so I didn't even see

my own dog's Communication skills.

So then when I put the yellow
1, I felt like that was a way to

show what she was actually saying.

So People's attitudes are now are
really good, much, much better.

Um, and I would I would say probably 8 out
of 10 people now recognize what yellow is.

Um, but you do still get people that
say that, But I've had dogs all my life.

I'm good with dogs, you
know, the the usual.

Some people just go walk by and go, ah.

You know?

But You get a mixture a mixture of,
um, attitudes, but I found with the

once the National Awareness Day was
registered, then It it really took

off with, you know, being able to get
everybody involved, uh, in in that day.

So not only do people use Use the
hashtag on March the twentieth,

but we use it all the time now.

It's part of the brand.

Anke: And it is effective then.

So it does Make people stay away.

So does it say it, like,
directly on the actual vest?

Or or

Sarah: Um, Yep.


So I I have several people who
have different preferences.

So this this is a Y harness, um, and
it's, uh, a yellow padded harness.

It's a really good quality
harness, and it's got Anxious

embroidered down the sides.

Um, and this little collar, it's
got the yellow heart on there.

So because some people get really
embarrassed about using the yellow.

Um, and I always say it's not label.

It comes from love.

So the little yellow heart is
part of Part of our our brand.

Um, and then the other ones up
there have keep away on, but

we have all sorts of Messages.

We do lead slips, ignore my dog,
um, keep you distance, do not touch.

Anything and everything you can
think of without being rude.

Anke: Yeah.

I mean, the thing is you find
there's a different reaction if

it's if it says anxious, You know?

Versus, like, stay away meaning I
mean, it depends also on what if it's a

little fluffy doll or, you know, if I'm
coming along with my big Spanish master.

Well, as it is, people kind of see me
from a distance and grab their little

dogs and run the other way, which is
really my little revenge Or where all

the pain they gave me when I had a
little Leo and everybody kind of seemed

to feel the need to invade our Yeah.

So but, I mean, if I have a big dog like
that and I have this, like, stay away,

everybody would assume she's aggressive.

You know?


So versus anxious is like,
you know, does that matter?

Or, like, I guess it doesn't
really matter at the end of

the day as long as people stay

Sarah: awake.

It's down to people's preference.

I like to keep away.

I didn't have an issue with it.

But, um, some people do, And I and I
try and say to them, you know, your

dog is basically saying keep away.

Who do you love more?

That person, stranger over there,
or do you love your own dog?

You know, so I'd like
to keep for your dog.

If people think your
dog's scary, oh, well.

Just, you know, they'll
move on to somebody else.

It's not a problem.

Whereas It can make a huge
difference to your own dog.

So, um, but you can make
a little story up as well.

So Like I showed you my, uh,
wire harness with the anxious on.

Obviously, that says anxious, and then you
can use a A keep away lead, or you can use

a keep away harness with an anxious lead.

And then you can put Do not you know,
you can make a whole whole story up about

what your dog likes or doesn't like.


Anke: you.

I love I love that you can see the car.

Like, you can see it from a distance.

You know?


Because that's the thing that I found
when I was like, Iglia was sort of,

like, Cocker, Corgi kind of size.

You know?

So he wasn't a tiny dog, but he wasn't
big even though he thought he was.

But, I mean, you know, it's like
People would kind of like, they

could see you from a distance,
and I could see him getting tense.

And they'd be just like and
I would try and avoid and no.

A little bit of dogs just
wanna say hello and Yeah.

Go away.

You know?


So I think that I love the the the
the color because it, like, really

communicates it from a distance.

Sarah: Yeah.

It's the most visible color, um,
is the human eye yellow as well.

So yeah.


But we sell sweatshirts as well.

So If I go shopping, um, I can put
my sweatshirt on, which has got

dogs in yellow need space, you know,
and the amount of people around

the supermarket that have dogs.

It's just a great way.

You know, you don't necessarily
have to wear it dog walking.

You can wear it out to the pub,
to the cafe, you know, shopping.

It just really helps with awareness.

Anke: Well, that's like you are educating.

Like, by you wearing it,
you educate other people.

You know?

Because it's like people
with dogs without dogs.

It's like, it doesn't work unless other
people are educated to know what it means.

Sarah: Yeah.

So we we have, um, a Facebook group,
And I've got Facebook page, and

there's about 10000 people on both.

And people that use d yellow, we
call ourselves the yellow army.


And we go out there to educate others.

So yeah.

So it sort of ties in with because
everybody needs to Do a bit for

their in their own area, you see.


Anke: Love that.

I love that.

So what's your experience?

Do you think, um, in your experience,
If a dog wears yellow, let's say

it, is that tends to does it tend
to be, like, a temporary thing?

Like, while they are being kind
of train or maybe when they

have space, they can relax.

Is this kinda temporary or is,
like, once you're a yellow dog,

you're always gonna yellow dog.

Sarah: What's your experience?

It depends.

Some dogs have different issues
and and things like that.

Some people have used the yellow, and
And then their dog has gained confidence.


I've used it for 10 years nonstop.

And in fact, last summer, I forgot my
lead when we went to a friend's house.

My husband put Bella in the car.

When we were walking around the town,
I used her lead, which was normal.

I felt So vulnerable because
Bella looked like a normal dog.

Now Bella, you get fight or flight.

So Bella is not the sort of dog
that really cowards down or hides

behind me, she will just launch.

She will snap at someone or
growl at someone or she doesn't

always Every dog, it depends.

But so she can so she can be quite scary.

She looks very pretty, but
she can be quite scary.

So, obviously, for me, it was really
difficult when she first started showing

those signs, um, because someone could
say if if I wasn't paying attention,

She's bitten me because it sounds like it.

She doesn't.

But, um, so, for Bella,
she's always in her yellow.

It makes me feel better, Um,
and I think as well, when I

feel better, she feels better.

Anke: Yeah.

I was just thinking there is quite
a strong connection there as well.

Like, when you're more relaxed, Then then
you don't pass any stress onto her either.

So it's it it makes it easier for
her to kind of you know, I think

it's a double whammy for her.

You're more calm, and
other people stay away.

So she gets in space, and
she has you more relaxed.

So that makes it That makes
life easier for her for sure.


Sarah: Yeah.


So yeah.

So the mixture of the 2 I mean, she's
never forgotten Happened in a lifetime.

So she doesn't forget anything.

Um, and, uh, yeah.

So she picks and choose.

She can walk with other
dogs if she knows them.

She can be in the house with
other dogs if she knows them.

She will tell them But she doesn't wanna
play or have anything to do with them

initially, so we I have to manage that.

But, generally, she will then be fine.

Anke: Yeah.

Leo was like Leo had just like
he liked he liked girl dogs.

The bigger, the better.

Like, he always like, it was just male
dogs In confined spaces, you know, so

where there wasn't anywhere to go because
you'd be fine on the beach, for example.


You know?

But it's that same thing,
like, launched as well.

Like, he wouldn't hide.

Sarah: He just Yeah.

He just launched.


And it does sound scary, but
then that's how dogs Communicate.

And that's why I hate when
people say your dog's aggressive.


That's how a dog communicates.

We see that wrongly.

You know?

It's like She's just telling
the dog, the person, dog off.

You know?

That that's it.

That's how they talk and
communicate, and she's gone up to

a level where she's Now swearing.

Anke: I love it.

Love it.

Love it.

Sarah: But I I just compare it
to, You know, like, when we have

a row with our other half or Yeah.

Whoever, you know, we get to the point
where we shout like a dog like our dogs

will, But not very many actually punch.

You know?

And that's where the the different
level I would say is, you know,

you do get an aggressive dog
that then go on Dubai, obviously.

But, generally, the majority of
them, they're just communicating.

They're just shouting like
we do when we get frustrated.

Anke: Yeah.

And I think it's the same as we do.

It's it's they will communicate
more subtly way before that.

It's just that people
usually don't react to it.



And don't notice it and
don't pay attention.

And so, well, if you don't
understand it the nice way, then

I'm just gonna have to tell you some

Sarah: other way.


The amount of people that say,
but she's wagging her tail.


But it's really slow and low.


It's not happy work.

Anke: No.

I mean, that's the thing.

I think that misinterpreting The the
suckle science and, you know, like

like, with me interviewing people,
like, you know, like, oh, boy.

I've learned a lot.

So it's not like, you know, how
they are, and sometimes even just,

like, the reactive reaction the
direction of where an ear points.

And, like, there's so many things that
That they use to communicate, and and

we don't, like, we don't react to it,
well, they're just have to yell louder.


Sarah: No.

I I never knew it when I first
got her as a puppy, and I I'm that

person that said, oh, I've had dogs
all my life, but But I never knew.

Anke: Yeah.


I love it.

So where can people, uh,
go find out more about you?

If somebody wants a yellow harness, vest,
leash, Where can they go and and get

Sarah: that?

So my website is, um, my
anxious dog dot co dot u k.

Um, I've got a Facebook page
as well, which is MyAnxiousDog.

Um, and we're also on Instagram
as well, MyAnxiousDog.

So we're all under My anxious dog.

So if you just Google
it, I'm sure you'll find

Anke: us.

And we'll also put I mean, we're not
gonna make it that half of people

are gonna just pop the links right
right underneath or below, Below?


Well, anyway, just around
wherever people are watching it.

If it's on the podcast,
it's in the show notes.

So definitely, uh, Check it out.

Do you ship internationally so if somebody
from the States, uh, is listening?

So you do ship internationally as


Sarah: Yeah.

I've done from I've done loads in
America, Canada, to New Zealand,

to Australia, all over Europe.


It's definitely dogs in yellow
is definitely Spreading.


I love it.

Anke: Because I think, you
know, we all and our dogs

need a bit of space sometimes.


Sarah: Absolutely.

So do people.



Our 4

Anke: dogs.

Well, thank you.

Thank you so much.

Uh, so I literally I'm delighted
to be able to, you know,

help spread the yellow word.

The word.

So thanks for coming and, um, and

Sarah: sharing.

Thank you.

Thanks so much for listening.

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Sarah Jones - The Yellow Army: Advocating for Anxious Dogs
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