Subscribers | Charities Management magazine | No. 147 Late Autumn 2022 | Page 3
The magazine for charity managers and trustees
Spelling out a simple message is key to Yellow Dog UK’s success nationwide.

Making an impact with a simple message

Have you ever felt real fear in a public space? Just like us humans, sometimes our four-legged friends need a little space when out and about. Of course it’s wonderful to see healthy, happy dogs but for some dogs who are poorly, recovering from surgery or who have been subjected to bad living conditions, the world can present a frankly terrifying experience. That is why our charity Yellow Dog UK was created. We provide a simple method by which owners can mark their dogs as needing extra space.

Yellow Dog was originally developed by Eva Oliversson, a certified dog behaviourist and trainer in Sweden in June 2012.  She discovered a dog trainer in Australia had been using yellow ribbons to signify a dog needed space.  It was the answer Eva had been working toward – she knew if a dog felt safe and secure and had its own space it could help with training and socialising. 

Fantastic idea

Eva contacted a group of doggy related companies around the world to host the campaign in their respective countries.  At the time my partner Dave was running a dog boarding agency, and as soon as he found out about Yellow Dog he recognised what a fantastic idea it was and quickly signed up.

We had experience ourselves with a nervous dog who had been attacked in our local park.  Before he was such a loving dog but following the attack he was petrified of other dogs and he didn’t like men at all.  It was a long road back, physically and emotionally for him. We knew we had to rebuild his confidence and get him to learn how to re-socialise, but it needed to be on ours and his terms. He needed his own space to do that.

We launched Yellow Dog in November 2012 at Discover Dogs in London and we have grown in leaps and bounds over the last ten years. We are supported and sponsored by councils, vets, dog trainers and police forces, and we sell and donate various different yellow items for dogs to wear, including dog vests, leads, lead covers and tabards for humans!

Yellow ribbon

Yellow Dog UK works simply by placing a yellow ribbon on the lead or a yellow bandana or vest, or lead cover on the dog to signify that they need to be left alone. Our mission is to make this very simple method of identification both accepted and recognised across the whole of the UK benefitting everyone and making dog walking a more enjoyable experience.

Despite being a small charity we have been able to make a nationwide impact. We have exhibited at Crufts and Discover Dogs, as well as many other prominent dog shows including All About Dogs and Paws in the Park. We are based in Kent but we try to make ourselves as visible as possible across the UK by attending dog shows.

The combination of exhibitions and a social media presence helps to spread the word. More recently we are working with a social media guru who has helped to point us in the right direction and a PR company which has opened the door for us to online and hard copy magazines, as well as radio interviews (which are scary!)

Part of the impact we impact make can involve working with sponsors and partners. Yellow Dog UK offers sponsorship opportunities for a fee. Sponsors include local councils, vets, dog trainers and police forces including Humberside Police, Centre of Applied Pet Ethology, National Association of Pet Sitters and Dog Walkers (NARPS), British Dog Fields, Heal The Dog, Dog First Aid Merseyside as well as many others.

Product packaging

We are also partnering with pet healthcare company Mark & Chappell – we can be found on the product packaging and website for their SERENE-UM range which in turn opened the door for us to be a presence in various pet stores, including Pets at Home and Jollies.

Having a strong online presence can be a really useful way of reaching out from a small base. As well as exhibiting at various dog shows we also have a well visited website, 100,000-plus supporters on Facebook, a growing Instagram following and we sell our products on several different platforms: our website via our online store, eBay and Amazon.

Taking advantage of being able to learn all the time is a key aspect of developing a charity. As I mentioned before my partner David Lewis owned and ran a dog boarding agency. I had no experience at all within the pet or charity sectors - and it has been a full-on learning curve, for both of us really, running Yellow Dog UK. Previously I worked as a legal PA working for senior partners in a law firm – I therefore had plenty of experience working within strict deadlines and rules.

Sharing experiences

Every external show we exhibit at we learn something new – the first time we exhibited at Crufts it was a daunting affair but once you’ve been there a few times you start sharing your experiences with other new exhibitors, from setting up to breaking down, to where to stay!

I now do the books, as well as the day to day running of the charity which can include contacting dog rescuers to see if we can help in any way, to adding new items to Amazon shopping. Literally every day is a learning day!

One of the challenges in setting up the charity in the UK and managing to make an impact has been dealing with infringers. Quite quickly after setting up the charity various sole traders suddenly appeared on eBay and online stores copying our products and we have had to take one or two to IPEC (Intellectual Property Enterprise Court). All our logos etc are trade marked and this is essential – we don’t want people who need our products buying inferior items.

Legal advice

We are insured and when we set up the charity we sought legal advice on how the yellow message could impact our customers. We try to keep all our products as cheap as possible so that anyone who needs one of our items can afford them, and if they can’t afford them we will donate.

The essential ingredient in making an impact as a charity, including working successfully with sponsors and partners, is to have a simple message. And our message is quite simple. We fully encourage responsible dog ownership and we support that it is imperative to socialise dogs for their wellbeing and development. However, we also recognise that there are times and circumstances when a dog needs space and we offer a way of making other dog owners aware of this.  

We hope that the campaign will encourage dog owners to recall their dogs when they see a dog wearing a yellow ribbon or other yellow sign, giving that dog and its owner time to move out of your way and to get him used to people and animals.

We work with all our sponsors and partners to promote the Yellow Dog message that “Some Dogs Need Space”. We provide a sponsorship pack including ribbons, leaflets and posters and we allow all our sponsors and partners to use our logos and any information they need from our website.


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