Do you have an anxious dog and get frustrated when other dogs approach them, jump on them and stress them out?
When owners say, ‘It’s ok, they’re friendly,’ or, ‘They just want to play,’ or ‘They need telling off.’
If so, Sarah Jones’ story is one you will want to hear.
When her Cocker Spaniel Bella became anxious and reactive, Sarah went on a mission not just to help her own dog but thousands of others and their owners.
She set up My Anxious Dog, creating products ranging from stickers to go on wheeliebins to hoodies, harnesses and leads.
Emblazoned with the words Anxious and Keep Away, Sarah’s products spell it out loud and clear that anxious dogs need space.
And in on March 20th 2022 she started the first National #DogsInYellow day to spread the message far and wide.
It now runs every year and has helped thousands of anxious dogs and their owners live happier lives all over the world.
Her mission is for people to have consideration for others and take the stress away for anxious dogs and their pet parents.
In this episode, you can learn all about Sarah and her work with My Anxious Dog and you can listen in on the player link below or read the key points as a blog post.
Hi Sarah can you tell me about your pet business?
“I’m the founder of My Anxious Dog which provides award-winning high quality, yellow space awareness products for anxious dogs.
“I’ve been doing this for eight years now after leaving the electronics industry.”
So how did My Anxious Dog come about?
“When I got my Cocker Spaniel Bella in 2012, she was very good and learnt very quickly in puppy classes but I didn’t realise she was an anxious dog.
“She’d ‘tell off’ other dogs who got too close and sadly, she was attacked by another dog who crashed into her while we were at flyball.
“From that moment she didn’t like other dogs at all, or other people touching her.
“She started snapping because of her pain and anxiety which we had officially diagnosed by her vet and behaviourist.
“I knew I needed something that would be clear to people and their dogs that she needed space.”
How did you find out about wearing Yellow as a way to tell people she was anxious?
“One of the behaviourists we worked with told me about the Yellow Dog Project, where you tie a ribbon to your dog’s collar or lead.
“But when you have a pretty dog a ribbon has no impact at all, people still want pet and stroke them, so I knew I needed something more.
“So I started to design my own products.”
How did this turn into a business?
“It started with the lead, which for Bella said ‘Do Not Touch’ and then we did the ‘Anxious’ lead to give a less direct message.
“Both were in yellow with black writing on, and very bold, so the message couldn’t be missed.
“Then I designed harnesses, now we have two types as well as raincoats, jumpers, sweatshirts and T-shirts.”
How did it grow from there?
“At first I was a bit embarrassed. I felt like I was telling people Bella was a naughty child, but it helped up both, people keeping back.
“Someone said to me, ’It’s like being your dog’s superhero, putting their little yellow cape on and protecting them.’
“The problem was people didn’t recognise it so I needed to build awareness.
“I started to design stickers and posters and speaking to places like vets and the council to see if I could share them in the community.
“I also used Facebook and social media to share about what dogs in yellow means.”
You’re a one-woman crusade! What’s been the impact for other anxious dogs?
“I’ve had some great feedback, people have phoned me up to tell me their personal stories and how it is helping them.
“People say they had stopped going to so many places because their dogs were reactive but they feel confident with them wearing the yellow.
“So their world has opened up again. They can enjoy walks again and it gets the message their dog isn’t aggressive, just scared.”
And you have a whole community now?
“My group Anxious Dogs UK has 12,000 members and is a space for people to share stories, tips and advice.
“We have help from trainers and behaviourists and a Yellow Army group for people who want to learn how to raise awareness about dogs in yellow.
“We aim to get out in the local communities and raise awareness but also get press coverage for individual stories too.”
What has worked the best for you when it comes to reaching people far and wide?
“Having support has given me structure and an order to do things, starting with social media.
“I learnt how to pitch to the press and after hearing about National Days I knew this was something I had to do for My Anxious Dog, so created Dogs In Yellow day.
“The big thing we’ve achieved is to give people a good platform to raise awareness and celebrate their dogs wearing yellow.”
Read an updated post about the impact of Dogs in Yellow Day on my pet blog: Dogs in Yellow need space and Sarah Jones is on a mission to give them it!
What press coverage have you had for My Anxious Dog?
“I’ve been on Team Dogs on their website and Bella’s been Star of the Week in The Sun. Plus, my local paper, radio and website.
“She’s also been in Take A Break magazine and I’ve had some interest from journalists about our awareness day too!
“I’ve also been in a few other podcasts, one with Canicross Conversations and another one with Niki French about dogs in yellow and have more high profile podcasts coming soon.”
So, what’s next for My Anxious Dog?
“There’s a couple of new products lined up but I have a few things on the go including partnering up full time with my local rescue centre!
“In the summer I’ll be able to launch an affiliate scheme for dog trainers to get involved in the range too.
“And of course lots of awareness raising and Dogs In Yellow Day on March 20th.”
Links mentioned in this episode:
Visit Sarah’s website: www.myanxiousdog.co.uk
Follow My Anxious Dog on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/myanxiousdog
Join the Yellow Army Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/215979409295118
If you enjoyed this episode, you might like In the spotlight with Katie Gwilt The Kat Lady or In the spotlight with Karen Rhodes from Luxury Dog Hampers and Kerry Jordan on how National Dog Photography Day went viral.