Service Dogs: To pet or not to pet

How many of us have ever been out and about and observed a working dog in action? As dog lovers, our first impulse is often to show our respect and admiration by reaching out and petting these wonderful, selfless heroes or to verbally praise them — which is precisely what we should not do!

Remember, a service dog in harness is on the job and needs to focus on his or her duties.

Here are some guidelines to help you when in this situation:

  • Do not pet, call to, feed, or otherwise distract the dog
  • If you are in a car, do not honk or call out to the dog
  • Speak to the person and not to the dog
  • Do not touch the dog without first asking for and receiving permission. Always respect the handler’s wishes
  • Out of respect for the handler’s privacy, do not ask personal questions about the handler’s disability
  • Remember that guide dog teams have the right of way

The Federal Americans with Disabilities Act and State Laws permit guide dogs to go anywhere the public goes. That includes movie theaters, churches, hospitals, concerts, buses and grocery stores.

Service dogs perform an invaluable service for their owners/handlers and deserve our utmost respect!