With more and more people challenged by Autism, Diabetes, and countless other disabilities relying on the assistance of a service dog, it becomes very likely that the general public will need to learn basic etiquette towards a service dog on duty.
As tempting as it may be to reach out and pet or interact with a gorgeous and intelligent animal, this first impulse is generally not the correct one.
The best way to show our respect and admiration for a service dog is to embrace the simple fact that these selfless heroes have a job to do and a handler who is depending on them to do it.
A great many of the disabilities that require a service dog are not easily evident and since most disabled people don’t readily share their challenges with strangers, we need to consider some simple guidelines when encountering a service animal that needs to focus on their duties:
- Refrain from petting or addressing a service dog without first asking permission from the handler.
- Never feed a service dog treats or other food without the handler’s permission.
- Don’t honk or call out to a service dog.
- Abstain from asking personal questions about the handler’s disability.
- Give a dog team the right of way in stores and outside.
- Keep your pets or other animals under control around a service animal.
- Speak to the handler and not to the dog.
The Federal American’s with Disabilities Act allows service animals full public access to restaurants, malls, churches, movie theaters, buses, grocery stores, taxis, airplanes, and anywhere else the public goes.
Service dogs are invaluable to many disabled individuals. The safety and livelihood of these people depends on their service animal being able to perform its job and tasks. Do your part.