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Happy International Assistance Dog Week: How Not to Be a Jerk to Working Dogs

It’s International Canine Assistance Dog Week! In celebration of all the amazing service dogs out there, here are a few basic etiquette tips. Remember, service dogs are DINOS – they need space to do their jobs! When you encounter a working team, please be responsible for your actions and respectful of their space.

Happy International Assistance Dog  Week



If you encounter a service dog and their handler, please keep these tips in mind:

1. Do not touch the dog.

2. Do not let your child touch the dog.

3. Do not let your dog approach the dog. This includes obeying leash laws and having your dogs under your control at all times.

4. If you want to do #1-3, you must ASK FIRST, then wait for their response. Speak directly to the person, not the dog. Treat the human with dignity, please.

5. Respect the handler’s response. If they say “no”, accept this and move on. It’s not personal. You have no idea what the handler is dealing with and they may not be able to safely interact with you or your dogs in that moment. Sometimes handlers will be happy to talk with you about their dogs and other times they won’t be able to do so. Have compassion (they need a service dog for a reason – not just because they’re cute) and allow them to carry on.

6. Do not distract a service dog by whistling, calling out, or offering it a treat. This dog is working and needs to keep his attention on his job. Distracting a service dog can result in the handler getting hurt.

Finally: Never, ever, fake a service dog with your own pet dog. Seriously. Don’t impersonate a service dog team so that you can fly your dog in the cabin or take them into Target with you to shop for sassy t-shirts. It’s ruining things for real service dogs and their people. Don’t exploit someone else’s hardship. It’s just not ok.

international assistance dog week

Purchase this retro-tastic print to raise money for IADW: http://www.cafepress.com/assistancedogweek


Want to learn more?

Please obey leash laws. Leash Laws keep Service Dogs Safe. 

Excellent etiquette tips from Please Don’t Pet Me

Know the Law. The Americans with Disabilities Act and the TWO questions business owners are allowed to ask.

Resources for people with working and assistance dogs: Working Like Dogs

International Assistance Dog Week resources. Celebrate in your community.

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9 Comments Post a comment
  1. Tracy Collins #

    Great post!!! Both as reminders and general information.

    August 6, 2013
  2. Great post and super timely. Did you see this piece in yesterday’s Huff Post Impact http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/05/fake-service-dog-certificates_n_3709720.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000009.

    August 6, 2013
    • Megan #

      Haha. I was just about to post essentially the same article from NYC blog, Gothamist.

      The article should start, “instead of leaving their dogs at home” rather than “instead of tying up their pooches to a lampost”. Maybe somebody should inform them of all the potential dangers of tying dogs to posts in a city.

      August 6, 2013
  3. Great reminders. Thanks!
    I’m glad you added the “finally”
    More and more I’m seeing people advise people to just slap a service dog vest on their untrained dogs to get into places where dogs would not normally be allowed.
    Even to get out of pet deposits.

    August 6, 2013
  4. My favorite video on the topic: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lXpXlc0a028

    August 6, 2013
    • Yes! I love that video. Thanks for reminding me about it. I’ll it share on Facebook again!

      August 6, 2013
  5. Just Sue #

    Excellent post! I have shared it on FB.

    August 6, 2013
  6. This reminds me of an article I saw yesterday about people in NYC claiming their dog was a service dog in order to take it places with them. Thanks for pointing out that people abusing the service dog status will only make things more difficult for those who actually *need* a service dog.

    August 7, 2013
  7. Reblogged this on Help On Four Legs and commented:
    I really, really, *really* like this post on Notes From a Dog Walker. I love that she said many things that I’ve been saying for a very long time. The word is getting out, friends!

    August 8, 2013

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