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.
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.
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.