When You See an Assistance Dog

Assistance dogs provide a variety of services for the people they serve. They may be guide dogs for people with low vision, turn lights on and off, provide support for going up and down stairs, and so much more. They are specially bred and trained for the work they do, and one must never forget that, although they are loved, they are not just pets. These guidelines will help you know what is proper when you meet a service dog.
• Don’t touch, talk, feed or otherwise distract the dog while he is wearing his harness or service vest.
• Do allow the dog to concentrate and perform for the safety of his handler.
• Don’t treat the dog as a pet.
• Do give it the respect of a working dog.
• Don’t give the dog commands.
• Do allow the handler to do so.
• Don’t try to take control in situations unfamiliar to the dog or handler.
• Do assist the handler upon her request.
• Don’t walk on the dog’s left side as it may become distracted or confused.
• Do walk on the handler’s right side. For someone who is blind, you should be several paces behind.
• Don’t attempt to grab or steer the person while his guide dog is guiding him or attempt to hold the dog’s harness.
• Do ask if the handler needs your assistance and, if so, offer your left arm.
• Don’t give the dog people food.
• Do respect the handler’s wishes.
• Don’t tease or abuse the dog.
• Do allow it to rest undisturbed.
• Don’t allow pets to challenge or intimidate an assistance dog.
• Do allow them to meet on neutral ground when all parties can be carefully supervised.
• Don’t allow the dog on your furniture or in areas of the home where the handler doesn’t want it to go.
• Do ask the handler to correct any misbehavior or trespassing.
• Don’t let the dog out of the house unsupervised. It is a very valuable animal!
• Don’t pat the dog on the head.
• Do stroke the dog on the shoulder area but only with its handler’s approval.

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