Friday, May 24, 2013

Service Dog Etiquette

Re posting an older blog that I thought has some tips for when you meet a service dog team. All these things are always appreciated.

I get asked occasionally from people I meet about what proper service dog etiquette is. I have meet a great deal of people who have service dogs and agree that this etiquette can really make a difference in their lives. I think the etiquette really is helpful and show respect for the disabled person you may come across. These are some item I think fall under that category. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to comment. I never mind answering questions.

1. Do not distract the service dog from its job. That includes Kissee noises, barking, or any noises at the dog. Petting or calling to the dog.

2. Please understand if a handler will not let you pet their dog or stop to talk. Many disabled people live a very normal life and do not always have time to stop and chat. Some service dogs can become distracted when being petted frequently. This distraction could be deadly for a handler or have severe consequences.

3.Do not draw attention to a service dog team. Service dog handlers are trying to live a normal life as possible and people making a scene or pointing out the dog will not help. This can make a person feel very uncomfortable.

4. Do not feed a service dog without asking. Many service dogs have a special diet and might include treats as rewards for alerting and extra food may not be needed. Most service dog teams are trying to balance their dogs activity and eating habits with the need for them to stay on the lighter side. Extra weight will put stress on joints and hips which could mean a dog is retired sooner.

5. Treat the service dog handler with dignity and respect. Please when speaking to a service dog handler talk to them not their service dog. Asking a disabled person about their disability is not respectful and can make the handler uncomfortable. General questions are usually considered respectful because the person does not have to talk about their own personal issues. The service dog handler is trying to live a normal life and being questioned constantly can be invasive.

6.When offering help don't insist. A service dog team could be hurt if a car stops at a light and they are sight impaired and you wave them on instead of allowing the service dog to do their job. Sometimes a person will want to do things on their other times they may need help. If trying to help always ask just don't take a service dogs leash or try to guide the dog along.

7. Do not photograph or take pictures of service dog teams without permission. This can make a handler uncomfortable and draws attention to the team. They are trying to be treated like any other person would be treated.

8. If your a parent try to educate your children or other about service animals. Telling children about disabilities can be helpful. I know most people think I am not disabled because it is not obvious talking about hidden disabilities can be beneficial for all. Talking about service animals also helps children to understand that they are working and need to not be distracted.

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