If You See A Service Dog...
while it’s working:
- talk to the person and not the dog. the dog could be trained for any variety of jobs, most of which that it needs to be paying attention constantly for. if it becomes distracted during a crucial time, it could quickly become unsafe for the person it is aiding.
- don’t pet the dog. you probably shouldn’t even ask to pet the dog in the first place because it is working. if the person tells you you can, then it’s okay.
- don’t make kissy noises or snap your fingers at the dog. dogs with less experience, and even ones with years of training, can still be easily distracted.
- don’t offer treats or food to the dog. the dog is likely trained to ignore food or treats unless given to them by their person. this could break their training and teach them habits they have already unlearned.
- if you have a dog, even if yours is really friendly, don’t let them approach the service dog.
- don’t ask the person why they have the dog. people’s disabilities and other conditions are personal, none of your business, and you have no right to know. you also shouldn’t ask them to prove their dog is a service dog by having it do some task. every dog is trained differently, and for different tasks and you still have no right to know.
- don’t interact with the dog or person, even if you think you’re helping. ask first. don’t pick up the leash or move their other items without permission.
- don’t draw attention to the dog by shouting ‘look a dog!’ or pointing. the dogs are essentially medical equipment, like a wheelchair or oxygen tank, and aren’t a spectacle.
- don’t take pictures of the dog, especially without permission. its rude to take pictures of anyone without asking, and service dogs are medical equipment that you shouldn’t be photographing in the first place. it’s awkward for everyone
i personally don’t use a service dog, but my best friend cj does (he asked me to write this post for him), and we encounter all sorts of things every day. doing the above makes it easier for the dog to do its job.