Service and Guide Dogs provide an invaluable service for their disabled handlers. Each may stem from a special breeding program and undergoes training for this most important job. There are guidelines people should follow when in the presence of a Service or Guide Dog promoting the safety and wellbeing for all. Disregarding these guidelines can distract the dog, which can create a dangerous situation for the dog and its handler. Aside from the Americans with Disabilities Act, KSA 39-1103 protects the rights of individuals to utilize Service and Guide Dogs. Interference is a misdemeanor in Kansas under KSA 39-1103. Other states and commonwealths possess similar types of statutes to protect the safety and rights of Service and guide dog teams. For more information about Service and Guide Dogs, click here to visit our resources page.
- Please don’t touch, talk, feed or otherwise distract a working Service Dog.
- Do not let your pets freely roam neighborhoods, front yards, or other public spaces, something most communities, townships, associations, etc… mandate.
- Don’t treat the dog as a pet; give him the respect of a working dog.
- Speak to the handler, not the dog.
- Some handlers will allow petting, but be sure to ask before doing so. If allowed, don’t pat the dog on the head, stroke the dog on the shoulder area.
- Do not attempt to give Service and Guide Dogs commands; allow the handler to do so.
- Service and Guide Dogs team have the right of way. Don’t try to take control in situations unfamiliar to the dog or handler, but please assist the handler upon their request.
- When walking with a Service and Guide Dog team, you should not walk on the dog’s left side, as it may become distracted or confused. Ask the handler where you should walk.
- Many Service and especially guide Dogs receive training to walk on the left side of paths, sidewalks, streets, etc… This is for the safety of the handler, so permit them the right away.
- Do not allow your pets to challenge or intimidate a Service and Guide Dog. You should allow them to meet on neutral ground.
These pearls of wisdom originated from the Guide Dog Foundation’s Service and Guide Dog etiquette recommendations. Please visit this link to read the original. Also, consider donating to either the Guide Dog Foundation or America’s Vet Dogs. Both provide efficacious Service and Guide Dogs to individuals with disabilities.