Urinate or defecate inappropriately. If a dog isn’t house trained, she doesn’t belong in public, Service Dog or not. For younger Service Dogs in Training, outings should be short enough to provide plenty of opportunities to make trips outside. “Accidents” are one of the few reasons Disney can exclude a Service Dog team and there are no excuses for having a Service Dog who isn’t house trained. On very, very, very, very rare occasions, a Service Dog may truly be sick or have an upset belly and an accident is unavoidable, but those occurrences are definitely an exception and not to be expected from Service Dogs.
Whine, bark, grumble, growl or make other noises. Although Service Dogs will bark to alert their handler of a medical related issue, this is usually rare, Service Dogs are often trained to alert without distracting others, only when the Service Dog’s handler is having a medical emergency should a Service Dog begin barking loudly.
Pick food or objects up off the floor or steal (or even show much interest in) food or items that are sitting out. Exceptions to the “picking objects up off the floor” rule include dogs who retrieve dropped items for their handlers or who are otherwise doing trained task work. In general, though, Service Dogs should not interact with distractions or any kind unless cued to or otherwise working.
Sniff cast members, patrons, floors, tables, counters, surfaces, products, shelving or anything else unless the Service Dog is performing specific, trained task work, such as detecting allergens or other substances dangerous to their handler.
Drag or pull their handler for any reason, unless the dog is performing specific mobility-related task work for their handler as evidenced by the presence of a brace mobility support harness, other task-related gear or wheelchair assistance harness. A Service Dog’s behavior should never appear “out of control,” and there’s a huge difference between a Service Dog providing counter-balance for their handler by leaning into a harness and a dog who is simply dashing here and there and yanking their handler towards distractions.
Wander or move widely out of heel position unless cued to by their handler. While Service Dogs aren’t robots and can’t be expected to maintain exact heel position at all times, neither should they range widely enough to infringe on the space, movement or rights of other patrons or teams. Service Dogs should be responsive to their handler’s movements and focused enough to readily move with him/her without significant lags or delay. Service Dogs should not be so engaged or engrossed with the surrounding environment or distractions that they give the appearance of wandering, daydreaming, ignoring or of just being generally untrained.
Break “stays,” “unders,” or other fixed-position behaviors to investigate distractions, explore or other move around. Exceptions include Service Dogs who must perform task work that requires them to take the initiative to respond to their handler’s disability regardless of location or position or to retrieve assistance/medication/help. The Service Dog’s decision to break position or disobey a “stay” should be a DIRECT result of specific, trained task work. Again, there’s a huge difference between a dog who gets up because they’re bored or distracted and a Service Dog who’s obviously responding to their handler’s disability.
Be anxious, antsy, agitated or aggressive in any way, shape, form or fashion. A Service Dog should never make anyone interacting with her nervous or afraid because of her direct behavior. Some people are afraid of dogs or intimidated by large, dark or certain breeds of dogs, but a Service Dog’s actions should NEVER contribute to that fear. Dogs who are anxious, on edge, reactive, fearful or aggressive in ANY way do not belong in public and especially not as a Service Dog representative.
Stink, smell or appear unkempt/un-groomed in any way. Like any medical aid, Service Dogs should be well groomed
Engage with other dogs, people, children or distractions unless allowed to do so by their human partner. The key here is “allowed to do so by their human.” There’s nothing wrong with allowing a Service Dog to greet a friendly child or dog if the handler is comfortable with it, but it should be the handler’s decision and choice, not the Service Dog’s. A Service Dog should not appear overly excited, unfocused, distracted, overstimulated or otherwise out of control. There’s no defined line in the sand on this one, but it’s easy to know once you see it.
Jump, scratch, mouth or exhibit other “out of control” behavior. A Service Dog should NEVER exhibit rude, ill-mannered, untrained, or behaviors that are considered inappropriate or nuisances. They should NEVER infringe on other patron’s personal space in a way that appears untrained or impolite. This includes laying their head on stranger’s knees, licking hands while passing by, or leaning against the legs of the person standing next in line. It’s not “cute,” regardless of whether or not the other person provides assurances they’re “ok with it.” A Service Dog should NEVER engage in any behavior or activity that could potentially be hurtful, harmful, leave a bad taste in someone’s mouth or cause the handler to have to apologize to the recipient.
If you’re out in public and you see a “Service Dog” engaging in “should not” behaviors and it’s readily obvious the dog in question is just generally ill-mannered or not well-trained, ask to quietly speak to a Cast Member or their Manager. Let the manager know that while federal law does require them to permit access for all Service Dog teams, they’re not required to deal with dogs who are not ready for public access yet, and that federal law allows them to quietly ask the handler to remove the dog from the premise. Don’t challenge the team directly, but by letting the manager know federal law protects their business’ and patron’s rights to not be molested or subjected to poorly behaved Service Dogs, you’ll be paving the way towards better access rights for well-trained Service Dog teams.
When business owners know they have a recourse for dealing with Service Dogs who, due to their temperament, manners or lack of training, obviously should not be working in public, there’s less backlash from negative encounters with dogs showcasing unacceptable behavior. Many business owners fear excluding a poorly-behaved team due to the “must provide access, period, or you’re breaking the law” statements touted by those who drag their substandard dogs around with them in public, and with every instance their business, clients or sense of control suffers due to a bad experience, the more all teams, even well-trained and professional ones, will encounter access challenges and issues. By providing the manager with the real facts concerning Service Dog access rights, you’re empowering him or her to respond appropriately to those individuals and dogs who negatively impact or affect the Service Dog community as a whole and who cause major problems and issues for any and all real teams to follow in their wake.
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