A service dog is a type of assistance dog specifically trained to help people who have disabilities including visual difficulties, hearing impairments, mental illness, seizures, diabetes, autism, and more.
Desirable character traits in service dogs typically include good temperament, obeys commands and in good health (including physical structure and stamina). Service dogs are often trained and bred by service dog organizations. Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds, and Golden Retrievers are the most common breeds used as service dogs, but any breed or mix of breeds is capable of being a service dog, though few dogs have all of the health and temperament qualities needed. Such a dog may be called a “service dog” or an “assistance dog,” depending largely on country. Occasionally they are incorrectly referred to as “Seeing Eye Dogs”; this, however, refers to a specific organization and not to all Guide Dogs.
The following list of recommendations is for when meeting or interacting with an Service Dog team in public. This same etiquette applies to Service Puppies in training.
DON’T…distract the dog from their working position by calling, clapping, or offering food.
DO…allow the Service Dog to serve as a working partner without distraction.
DON’T…attempt to pet or touch an Service Dog…this also applies to your children and dogs;
DO…speak to the person…not to the dog when greeting an Service Dog team.
DON’T…be insulted if your request to pet the Service Dog is not granted;
DO…understand that releasing the dog to greet you might distract the dogs attentiveness to their partner.
DON’T…automatically tell the person that there are no dogs allowed.
DO…ask if the dog with them is an Service Dog. If they say yes…no further access questions are necessary.
DON’T…assume that the dog is not an Service Dog because the person does not look disabled;
DO… observe the conduct and interaction between the person and the dog. If the dog is being attentive to his or her partner and functioning close to them, you are looking at the main characteristics of an Service Dog.
DON’T…try to distract a working dog, they need to concentrate on their handlers needs, let them do the job they have been trained for.
SERVICE DOG STANDARDS OF BEHAVIOR
Dog is clean and does not have a foul odor.
Dog does not urinate or defecate in inappropriate locations.
Dog shall not make unsolicited contact with members of the general public.
Dog’s conduct does not disrupt the normal course of business.
Dog works without unnecessary vocalization.
Dog shows no aggression toward people or other animals.
Dog does not solicit or steal food or other items from the general public.
Dog is specifically trained to perform more than one task to mitigate (lessen) the effects of its partner’s disability; said disability being any condition as described by and covered under the ADA that substantially impairs one or more major life functions.
Dog obeys the commands of its handler.
Dog works calmly and quietly on a harness, leash or other tether.
Dog has been specifically trained to perform its duties in public and is accustomed to being out in public.
Dog must be able to lie quietly beside the handler without blocking aisles, doorways, etc.
Dog is trained to urinate or defecate on command
Dog stays within 24″ of its handler at all times unless the nature of a trained task requires it to be working at a greater distance.
Service Dogs are medical aids, please respect the handlers wishes and don’t feel bad if the say no to your request to meet and pet their dog. Their dog is working, and after all, the handler is on a Disney vacation too!
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