Service & Guide Dog Etiquette

Service & Guide Dog Etiquette


Things to Remember:

  • Service dogs are assistance dogs for people with disabilities other than blindness. They are specially bred and trained for this most important job.


  • There are several guidelines people should follow when a guide or service dog is present so that the dog and the handler remain safe and the dog can focus on its job. Disregarding these guidelines can distract the dog, which can create a dangerous situation for the service dog team.


  • Under the Americans With Disabilities Act, people with disabilities are allowed to be accompanied by their service dog in all places the public is permitted.


Don’t touch, talk, feed, or otherwise distract the dog while he is wearing his harness or vest that identifies him as a service dog. As much as possible, ignore the presence of the dog.

Do allow the dog to concentrate and focus on its work for the safety of his handler.


Don’t pat the dog on the head. Ask permission first, but don’t get offended if the handler says no. The dog (or handler) might be having a bad day, or he might be in a hurry. Remember, a service dog is as vital to a disabled person as a wheelchair or cane. You wouldn't ask to pet their wheelchair or get mad if they wouldn't let you pet their cane.

Do stroke the dog on the shoulder area but only with its handler’s approval.


Do teach your children to NEVER pet a strange dog – any dog – without first asking permission.

Do teach them to follow your lead.


Don’t treat the dog as a pet.

Do give it the respect of a working dog.


Don’t give the dog commands.

Do allow the handler to do so.


Don’t try to take control in situations unfamiliar to the dog or handler.

Do assist the handler upon her request.


Don’t feed the dog – this includes dog and people food.

Do respect the handler’s wishes.


Don’t tease or abuse the dog. This includes barking, meowing, whistling, and making other rude noises.

Do allow it to work or rest undisturbed.


Don’t allow pets to challenge or intimidate a service dog.

Do allow them to meet on neutral ground when all parties can be carefully supervised.


Don’t allow the dog on your furniture or in areas of the home where the handler doesn’t want it to go.


Do ask the handler to correct any misbehavior or trespassing.

Don’t let the dog out of the house unsupervised. It is a very valuable animal! 

For more information on Guide Dog Foundation, click here.


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