Information about Service Dogs

You see them in restaurants, grocery stores, maybe even on an airplane, usually wearing a brightly colored vest. They are service dogs, also known as assistance dogs, trained to help people with disabilities. Service dogs are often known by names associated with their task.

  • Guide Dogs assist people who are blind or visually impaired
  • Hearing Dogs alert the deaf or hearing impaired to sounds such as door bells, smoke alarms and alarm clocks.
  • Mobility Dogs help their handler in performing tasks, such as opening doors, picking up objects and pulling wheelchairs, or with the aid of a special harness, provide stability to a person who has difficulty walking.
  • Seizure Alert Dogs notify their person that a seizure is imminent so that they can take medication, call for help, or get themselves to a safe place; or assist during a seizure.

When we encounter a service dog in public, we should assume they are assisting their owner. The basic rules for interacting with service dogs are:

  • Always speak to the person first.
  • Do not try to distract the dog or offer food
  • Never touch the dog, or any dog for that matter, without first asking permission.
  • It’s not polite to ask personal questions about the handler’s disability or otherwise intrude on their privacy.

We need to be especially considerate of people with service dogs. It’s not that they wouldn’t love to talk; it’s that we need to make sure we don’t interrupt their lives or their dog’s work.

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