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What You Should Do When You Come Upon a Working Service Dog in a Public Place (2015)

Brigadoon Service Dogs gives some words of advice.

1. Talk to the handler, not the dog.

2. Always ask permission before interacting with the dog in any way.

3. Do not sneak the dog food or pet the dog behind the handler’s back.

4. Do not ask the handler personal questions about their disability.

5. Realize that the handler may not allow you to interact with their dog. The handler does not want to hear you complain about it either.

6. Please do not tell your children that the service dog is mean or bites. A dog that bites should not be out in public.

7. If you have a dog with you, please do not let your dog approach the service dog without consulting with the handler first.

8. Please remember that some handlers may have ‘invisible disabilities that are not easy to spot like hardness of hearing, a visual impairment, or a developmental disability. Be observant and conscientious about how you respond when speaking to the handler – comments about a disability may not be welcome. A simple “hello” or “I noticed your dog and just wanted to say how well-behaved she is!” may be the best approach.

9. If you are told that the dog is working and you are asked not to interrupt, then be courteous and do not make any further attempts. Many dogs and handlers are just getting to know how to work together as a team and disruptions can make it difficult to get their chores accomplished.

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