When you have a service animal, going out in public can be extra stressful because your service animal may draw unwanted attention. People may confront you about why you are bringing a dog into their location, small children may try to play with it, people will pet it, and ask you personal questions about your disability, etc. Here is a quick guide on service dog etiquette and how to communicate this to others.
Do Not Touch or Distract a Service Dog
If people or kids approach your service dog and try to pet and play with it, you politely explain that your animal is working right now and helping you. Because it is hard at work, it shouldn’t be distracted. The same goes for if someone offers your service dog food or tries to talk to or pet your dog without your permission first.
Keep Your Dog a Good Distance from a Service Dog
If you are at the park and another dog owner approaches you and lets their dog bother your service animal, you can explain that your dog is a service animal and can’t play with their dog right now.
Treat Owners with Respect
Sometimes, people will be rude and try to refuse your entrance into a location or ask you questions about your disability. Remember, all you are obligated to tell someone is that you have a disability, and your dog is a service animal who performs tasks related to your disability. Your rights are protected by the American Disability Association, and you do not have to feel forced to share any more information about your disability if you do not wish to do so.
Seek Out the Owner if a Service Dog Approaches You Alone
If your dog is trained to find help if you faint or are unable to get help, make sure you communicate this to people you are around on a regular basis. Let them know that if your service dog comes up to them unattended, it is likely because you need help.
These are some of the basic rules of service dog etiquette you should know so that you can educate those around you. Most of the time when people bother you or your service dog, they simply do not know that your dog is working and should be left alone. Communicate your boundaries and what you need for you and your service dog clearly, and this will help make taking them out in public an easier, more enjoyable experience for the both of you.
Another helpful tool is a service dog letter of certification. This makes your service dog official, and you can easily get one at United Support Animal. Our friendly staff would be happy to work with you and get you a letter of certification. Contact us today!