Pet Safety – Service Dogs
We have posted numerous times about Guide Dogs and Service Dogs. We have discussed how they allow adults and children to be more independent, live happier lives, and in some cases just get out of bed each morning. Service Dogs come in all shapes and sizes and help their owners with any number of apparent and hidden issues. When an adult sees a dog wearing their working harness they know that the dog is not there to be petted or played with it is there to do a job. Children on the other hand are fascinated by dogs when they are out in public especially in areas you wouldn’t normally see a dog – a restaurant or mall for example and are likely to run up to the dog and want to say hello. This isn’t a good idea either for the child or the Service Dog.
Pet Safety – Teaching children how to behave around service dogs
- A Service Dog in harness is “on duty”, even when sitting or lying down.
- Please don’t pet, call out, or otherwise distract a working Service Dog.
- Allow the dog to concentrate and perform for the safety of its partner.
- Don’t forget, Service Dog teams have the right of way whether going into or out of a door, crossing the street, or walking around the mall.
- Please don’t feed a Service Dog. Diet and feeding times are strictly monitored to maintain good health and keep to a specific schedule.
- Speak to the person, not the dog! Let the handler / partner decide if a meeting is a good idea at that moment.
- Some Service Dog handlers may allow petting, but always ask first.
- Many people enjoy introducing their dogs and explaining how they work to help them. If they decline the introduction, please respect that.
- You should not ask what is wrong with the service dog’s partner / handler you can ask what the service dog can do. (Does it turn on and off lights, open the fridge, answer the phone, help cross the street, navigate in their office.)
Not all service dogs are used to being around children. The Service Dog’s Partner might not have children and might not have a lot of children visitors for the dog to interact with when they are off duty. It is very important to teach your children to ask before petting any dog but especially a service dog that could perceive a child as trying to get i the way of or disturbing their partner. Service Dogs are temperament tested before moving on to the more advanced training they need but that doesn’t mean that a child that comes running at them will be met with a wagging tails and kisses. When a service dog is in working mode they are protecting their partner from harm.
Service Dogs are not on duty all the time. When they are at home, they are very much family dogs doing exactly what your own family dogs do. They get lots of special attention to their health and well-being including special eye exams to make sure they they can help their person to the very best of their ability.