• Emily

How To Interact With A Service Dog

What’s the best way to interact with a service dog?  1) Ask to pet the dog. 2) Lean down so the dog can smell your hand.  3) Tap the person on the shoulder so they know you’re there.  4) Softly call the dog.  5) Give the dog commands seeing what they know. I’ve had people do all of the above.  Some even go as far as barking, yelling, and running up to the dog.  Surprisingly, the best way to interact with any working dog is to just ignore them.  When you have a dog, you open yourself up to stares, not-so-quiet whispers, countless questions, stories about their best friends-grandmother's-next door neighbor’s dog, and so many more.  A quick run into the grocery store can turn into an hour long affair because everyone wants to ask questions.  At the same time, the opportunity to educate people everywhere I go about the amazing qualities and laws pertaining to service dogs is awesome.  I’m glad you think he’s beautiful, but so did the last 10 people I walked by just to enter the store, and everyone of them stopped to let me know.  This is especially important because many people with service dogs have disabilities that may become worse through being stared at and questioned creating a potentially harmful situation or triggering an episode.  Hopefully this sheds some light onto why just ignoring a service dog team isn’t rude at all...it’s actually the most respectful thing you can do.