To Pet Or Not To Pet A Service Dog?

With Summer just about in full swing, so are the festival and family outings. Yet, have you ever encountered a working service dog while out before? Have you ever tried to pet a dog and the owners tell you not to and you didn’t understand why? We’re here to help educate everyone about the jobs these special dogs have and why it’s best to leave them be and let them do their job.

What is a service dog?

Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties. Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability. Per the United States of Justice ADA Regulations.

How do you know if it is a service dog?

First off, a real service dog is a highly trained animal.

Service dogs are trained to assist the person, not protect them. They are trained to be quiet, not bark or growl, and they are never disruptive.

Some, but not all, service animals wear special collars and harnesses.

Some, but not all, are licensed or certified and have identification papers.

Can I Pet that dog?

No. Even if you’re second guessing yourself and think that it may or may not be working, it’s best not to pet the dog. Service dogs are highly trained to support another human being. If for one minute a service dog is distracted from their job anything could happen. Their owner could have a seizure and the dog would not be able to provide them the warnings needed to possibly save their life.

What is needed to train a service dog?

There are many programs that you too can help and support the world of service dogs. You can either train your own dog to be a service dog or train one for another needy family. Starting out early is best when beginning the process to train a dog. They should be at least 18 months old and has been consistently applying their obedience for at least 6 months in public areas. If interested in preparing your dog to become a service dog or a therapy dog, give us a call to schedule an in home meet and greet with one of our certified dog trainers. You can also see the different school based programs we can provide you and your family on our website.