Caring for your service dog in public can be tricky. When most people see a beautiful, well behaved dog their first reaction is to want to say hello and pet them. However; it is so important that we educate the public that our Service Dogs are not your average dog. These animals are our life lines in most cases and they should be allowed to do their job without any distractions.
We also understand it can be a little difficult to tell someone to not pet your Service Dog because you don’t want to seem to be unfriendly. But it’s vital that the people around you understand that your Service Dog is working and needs to be completely alert at all time. Caring for your service dog in public is important to reinforce their training and prevent mishaps that could cause them to miss blood sugar changes or other health related issues.
There are a few simple rules the professional trainers at SDWR would like to inform the public when it comes to caring for your Service Dog:
- Most Service Dogs are wearing a vest or jacket indicating that they are working. Please do not pet or make eye contact while she is on the job. It may not look like she is working but she is actually working hard to stay alert to your disabilities. You depend on your Service Dog to keep you safe and you need her to be 100% undistracted.
- Your Service Dog is considered medical equipment just like a wheel chair or an oxygen tank. She is allowed anywhere medical equipment allowed and should be treated as such. It is okay to tell people to please be considerate of my “medical equipment” and allow my companion to do their job in peace.
- It is important for everyone to understand that Service Dogs are protected by Federal Law. This simply means that your Service Dog can go ANYWHERE that you go. This includes restaurants and hospitals. There are absolutely no exceptions. Again, your Service Dog is your medical equipment. You need him to be with you at all times.
Letting people know these simple rules will not make you a bad person. You are simply educating the people that your Service Dog is not just a dog, he is a medical necessity. Most people probably understand that having to obtain a Service Dog is not a choice. I’m sure if the choice was yours you would choose to be completely healthy and free of your disability. While it’s not easy having a disability, your Service Dog can make the journey a little more tolerable.