For additional information, please go to the United Spinal Association's publication 'Disability Etiquette-Tips on Interacting with People with Disabilities'.
Guide Dog Etiquette
While it's always tempting to pet and call to a dog, there are some very important guidelines to follow when in the presence of a guide dog for the safety of the dog and its handler:
- Please don't touch, pet, feed, or call out to a guide dog when it is wearing its working harness. A guide dog in harness is "on duty" even when sitting or lying down
- Speak to the person, not the dog.
- Always ask permission to pet the dog. Stroke the dog on the shoulder area, not on the head.
- When walking with the person, place yourself next to the individual rather than the dog. Your presence otherwise can be confusing and distracting for the guide dog.
- Sometimes a guide dog will make a mistake. If you see that the person may need help, please don't touch the harness. Ask if assistance is needed and, if so, offer your left arm.
- If in doubt about what to do, just ask the owner.