Disability Etiquette

Disability Etiquette

General Information

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.