Service Dog Guidelines

So, you know someone who is partnered with a service dog? You may not realize how much your support and understanding will help to make their relationship more efficient, successful, and productive. Below are guidelines which need to be followed closely.

  1. Please remember that a service dog is a WORKING dog, not a pet. As such it needs to be treated as a working partner.
  2. You may not realize it, but a service dog works almost twenty- four hours a day. Although it is given specific time each day to play, it constantly awaits the next command from its partner. Once a command has been given, the dog is back “on duty.” Sometimes you may not realize that the dog is working as ft lays quietly by its partners side, but that dog has been given a command to down and ignore all distractions.
  3. It is vitally important that you do not interfere with a service dog!!!! This includes petting, talking to, saying its name, making cute noises, or making eye contact with the dog. Why? Because by doing so you are jeopardizing the relationship of the team. By distracting the dog in any way you are causing the dog to break a command. They may move toward you, lose concentration, or direct their attention to you. When the dog has broken the command the human partner is then required to make a correction, which is NOT pleasant for the dog, to regain the behavior desired by the original command! You may also be creating a dangerous or unsafe situation for the dog and owner.
  4. Small indiscretions add up to BIG problems, maybe even a dysfunctional team which would no longer be given the privilege of working in public. It is VERY important that the dog’s attention and loyalty be directed toward its human partner and no one else!!!
  5. On rare occasions the human partner may give the command “go say hi”, which allows the dog to briefly socialize with a person. This will not be done during the first six months of a partnership and will only be done when the dog is out of harness. After six months it is at the discretion of the human partner whether this will be allowed. You should never ask for this to happen. If this privilege is given, please keep socializing calm and restrained. The dog may not jump around, roll over, etc.
  6. A service dog is with its owner 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It is -essential to the success of the team that the dog not be separated from its human partner. Realize that the dog will now be included in all activities that the recipient takes part in.

Please respect the value of this team and do not ask to be exempt from the above guidelines! By doing so you are creating an awkward and difficult situation for both the dog and the human partner.

Special notes for family members:

  1. We realize that the addition of a service dog into your household is an exciting event for everyone. Please remember that although this dog will become a loved and vital part of the family, it is the disabled family member’s dog.
  2. It is important for the human partner to be responsible for as much of the care of the dog as is humanly possible. Certain physical tasks such as nail trimming may require assistance but it is the responsibility of the service dog recipient to make sure that this is done as needed.
  3. The dog should be on leash attached to the owner about 95% of the time. It should not be roaming the household or hanging out with other members of the family. It works for its owner and needs to be ready and available to do that at any time. Please do not encourage the dog to leave the owner’s side to visit with you.
  4. It is up to the recipient to determine when the dog’s behavior warrants free time to play or relax. After the first six months of a partnership, you may be permitted to interact with the dog during this time; but how, when, and if this will occur is at the discretion of the recipient.
  5. If a recipient is ill and can’t take their dog outside, they may ask you to do so, but this should be completely a “business trip” and the dog should be returned to the recipient’s side as soon as possible.
  6. Seizure alert dogs must remain with their human partner during and immediately after a seizure.

Please know that the first twelve months of a placement are the most difficult. Both members of the team are getting to know and respect each other. This takes time, concentration, and energy. Please be supportive as they struggle through this period and allow them the time and space they need to develop their relationship.

If you are asked to help with the exercise or care of the service dog please follow the rules below:

  1. NO PEOPLE FOOD!!!! Of any kind, of any size, or at any time!!!!!!!!
  2. No dog treats unless you give them to the human partner to give the dog at an acceptable time. Some dogs are on special diets and food treats used in training will loose their value if the dog has free access to treats.
  3. Do not give the dog any commands or ask it to perform any service tasks unless specifically directed to do so by the recipient or trainer.   You are not trained to do so and confusion may lead to the deterioration of a skill.
  4. If you are walking a service dog for the human partner do not use any obedience commands with the dog. However, do expect it to walk on a loose leash with no pulling. The dog should wear a halti or pinch collar, as determined by the recipient. If the dog should pull simply stop moving and say, “walk nice”. Never move forward while the dog is pulling, as mis teaches them that pulling is an acceptable way to get from one place to another. If you have difficulty with the dog’s behavior you should notify the owner immediately for guidance and help.
  5. Do not jump in to help a team unless the person specifically requests assistance from you.

By following the listed guidelines and rules you are helping to assure the success of the service team. In return you will enjoy watching as the team performs and functions more independently both at home and in public. Your respect and consideration for their needs will be deeply appreciated!!


One Response to “Service Dog Guidelines”

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