Thousands of Americans, especially veterans, suffer from serious illnesses such as post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury. For many, a trained service dog is a vital means of recovery and their best hope for continuing a normal life. September is National Service Dog Month, raising awareness and showing appreciation for the amazing work service dogs do for the people in their care. This is also an opportunity to familiarize yourself with service dog etiquette.
Many do not know how to interact appropriately with service dog teams. Assistance dogs are not pets. When they are in public, they work. Often the physical and emotional safety of the handler depends on the behavior of the service dog.
American Humane is committed to harnessing the healing powers of the human-animal bond to help veterans through its Pups4Patriots program, and our trainers have paired dozens of veterans with life-saving service dogs. . As such, here are some service dog etiquette tips that a veteran with a service dog wants you to know:
• Talk to the handler, not the dog
• Do not ask what the service dog is for or why they need a service dog
• Do not pet or ask to pet a service dog
• Do not try to distract a service dog
• Do not offer food or treats to a service dog
• Do not let your dog approach an assistance dog
We hope the public will follow these tips to help ensure a safe and positive environment for all service dogs and their handlers.
Dr. Robin Ganzert
CEO and President of American Humane