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  • Writer's pictureJenny Stamm

Service Dog Etiquette for Handlers

Updated: Feb 8, 2023

We’ve already talked about how the public should (or shouldn’t) interact with service dogs, but what about the service dog partners themselves? Are there any guidelines for how to act in public when you’re accompanied by a service dog? While there aren’t any strong rules about this, we thought we’d put together at least a few things you should keep in mind when in public with a service dog.

1. If your dog is not housetrained, they should NOT be in public places.

2. If your dog is sick, leave them home!

3. Service dogs do not belong in/on furniture (including shopping carts, benches, chairs, tables, etc.).

  1. There are a few exceptions if your dog needs to be on something to function (such as a dog having to briefly put their front paws up on a counter in order to deliver a wallet), but try to keep these as infrequent as possible.

4. When you are not moving (whether in a line or sitting down somewhere), your dog should be either out of the way (such as under you) or in a block position.

  1. Being in a heel position also works, of course.

5. Your dog should never jump on other people and should only jump on you if it’s part of a task.

  1. People expect service dogs to be well-behaved and most people consider jumping to be an uncontrolled behavior.

  2. If it is part of a task, be prepared for comments or dirty looks.

6. When people are rude, give nasty looks, or ask things they shouldn’t, do your best to stay calm.

  1. Remember, you may be the only service dog team these people have ever seen, so you represent service dog teams in their mind.

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