All You Should Know About a Service Dog

Enter your text here..You will often find dogs out in public wearing vests. Most likely it is a service dog. The vest signifies that this dog is a working dog and is to be granted access to any public place that their handler is allowed to go. Find out more below!.

service dog

Service Dog wearing a Vest? DO NOT TOUCH!

I was taught when I was little not to taunt or touch strange dogs. This was for my safety because the dog could be bite...you can never be too sure about these things, right. However, now that I have entered the world of disabilities, I have found another reason not to touch strange dogs, especially if they are wearing a Service Dog vest.

Often, when you see a person and their dog, they are out walking and enjoying the fresh air. However, a person out with their dog may be "working". A Service Dog, often called a working dog or assistance dog, assists a person with visible and non-visible disabilities. These dogs are protected under the American's with Disabilities Act of 2010 (ADA). They have the right to accompany their handler anywhere that the general public is allowed to go. This includes restaurants, grocery stores, movies, airplanes and hair salons.

Don't Separate them !

According to the ADA, no one can separate a service dog from their handler. These dogs must be allowed to stay with their handler at all times, even through airport security. These dogs perform certain tasks for their handlers that allow them to be self-sufficient and must be available for the handler at all times.

The ADA does not require certification of a service dog nor does it require any form of identification from the handler. It only requires that the dog be specifically trained to carry out tasks needed by a specific person with disabilities. It is also illegal to represent a dog that is not a service dog as a service dog.

It is for this reason that many handlers have their service dogs wear vests. A Service Dog vest easily identifies a dog as a working dog with public access. A vest can be of any color, size and shape. They can serve the basic function of visual identification or allow the dog to carry items that the handler can't carry such as water bottles, keys, medical supplies and even small oxygen tanks.

Observing proper "Service Dog Etiquette" is important for those who come across a service dog. As stated above, do not touch or distract the dog, particularly without asking the handler. Don't just assume that the dog is a "pet" and yell or run up to it. This could easily put the handler and the dog in danger.

For example, our service dog is afraid of sudden, loud noises such as fire crackers or gun fire. While at Wright Patterson Air Force Museum, as boy who saw our dog purposely slapped his flip-flop sandal on the concrete floor making a very loud, echoing, popping sound. Seems like a simple situation, doesn't it? Just keep walking and the boy will stop, you say. Well, He had previously yelled at our dog so she was already nervous, allowing her attention to wander. He was just behind us when he made the loud popping and it scared our dog, making her want to bolt. This made for a very dangerous situation for our son. I always push his wheelchair and hold the dog leash because his hands can't hold onto it. I was pushing the chair in one direction at pace with the crowd. Our dog wanted to go in a completely different direction, FAST! If I wasn't half ready for this the pull of the dog could have easily tipped over his wheelchair and knocked us all to the floor.

Everyone must respect the meaning of a service dog's vest. It isn't enough to "know the rules", they must be observed. Don't be like the doctor who stood on the other side of the wheelchair and said "I know I am not supposed to BUT..." while reaching over my son to pet the dog. Just don't do it! For the safety of all...RESPECT THE VEST!

Service Dog Etiquette

Observing proper "Service Dog Etiquette" is important for those who come across a service dog. As stated above, do not touch or distract the dog, particularly without asking the handler. Don't just assume that the dog is a "pet" and yell or run up to it. This could easily put the handler and the dog in danger. For example, our service dog is afraid of sudden, loud noises such as fire crackers or gun fire. While at Wright Patterson Air Force Museum, as boy who saw our dog purposely slapped his flip-flop sandal on the concrete floor making a very loud, echoing, popping sound. Seems like a simple situation, doesn't it?

Just keep walking and the boy will stop, you say. Well, He had previously yelled at our dog so she was already nervous, allowing her attention to wander. He was just behind us when he made the loud popping and it scared our dog, making her want to bolt. This made for a very dangerous situation for our son. I always push his wheelchair and hold the dog leash because his hands can't hold onto it. I was pushing the chair in one direction at pace with the crowd. Our dog wanted to go in a completely different direction, FAST! If I wasn't half ready for this the pull of the dog could have easily tipped over his wheelchair and knocked us all to the floor.

Read more about The Best Dog Wheelchair​

Final Notes

Service Dogs help to keep people with disabilities as independent as possible. Do not disturb a service dog as they are must focus on their person and their needs, allowing them to function. Be respectful of that.

Dennis P. Baughman
 

Dennis P. Baughman is the Editor of UnbeatenRolling. His disabilities couldn't stop him to be self driven person. He started this blog to share his personal knowledge about all kinds of wheelchairs and different tips and advice about chairs.

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