Assistance Dog Etiquette

Guide dogs are the guiding eyes for people who are blind or visually impaired and they are specially bred and trained for this most important job.

A person is reaching to pet a service dog. The handler is gesturing 'no'.

There are guidelines people should follow when in the presence of a guide dog to allow for the safety of the dog and its handler.  Disregarding these guidelines can distract the dog, which can create a dangerous situation for the dog and its handler.

  • Thank you for respecting me and my guide dog.  Your consideration and support let us live without boundaries. 

  • Thank you for not touching, talking, feeding, or otherwise distracting my guide dog while it is wearing its harness. Please allow my dog to work for our own safety. 

  • Thank you for not grabbing me, or my guide dog's harness to show us where to go.  Please ask me if I need your assistance and offer your left arm to guide us.  My dog's harness handle is like a steering wheel of a car; as my dog walks, I can tell which direction it wants me to go in through the harness handle. 

  • Thank you for speaking directly to me and not my friend, spouse, or dog. 

  • Thank you for not focusing on my disability. It's OK to ask questions, but sometimes I may be too busy to answer, or I may not want to talk about that part of my life. 

  • Thank you for keeping your children and pets under control around my guide dog.  Although my dog has been trained to ignore distractions, it still can be difficult for us to work within that type of environment. 

  • I appreciate that you pay attention when driving.  My guide dog is trained to disobey a command if cars or other dangers are in our path, but it's much safer for all of us when you are watching out too.

  • Thank you for supporting my right to be in public places with my guide dog to assist me.  It's very helpful when you and the public are aware about our civil rights under state and federal laws.

  • I understand that some people may have had bad experiences with dogs, but please know that you are safe around mine.  My guide dog has been trained to not be aggressive and in control at all times. 

  • Thank you for realizing that blindness doesn't mean I cannot see anything.  Many legally blind people have some usable vision, but it's not reliable.  That's why I work with my guide dog to get around safely. 

  • Thank you for supporting the Guide Dog Foundation and America’s VetDogs.  Whether you made a donation, raised a puppy, or volunteered in some other way, you have helped me and many others live without boundaries.