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Assistance Dogs - How To Behave Around Them

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You are likely to come across an assistance dog at some point. Any dog that is inside an area that doesn’t usually allow dogs  such as a shopping centre or hospital is likely to be an assistance dog. It’s important to know how to behave around an assistance dog and not distract them from their work. They are doing an important job and need to focus on what they have to do.

Recognised assistance dogs are trained to do a specific job, usually this involves helping a disabled person go about their daily life. Assistance dogs are endorsed by the Department of Health and are allowed by law to go in areas that dogs are not normally allowed. They have been temperament tested and trained to a very high standard so that they behave appropriately in public. Here are the organisations that qualify as assistance dogs in the UK:

  • Guide dogs
  • Hearing dogs
  • Canine partners
  • Dog A.I.D
  • Dogs for the disabled
  • Support dogs
  • Medical detection dogs

Contrary to popular belief assistance dogs are not supposed to be overly friendly. They are trained to ignore distractions and pay no attention to the people around them unless they are asked. They are all friendly, good natured dogs but when they are working they are focused on one thing only and that’s doing their job.

One of the main things you shouldn’t do is run up to an assistance dog and pet it. It is extremely tempting when you see them to go and make a fuss of them. However, this could take their attention away from their work. You can ask them owner of the dog if you can say hi to them but in most cases it is best to ignore the dog.

Under no circumstances should you feed an assistance dog without their owners consent. Like a dog, they may be on a special diet or be allergic to certain foods. Moreover, food is just another distraction that they don’t need.

Try not to make any loud or distracting noises that might startle an assistance dog. This isn’t nice for any dog and it could break their concentration.

Some dog owners also feel the need to introduce their dog to every single dog they walk past. Avoid doing this with assistance dogs. They are trained not to say hi to every dog they meet. They will probably just ignore your dog and carry on with their work. Keep your dog under control and on a lead.


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