People frequently ask how to act around a Guide Dog or Assistance Dog. The guidance below is relevant to Guide Dogs and all types of assistance/service dogs, whether in training or working.
Identifying a Guide or Assistance Dog
Guide Dogs and those in training are easy to recognise. A white harness indicates that the Guide Dog is working with their owner. A brown harness indicates that the dog is in training with a Guide Dog Mobility Instructor.
An Assistant Dog will be wearing a jacket with text and a design on it to identify it as an Assistance Dog.
An orange “puppy-in-training” coat indicates that the Guide Dog puppy is learning how to behave in a range of environments.
Why Should I Leave A Working Guide or Assistance Dog Alone?
The dogs undergo a program of training, which could be either Guide Dogs for vision impaired people or Autism Assistance Dogs. Each program is designed to create specialist skills to help people with vision impairment or other conditions, to live independent lives.
It is important that dogs are not distracted in any way; whistling, calling, touching or feeding a dog while its working can undo months of hard work and training. This can cost thousands of dollars and delay the dog from being placed with someone who needs help. In some situations, it could be extremely dangerous to both the Guide Dog user and the dog itself eg. when crossing the road.
What If The Guide Dog Is Just Sitting Or Lying Down?
The dog may be learning to settle in a new or busy environment and should not be distracted. Even if it isn’t leading anyone, please do not approach them.
Can I Pat A Guide Dog?
Everyone, including children, should not distract a dog while it is working.
A Guide Dog Owner Needs Assistance – Can I Help Them?
By all means, but please be sure to ask them first.
If you wish to download A4 or A3 posters for your school or group, you can find them here:
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