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How To Act Around A Guide Dog Or Assistance Dog

People frequently ask us 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 fully qualified.

Autism Assistance Dog Wearing Identifying Jacket

Autism Assistance Dog Jacket

Identifying a Guide or Assistance Dog

A service dog is easy to identify as it will be wearing some form of jacket or a white or brown leather harness. The jacket will have branding or a design to identify it as an assistance dog. The handler is issued with an identification card for the dog and should carry it at all times when they are in public with the dog.

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.

Black Guide Dog in training is wearing a new bright orange coat. The coat is branded with the Guide Dogs Australia logo and the sponsor "Advance".

Guide Dog in Training Jacket

Can I Pat A Guide Dog?

Everyone, including children, should not distract a dog while it is working. The handler may be happy for you to touch the dog, but please ask permission before approaching the dog.

A Guide Dog Owner Needs Assistance – Can I Help Them?

By all means, but please be sure to ask them first. They may need some help with assistance – or they may be absolutely fine and not need any help.

Downloadable Resources

If you wish to download A4 or A3 posters for your school or group, you can find them here:

Downloadable How To Act Around A Guide Dog Poster

A4 Poster

Downloadable How To Act Around A Guide Dog Poster

A3 Poster






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