How to Act Around a Guide Dog or Autism Assistance Dog

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People frequently ask how to act around a Guide Dog or an Autism Assistance Dog. 

Autism Assistance Dog Jacket
Autism Assistance Dog Jacket

Identifying a Guide or Autism 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.
  • An Autism Assistance Dog will be wearing an orange jacket with text on it to identify it as an Autism 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 Dog or an Autism Assistance Dog. Each program is designed to create specialist skills to assist Western Australians living with low vision, disability or illness.

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 a Western Australian living with disability. In some situations, it could be extremely dangerous to both the Guide or Austism Assistance Dog handler and their Dog. 

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 labrador puppy in orange Guide Dog in Training jacket

Can I Pat a working Guide or Autism Assistance 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.

Downloadable Resources

Please download our Guide Dog Etiquette poster here.

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