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Service Dog Etiquette Guide

Service dogs are becoming more and more popular, so the entire family needs to know how to act around these animals. People have service dogs for several different reasons, like they are visually impaired, in a wheelchair, or have epilepsy. Similar to a random person on the street asking about your private health information, it’s rude to ask an individual with a service animal why they need or have one. 

In Colorado, “Service animals are not required to be listed on a registry, possess paperwork declaring the animal as a service animal, or wear a service animal vest,” explains the City and County of Denver

So, refrain from your questions, and remember, never judge a book by its cover. 

  1. Do Not Touch
    These are working animals – not pets. Service dogs play a vital part in the owner’s well-being, and like all dogs, these pups love pats and scratches. These diligent canines are working hard, often doing things you might not even notice. Yet, going up to and touching these animals without permission can distract the dog.
  2. Keep Your Dog Away
    Imagine working on an important project, and your friend shows up and distracts you. This is similar to bringing your non-service dog near a working dog. Keep your pets at a distance, and always check with the owner first.
  3. Never Feed Them
    Generally, it’s a no-brainer not to feed someone else’s dog. But when it comes to service animals, it’s crucial. Oftentimes, these animals are on a tight feeding schedule and a strict diet. So, resist the urge to share your snacks – it’s for their own good.
  4. Seeing a Loose Service Dog
    If you’re walking and see a marked service dog without their owner, this probably means the owner needs help. If a service dog nudges or barks without its human, don’t just brush it off or shoo the dog away. Follow them, identify the situation, and, if necessary, call 911.

Overall, use common sense when you see a service dog and ensure the little ones in the family know the rules, too. 


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