Veterinarian Service Dog Etiquette Tips: 6 Things You Should Know

Today we are sharing veterinarian service dog etiquette tips to help you to be more knowledgeable and more courteous when you next encounter a service dog team.

Veterinarian Service Dog Etiquette Tips: 6 Things You Should Know


If you are a dog lover then you may have experienced that feeling of being torn when you see a service dog out in public. The dog lover in you wants to reach out and pet the dog, but the common sense in you tells you that this is not acceptible behavior and distracting a service dog is dangerous and inconsiderate. Hopefully, you listen to that common sense. But did you know that there is more to service dog etiquette than ignoring that desire to pet a service dog? Let’s take a look at a few more veterinarian service dog etiquette tips…

1. Don’t Ignore a Service Dog’s Handler

If you’re an introvert who loves animals, you may often find yourself drawn to dogs but reluctant to speak with the dog’s owner. This is poor etiquette in any situation because it’s disrespectful to ignore anyone in any circumstance and you should ALWAYS ask before petting someone’s dog! But when the dog in question is a service dog, this creates another major problem – addressing a service dog distracts them from doing their job which can put the dog and the dog’s handler in a dangerous position. Ignoring a service dog handler can also give the dog’s handler the impression that they are being treated disrespectfully because of their need for a service dog.

If you come across a service dog team while you are out and about, smile and say hello to the handler and go about your business or, if the dog’s handler engages you in conversation, stop and chat as you would with anyone else, but keep your hands away from the service dog!

2. Be Understanding

If you’ve never seen a dog in a restaurant, it can be confusing the first time that you do and you may even feel that it’s inappropriate. It’s important to know that by law service animals are permitted in virtually all areas where the public is permitted – one exception being an area that would be seriously compromised by the presence of a dog, such as the I.C.U unit of a hospital. This accessibility to public areas by service dog teams is a right protected by law and it’s important that you respect that law and support the rights of service dog handlers and their dogs.

If you see a service dog team in a restaurant, don’t be loud or make a fuss, understand that this is simply an individual who wishes to access the same services as you and their service dog’s presence makes that possible. If the presence of a service dog in a restaurant bothers you, we recommend that you pay your bill and quietly leave. It is not appropriate to make someone feel marginalized or to deny them a right protected by law because you are uncomfortable.

3. Respect That a Service Dog is Working Even When They’re Napping

If you happen to see a service dog team and the dog’s handler is sitting quietly and their dog is napping, don’t assume that the dog is off-duty or that it’s okay to approach and pet the dog. Service dogs have a wide variety of jobs and just because a dog is napping it doesn’t mean that they aren’t “on the job”. Even a napping service dog is aware of their surroundings, conscious of their handler’s presence, and react to act if the situation demands it.

4. Teach Your Children to Respect Service Dogs

It’s important to teach your child not to approach or engage with a service animal, but it’s also important to explain to them why. This will help to foster respectful behavior as well as give your child the opportunity to ask you questions that they may have. It’s a great idea to do this at home with the help of educational websites that can show your child the type of jobs that service dogs perform for their handlers as well as what it is and isn’t okay to ask handlers of service dogs.

If your child does have questions (that are not personal in nature) when they meet a service dog team and the dog’s handler is not busy try asking them politely if they would mind answering your child’s question. Some service dog teams welcome questions because it helps them to spread awareness and understanding, but if the handler would rather not answer questions or if they are busy, tell them that you understand and respect their space.

5. Keep Your Distance if You Have Your Pet With You

If you meet a service dog team while you are out with your own dog, keep your distance. While service dogs are trained to ignore distraction, your own dog may not be so disciplined and this can cause difficulty for the service dog who is trying to do their job. Imagine trying to do your job with a toddler trying to get you to play every few minutes!

6. Don’t Assume a Service Dog Team Needs Your Help

Service dogs are very well trained to perform tasks that their owner needs help with. When you see a service dog team in public, don’t assume that they need help to do something just as you wouldn’t assume that any other person would need help. If they do seem to be struggling with something, ask first if they would like your help and if they refuse, don’t feel slighted, there is usually a good reason why they have not asked for help.

Are You Looking For a Veterinarian Service For Your Service Dog?

If you’re in need of a veterinarian who is experienced with working dogs and who can provide your service dog with the best of care, we encourage you to drop by and pay us a visit here at Leesville Animal Hospital! We have three excellent vets on staff who would be more than happy to provide your service dog with the very best of care. To make your appointment just give us a call today at (919)870-7000.

Our Hours

Monday: 7:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Tuesday: 7:30 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Wednesday: 7:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Thursday: 7:30 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Friday: 7:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Saturday: 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Sunday: Boarding pick up 5 – 6 p.m.

Call Us: (919) 870-7000
Visit Us: 9309 Leesville Rd,
                 Raleigh, N.C. 27613


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