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How to Behave Around a Service Animal

Many people have seen a service animal in public. However, you may wonder how to behave around a service animal. Service animals are working animals with jobs and duties. They are providing a service to their person. Service animals help people with many disabilities and medical conditions, such as:

  • Visual impairments
  • Diabetes
  • Epilepsy
  • Autism
  • Hearing disabilities

In this article, we discuss how to behave around a service animal in public.

Four Tips for How to Behave Around a Service Animal

Reduce Distractions

Working dogs have important jobs to do. For that reason, distracting them is not appropriate. For instance, the following behaviours are not appropriate:

  • Calling to animals
  • Attempting to pet animals
  • Enticing animals with food or toys

Keep your Own Dog Away

Despite being well-trained, another dog can still distract a service dog. Do not let your dog approach working animals. It may be distracting or cause other problems for handlers.

Don’t Feed the Animals!

It goes without saying that only handlers should feed service dogs. Handlers should be in charge of all feeding, such as meals and treats. As well, even if the handler allows table scraps, you shouldn’t feed the dog. The handler needs complete control over the animal’s diet.

Let the Sleeping Dogs Lie

It is not uncommon or unusual for a service dog to lie down or take a nap. Handlers have specific methods to awaken animals if needed. As a result, members of the public should not feel the need to wake up a sleeping service animal. Also, there is no need to alert the handler to the fact that the dog is sleeping. So, as the saying goes, let sleeping dogs lie!

When to Interact with a Service Animal

Many animals are trained to find help if their handler is in distress. For this reason, if a service animal approaches you without its handler, interact with it. Their person may need help. Use simple commands to interact with an animal that approaches you. For instance:

  • Where is your handler?
  • What’s wrong?
  • Where’s the trouble?
  • Do you need help?
  • Show me the way


In conclusion, if you’re unsure how to behave around a service animal, a hands-off approach is best. If you have questions or concerns, speak directly to handlers. As well, they understand that people are curious about service dogs and are usually happy to answer questions or discuss their companions. Lastly, remember that service animals are just like regular animals when they’re off-duty. Handlers will alert you when it’s ok to give their animals a belly rub!