Etiquette Tips

Assistance Dog Manners


People seem to forget their manners when they see me working in public sometimes. I am sure its just becuase I am so cute, but I thought I would take the chance to give you all some tips on how to interact with people using Assistance Dogs.

  • Do not touch the dog without permission from the handler.

Touching me without permission is an invasion of my mums personal space. Would you touch someones walking stick without asking? It is also very distracting for me to be patted while I am meant to be working and can ruin my training if too many people do it. 


  • Remember to address the handler – not the dog.

Remeber its not me who is going to answer you back – its my mum! We have experianced shop assistants that will talk to me while mum is waiting for them to help her!  Mum thinks that is not very good customer service.


  • Do not distract the dog with noises, food or attempts to pat.

I have a very important job to do, and I have to concentrate on that. It can be very distracting when I am trying to help mum and people are patting me.


  • Do not ask the handler what their disability is, or any other intrusive questions.

Mum chooses not to tell strangers about her medical issues. Its personal, and even though I am sure people don’t mean to offend by asking it is still very rude.


  • Do not be offended if the handler has not got time to stop and answer questions about their Assistance Dog.

Just like you some days we are really busy! Other days maybe mum isn’t feeling well. These things mean sometimes we can not stop to chat and answer questions – but that is why we made this website!


  • It is not polite to point and stare, shout “look at the dog!” or otherwise draw attention to us.

That does inculde people muttering under their breath or assuming that we can’t hear you talking about us.


  • Educate others, especially children on correct behaviour around Assistance Dogs.

We love it when we hear parents explaining to their children that they can not come pat me because I am working!


  • Do not take photos of the dog or handler without permission.

Mum finds it really uncomfortable when strangers point cameras at us. We are not a freaky side show, we are just trying to go about our business like everyone else.


  • If you have a dog, do not allow your dog to approach or interact with the Assistance Dog.

I love to play with other dogs but when I am on duty I have to keep my mind on the job and its super hard when other dogs are barking at me.


Remember the dog is just another tool to help get on with life! Just like a wheelchair or walking stick. People who use assistance dogs are no diffrent to anyone else. Please don’t treat us differently!

Responses

  1. Wow this was totally helpful for me to know what’s appropriate around assistance dogs. I like the walking stick metaphor, it’s really helpful in understanding where you are coming from with your assistance dog. awsome!

    • Thanks Dominique! Most people don’t actually intend to be rude or inconsiderate they just didn’t know any better which is why Mum and I put this page together. I am so happy that you found it helpful and informative!

  2. I love you Luigi

  3. Thanks for putting this page together, Luigi. I am glad it is okay to tell my kids that you (or your colleagues) are working when you have your jacket on … it’s always seemed rude to talk about you like that because you can clearly hear me (I try to nod to you when I am explaining) — but I need to tell them they can’t come over to you and ask to pat you when you are working.

    • Thanks Murphy for telling your kids about working dogs, We love hearing parents explain to their children why they cant say hello to me. Its never rude to educate your children! Sometimes if we over hear a parent trying to explain and we have the time/energy we will go over and help explain too and let the kids ask any questions.

  4. Hi, is Luigi an Italian greyhound? How do I recognise an assistance dog?

    • Hi Will! I am most defiantly an Italian Greyhound! Thanks for asking about how you can recognise an Assistance Dog! In most cases an Assistance Dog will be wearing some sort of vest or harness that will indicate it is a working dog. This is not a requirement by federal law in Australia, but most handlers choose to do this so their dogs are easily identified. It may be a vest like I wear or a special harness like guide and mobility dogs wear. But if your ever not sure you can always politely ask “Is that an Assistance Dog?” and the handler will happily tell you if your unsure.


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