I’d really like to address the elephant in the room – or actually, the dog in the room. I realize that most people may not understand proper etiquette where service dogs and puppies training to become service dogs are concerned. Working at K9s For Warriors, I already had in-depth understanding; however, now that I have a service dog in-training, who I take to most places with me… I have gained further knowledge on this topic.
Here are some tips for the public and businesses to follow if you see a puppy-raiser/puppy team, such as Slider and myself out and about:
Please Do Not Talk To Slider
If you talk directly to him, that is distracting him from his purpose. He is training to become a service dog and needs to focus on his surroundings and his handler. You may talk to me directly, however. I enjoy talking about Slider and the mission of K9s For Warriors. Speaking to the dog and not acknowledging the handler can come off as disrespectful.
Please Do Not Talk About Slider And I Like We Are Not There
If you have a question, please direct it to me. Turning to the person you are with and asking them questions about us is not appropriate. Furthermore, making statements aloud about us for others to hear when you are not including us in that conversation is not proper. If you would like to interact with us, please do so.
Here are some things that I’ve heard people saying to others about Slider and me:
“Whoa, who is that girl talking to?”
“Dang, look there’s a dog. That thing scared me!”
A Doggy. Why the heck is he in here?”
“Why does she have him? She looks normal!”
***Yeah… please do not say things like that.
Please Do Not Pet Slider – Unless I Give You Permission To
Most people really love dogs. I know I do. I understand that is tempting to walk by Slider and reach down to touch him, but you need to resist.When he has his vest on, he needs to concentrate on his mission. You may ask me to pet him. I may say no, depending on his behavior and other factors. Please understand that I am not trying to be mean. If I say you may pet him, please feel free to get down on his level and gently touch him. Remember he is a puppy that still gets excited and may jump.
Please Do Not Feed Slider
He has specific dog food and treats that he has to eat. Slider is not permitted to eat table scraps or even certain types of dog treats. He and I have to follow a puppy-raising handbook. It is very important to us that we obey the rules to ensure that he can become a service dog.
In my wallet I have a card that has Slider’s picture on it. The card has the K9s For Warriors’ logo on it, in addition to the Department of Justice’s logo. Here is what the card says:
I am a service animal and my right to accompany my handler is protected by federal law.
In accordance with the American with Disabilities Act of 1990, businesses may ask:
- Is this a service dog?
- What tasks does the service animal perform?
Businesses may not:
- Require special identification for the animal.
- Ask about the person’s disability.
- Charge additional fees because of the animal.
- Refuse admittance, isolate, segregate, or treat this person less favorably than other patrons.
A person with a disability cannot be asked to remove his/her service animal from the premises unless:
- The animal is out of control and the owner does not take effective action to control it.
- The animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others.
Any business that sells or prepares food must allow service animals in public area, even if state and local health codes prohibit animals on the premises.
Refusal to provide equal access to people with disabilities with service animals is a federal civil rights violation, provided by the American Disabilities Act of 1990. Violators of the ADA can be required to pay money damages and penalties.
I love engaging with the public. Talking to people is something that I really enjoy. Most of the time, if someone asks to pet Slider, I allow it.
Here is an example of the correct way to interact with a service dog in-training and its handler:
Stranger: “Hello, is that a service dog?”
Me: “Actually, he is training to become a service dog.”
Stranger: “Oh, really? Are you training him?”
Me: “No, I am raising him. He is too young to live on the campus where he will train. He will live with me until he turns one. Then, he will move onto the campus at K9s For Warriors and begin working with our trainers.”
Stranger: “That is really cool.”
Me: “Thank you.”
Stranger: “May I pet him?”
This was a real interaction that I had in a mall with a fellow shopper. This dialogue was very respectful and positive. Please feel free to follow. 🙂