Service Dog Etiquette

Modified: June 27, 2017 8:40am

Service dog etiquette

DearAbby: Would you please remind your readers about proper service dog etiquette? My service dog has given me a new lease on life, but going out in public with him can be a huge source of anxiety. If your readers see a service dog in public, they should remember this:

• Don’t pet the dog, or talk to it, and don’t allow children to "rush" the do! g. This distracts the service dog from its important job and c! ould put a handler in danger.

• Don’t question whether service dogs are or should be "allowed" somewhere.

Handlers need to shop, take public transport and go to restaurants just like everyone else.

• Don’t ask invasive personal questions about the handler’s health or abilities. I’m sure you wouldn’t want a

stranger prying into your own medical history.

• And please don’t gush about how "l! ucky" someone is to have a service dog or how you wish you could have your pet with you. Try mentally replacing the word "dog" with "wheelchair" or "oxygen tank" before you speak. Service dogs are not pets.

For a lot of people, they are lifelines. Many of us are happy to speak with you about our dogs or answer questions, but please remember that we are people with individual comfort levels and limits, and we just want to enjoy public spaces like everyone else.

– New Lease on Life

DearNewLease : Thank you for giving me the chance to remind readers about service dog etiquette. Many of us are animal lovers who hav! e a hard time resisting the impulse to reach out when we see service do! gs. It’s done with the best of intentions, while forgetting that a dog wearing a vest may be working. I say "may" because, unfortunately, service vests that allow animals to be present in markets and restaurants can be ordered online by people with no disability at all.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, aka Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips.

Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.


Dear Abby




Dear Abby Article of 6/22/17.