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Service Dog Etiquette 12 August 08

Posted by turtlemom3 in ADA, ADI, Delta Society, Dept of Justice, Federal Law, Guidelines, IAADP, PAALS, Service Dogs.

I recently read some  information about service dog etiquette that makes a lot of sense.

Since not everyone knows about service dogs, not everyone knows about service dog etiquette.

First – a service dog is not a pet! A service dog has at least 2 years of intensive socialization and training behind him and is an expert in what he does. Most have been bred from working dog stock and not only thoroughly enjoy, but need to work.

A person who has a service dog has a very well-trained working dog. When you meet them, remember that the dog is working. Don’t interrupt it.

Always speak to the dog’s partner first, and always ask before beginning to interact with the dog.

Don’t pet the dog or make noises at the dog without permission of the dog’s partner.

If the partner says, “No,” then the answer is, “No,” and simply agree with it and go with it. It has nothing to do with you, it has to do with the service dog and his duties.

Never offer food to a service dog! This will distract him from his job. It can even cause injury to the disabled partner.

If you encounter a service dog in training or a puppy in training, ignore it! At this stage of training, they are easily distractible and can have a whole day’s training lost if interfered with.

It is impolite to ask the partner about his disability. If you are intrusive enough to ask such an invasive question, do not be surprised if the partner refuses to discuss it. The partner is not being offensive – he just doesn’t want his privacy invaded any more than you would.

Business Owners

If you are a business person, you may not prevent a person from bringing his service dog in with him. Both Federal and State laws specify that service dogs are to be permitted into any business or location. Even clinics or hospitals.

If you don’t like dogs, or are afraid of them, simply put yourself on the other side of the person from the dog.

If the dog “forgets” his manners and barks or growls at something or someone, you may inquire as to what the problem is. If someone has been teasing, poking or otherwise alarming the dog, they should be reprimanded. On the other hand, some service dogs alert their partners to impending seizures or crashing blood sugars  by barking once or twice, and that may be the source of a bark or two.

You may ask the person to remove their service dog from the premises if the dog’s behavior is disruptive or destructive.

If another customer has a severe allergy to dogs, you might ask the person with the service dog  if you can help them outside or if they can wait outside until the person with the allergy is through. This problem has not been defined by law, however. Balancing the health needs of the allergic against the rights of the disabled with service animals will probably be worked out in courts of law in the future.

If other customers complain about the presence of the service dog, explain that the service dog is medically necessary, and that Federal law AND State law protect the rights of the person to have their service dog with them in public places.

Many disabled people with service dogs carry pamphlets or cards that explain Federal ADA laws about service dogs. Some carry information about the training their dog has gone through and any certifications it has. You might politely ask the disabled person if they have such information with them if another customer is confused and you feel you don’t have enough information yourself to help the situation.

Places To Go For More Information

Delta Society

Assistance Dogs International

International Association of Assistance Dog Partners (IAADP)


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[NOTE: Waiting for the Woof ended 10/2/08. Living with the Woof picks up with the addition of Emmy to our lives! Please join me at: Living With the Woof for the ongoing saga of the Woof! Our adventures and our foibles will be chronicled there.]


Is this Japan? or Europe? NO! It’s the USA! 3 May 08

Posted by turtlemom3 in ADA, Autism, Disability, Guidelines, Service Dogs, Working Dogs.
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I posted about this before, but I just discovered this video on YouTube that was added on April 11, 2008

“A Washington County family said they plan to sue their school district, alleging school leaders are breaking a federal law by banning their son’s certified service dog from the building.”

This is bizarre! How many steps backward are we going to have to go before we realize that our service animals are essential???

Yea for the ADA! 29 December 07

Posted by turtlemom3 in ADA, Disability, Guidelines.
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A friend asked me about where I can take the Woof when I get him. “Anywhere,” I replied. “O surely not!” she exclaimed. “Sure – anywhere.” “Even to a restaurant?” “Sure.”

She shook her head. “How can you be so sure about that?”

I’m sure about it because the Americans with Disabilities Act says so! And each individual state has confirmed it in their own disabilities acts.

Some web places that provide authoritative and reliable information about service animals and the ADA will be found on the page dedicated to the ADA and Service Dogs.

Even restaurants, hospitals, medical offices and health clubs must permit a service animal on premises as long as the animal is not behaving in a disruptive manner (barking, growling, etc).

Yea for the ADA!!

But What, Exactly, Can a Dog Do For You? 25 December 07

Posted by turtlemom3 in Guidelines, Service Dogs.

It is hard to list all the things my Woof will do for me – there are so many things!

Some of the tasks that my Woof will be able to do are:

Brace For Stability – to help me get up or sit down.

Open/Close Doors – pull open and hold (especially the heavy ones at malls and stores) push open and brace, lock doorknob and deadbolt.

Pull Wheelchair – sometimes I need to be in a wheelchair, and my hands, elbows and shoulders hurt so much I can’t propel it myself; the dog can learn to pull it for me.

Push Buttons – elevator buttons; the button to a special 9-1-1 phone.

Flip Switches – light switches in particular. In the mornings my hands often don’t function well. The dog will be able to the light switches in each room for me.

Take Items From Shelf – pretty self-explanatory!

Retrieve Indicated Items – Getting items such as dropped keys, papers, clothing, etc.;

Bring the telephone or remote control upon request, get a towel from a drawer, take something from another person to give to me, pick something up off a store shelf.

Alert for Help

Helping with Appliances – Pushing buttons and switches with nose, paws and/or mouth.

Pulling appliances open such as dishwasher and refrigerator.

Carry Items Upon Request – This can be either in his mouth or in a little backpack saddlebag.

Give Items to Others – Handing a credit card or money to a store clerk and taking change from that person to give to me.

Drag Wheelchair/Walker/Cane Back To Partner – This is a biggie – I’m ALWAYS leaving my cane somewhere or dropping it, etc.

Assist with House/Yard work – think about this – I’m sweeping up cat litter that Magnus has scattered, and Woof holds the dustpan

Assist to put on Clothing – I can’t reach behind my back. The dog can. He can take the edge of my jacket, for example, and pull it around to where I can put my hand and arm in the sleeve.

Assist to Remove Clothing – I can’t reach behind my back. The dog can. He can grab the end of my sleeve to help pull off a jacket or blouse.

One thing he can’t do for me, though, is fasten and unfasten my bra – he doesn’t have thumbs! Sigh! The only drawback!

So – this is a long list of things Woof will be able to do! Come on, Woof! I’m waiting for you!

Standards 18 December 07

Posted by turtlemom3 in AID, Guidelines, Service Dogs.
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A friend asked about standards for service dogs. I was happy to be able to tell him about ADI – Assistance Dogs International. This organization sets standards for all kinds of service dogs, including the “general” service / assistance dog that I’m waiting for. PAALS, “my” service dog organization, is a provisional member of ADI. They are a young group, and cannot be a “full” member until they have placed a certain number of successful animals that meet ADI standards.

The partners of service dogs must meet certain guidelines, also! It’s not “just” the dogs! We partners have to step up to the plate, too! We have responsibilities and minimum standards to measure up to, also. This is only fair!

If you go to the ADI website, you can click around on the links and find standards for all the types of service dogs.  The public access certification test is also on the website – it is tough, and the scoring is no-nonsense.

I hope I can live up to my responsibilities! Of course, that’s one of the reasons why the dog-partner needs a partner to help with caring for and ensuring the ongoing training of the dog – by the dog-partner! I’m sure the Ol’ Curmudgeon will be tough on me about that. And I want him to. I hate to think that I might somehow jeopardize PAALS‘ full membership status in ADI!