Why can’t you pet service dogs? What to do and not do when encountering a service dog

Why can't you pet service dogs? What to do and not do when encountering a service dog

Why can’t you pet service dogs? What to do and not do when encountering a service dog

Service dogs are a special type of animal that have been trained to provide assistance for disabled individuals. Despite their friendliness, service dogs should never be petted, especially while on the job, as it could interfere with their work.

So why can’t you pet service dogs? In this post, Tony Flynn will explain some reasons why you should not pet service dogs and what to do and not do when encountering a service dog.

Why can’t you pet service dogs?

Why can't you pet service dogs?

Why can’t you pet service dogs?

Want to know the reasons why you shouldn’t pet service dogs? Service dogs provide mobility, guidance, comfort, and help with daily tasks. Service dogs are not considered pets. Service dogs are trained to help mitigate the symptoms of a disability or provide life-saving alerts to the handler. As much as you may want to say “hello” to a service dog and pet it in passing, there are risks posed by such an act that could potentially hurt the handler. It’s best to admire these animals from afar instead. That’s why you can’t pet a service dog.

For your safety and the well-being of service dogs, it is highly recommended that you not pet them. It is especially important to avoid interacting with a service dog for multiple reasons, such as:

Detachment from its task

Service dogs, despite their ordinary appearance, are well-trained professionals. They’re trained to stay attuned to the needs of their humans, so petting or playing with them can distract them from doing their tasks.

If you spot one of these pooches out and about or at an event, chances are they have a job to do! Touching or petting a working dog is a distraction and may prevent him from tending to his human partner.

When in the presence of a service dog, it is best to avert your gaze and allow him to remain focused on his task. By throwing eye contact into the mix, you risk diverting their attention from what they are meant to be doing.

Don’t pat or call an assistance dog without permission from the owner. It may distract the animal from tasks it has been given.

As cited in www.healthdirect.gov.au

Petting a service dog could put its owner at risk.

Life Buddies, or service dogs, help their owners manage disability symptoms or save lives. Petting, conversing with, and even feeding these animals can place both the handler and the animal at risk. Therefore, you must respect any boundaries set for them.

A potential disaster could occur if the canine does not alert its handler when there is imminent danger. As a result, it’s important to remember that petting or interacting with an active service dog or Life Buddy may put someone else in jeopardy.

A few states forbid the petting of service dogs.

In certain locales, it is a criminal offense to obstruct the performance of a service dog or working dog. In particular, if you commit this crime in Arizona, you may be charged with a Class 6 felony.

You risk injury from fake service dogs.

Due to its lack of training, a service dog is dangerous to pet and can attack if approached. Therefore, being unaware of whether the animal is an authentic service canine or not could put you and those around you at risk.

Aggression is a formidable indicator that the dog in question isn’t a service animal. However, unfortunately, it’s usually too late by then.

To maintain the safety of everyone, please abstain from interacting with service dogs. Refrain from petting them under any circumstances.

Invade their owners’ privacy.

Privacy is of the utmost importance to veterans and those living with disabilities. Thus, service dog owners may view any inquiry made regarding the animal as an invasion of privacy.

Asking about a service job is like asking about a hidden disability. Therefore, the same respect should be extended to the dog as well as its owner.

The dog is working even when it’s doing nothing.

Service dogs perform many invisible tasks for their handlers. Some handlers need their dogs to get them medicine, notice seizures, or detect a diabetic’s rapidly decreasing blood sugar. (Don’t wake a sleeping service dog).

What to do and not do when encountering a service dog

What to do and not do when encountering a service dog

What to do and not do when encountering a service dog

It can be challenging to know how to behave precisely around a service dog. The only thing you must do when encountering a service dog is to refrain from engaging with it in any way, even if you can’t recall all of the guidelines below.

11 things to avoid doing around a service dog:

  1. Watching a service dog handler and the dog
  2. Speaking, whistling, or barking at the canine
  3. Touching or requesting to touch the dog
  4. Complimenting the dog when he completes his assignment
  5. Distracting the dog with your leg taps or hand claps.
  6. Permitting your kids to approach the team of service dogs.
  7. Provide food or a treat for the dog.
  8. Ask about the handler’s disability, ID, and why they need a service dog.
  9. Assume based on a dog’s appearance or behavior that it might be a “fake service dog.”
  10. Imagine that a service dog that is sleeping isn’t working. Working dogs nap occasionally. When her handler stands or sits for a long time, a service dog should nap. It’s fine.
  11. Believe that service dogs are never allowed to “just be dogs.” Working dogs usually have plenty of free time. They’re allowed to act like dogs at home. According to their keepers, these amazing animals need lots of rest and exercise because their jobs are often stressful.

Proper behavior when near a service dog:

  • Be sensitive to and respectful of the owner or handler. It is improper to inquire personally about a service dog’s handler’s disability. It violates privacy and is disrespectful.
  • Always give the service dog team a chance to handle matters independently, but if you feel they may need your help, don’t be afraid to ask. If they decline your offer of assistance, it’s likely for their safety or comfort; accept this and move on without taking it personally.
  • Prevent your dog from approaching a service dog.
  • Allowing the service dog team to move first on sidewalks and in walkways. This may facilitate navigation in congested areas.
  • Speak to the dog’s owner or handler instead of the animal.
  • Keep your cool and be quiet around a service dog. Don’t play, run around, or make too much noise.
  • If you see a service dog wandering around without its handler within earshot, call the police.
  • If a service dog approaches you, alert the handler. Inform the handler politely if a working dog approaches, sniffs, or otherwise interacts with you. The handler will correct the dog, so resist the urge to respond to it.

Service dog identification

Service dog identification

Service dog identification

The handler of a service dog may not always be able to answer whether their dog is a service animal, but that doesn’t mean you can’t recognize one. You can learn how to ask if a dog is a service animal or look out for the following signs that indicate whether or not a canine is an official service pet:


It’s a service dog if it pulls a wheelchair. Disability isn’t always obvious. Thus, a dog may be helping without your knowledge.

Choke chain

Service dogs are trained to know when their owner is about to have a seizure. They are usually on a leash and by their owner’s side.


Distinguishing a service dog by its vest, harness, or badge is far from ideal, as these identifiers can be misused to gain access for non-service dogs. Thus, proper steps must be taken to guarantee that only legitimate service animals get accepted into public spaces.

When is it acceptable to pet service dogs?

When is it acceptable to pet service dogs

When is it acceptable to pet service dogs

Even though there are some regulations one should keep in mind before petting a service dog, there may be times when it’s acceptable.

A handler may ask you to pet or play with their service dog in training to help socialize the animal, but never do so without permission. Even if you know that it is a working dog in training, always make sure to ask before you do anything.

If you stumble across a service dog unaccompanied, you must act right away as their handler may be in trouble. The canine might even bark or nudge your hand to demand help since they are trained to bring aid on behalf of their owner. You mustn’t hesitate if this happens; rather, take quick action immediately!

Guide Dogs of America recommends following the dog if you are in a situation where it is helping its owner. However, assess your circumstances and call 9-1-1 when necessary for medical aid.

What to do if service dogs approach you alone?

What to do if service dogs approach you alone

What to do if service dogs approach you alone?

You may think you should ignore a service dog if he approaches since you know what to do.

If a service animal ever nudges you, its aim is not to scare or annoy you but rather to solicit your aid for their human companion. Don’t hesitate and simply observe the dog—you might be able to lend an assisting hand!

FAQs Why can’t you pet service dogs?

Is it possible to pet your own service dog?

Petting a service dog can simply be distracting. Avoid touching service dogs because it distracts them from their job. They are specially trained to provide a task that a person with a disability cannot. That’s why you can’t pet service dogs.

How does petting a service dog affect it?

What happens if you pet a service dog? Petting a working dog distracts him from his human partner. Don’t approach or pet a service dog. You distract them from their tasks and put the services they are providing to their handler at risk in both the short and long term.

Should people pet an emotional support dog?

Ask first. Respect the handler before petting their animal. For their safety and yours, many handlers don’t allow petting. Service and support animals wear vests for two reasons.

Can I pet a guide dog?

Ask before petting some handlers. If allowed, stroke the dog’s shoulders, not its head. Don’t be offended if the handler refuses to pet the dog.

How much are service dogs?

Service dogs can be expensive depending on the type of service they are providing. Generally, a service dog can cost anywhere from $500 to $25,000 or more.


To recap, petting a service dog is not allowed due to the distraction from its job. Not only that, but the process of training a service dog requires strict rules and boundaries. It’s important for those rules to be maintained without interference from any outside sources.

Ultimately, it’s important to remember that service dogs are just like any other animal: they don’t work if they’re not in the right environment. With this knowledge from mbhconcours.org, you too can share its importance with those around you and help educate others on why it’s so important not to pet service dogs.

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