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Interacting With a Service Dog Team

You’ve always thought service dogs deserved flashy red Superdog capes. These well-trained, dedicated dogs help their owners with tasks such as retrieving everyday objects, opening and closing doors, and even detecting specific medical problems. Since service dogs can range from small terriers to big husky golden retrievers, the Superdogs’ tailors would stay busy making capes in different sizes. While you and your dog Chelsie have seen several service dogs on your Livonia, MI walks, you’ve never been sure how to properly greet these close-knit duos. Read more about interacting with a service dog/owner team.

Greeting Guidelines

Since Chelsie thinks dogs and people make up one big happy family, she’d love to go nose-to-nose with the dog right away. However, you don’t want to distract the service dog from his (or her) work. Also, since the two dogs could develop an instant dislike for each other, avoid a potential confrontation between the two pooches. The bottom line: keep friendly Chelsie a respectable distance away, and make sure she remains quiet and calm.

Give the dog’s owner the same friendly greeting that you’d extend to anyone else. If you’d like to pet the service dog, ask for permission; however, don’t be insulted if the owner declines your request. Also, avoid questions about the owner’s disability, as they’ll volunteer that information if they’re comfortable providing it.

Feeding Is Off Limits

While you always carry a pocketful of treats for Chelsie (and for other deserving dogs you meet), don’t offer the service dog any kibbles. Even though these dogs have been trained to ignore wayward food scraps, and are well-mannered canines who don’t beg for treats, your offerings might provide a distraction the dog doesn’t need. And while you wouldn’t intentionally make this special dog sick, your dog treats might give him a very upset tummy.

To Help or Not to Help?

If it looks like the service dog team might need a hand, casually ask the owner if you can provide assistance — and respect his or her answer. And whatever you do, don’t seize the dog’s harness or leash and attempt to resolve the situation without permission. After all, you don’t want to potentially upset the dog or cause distress for the owner.

When Chelsie next visits her Livonia, MI vet, ask him for additional tips on interacting with service dog teams. And keep looking for those impressive-looking canines with their bright red Superdog capes.

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