In God's great love and wisdom, he has provided many solutions to help us through life's many challenges. The Beat Church is committed to offering a safe place for all people with disabilities or emotional difficulties requiring the use of a properly trained and certified service or therapy dog.
Here are eight tips to help you feel more comfortable interacting with service dogs and their owners.
- DO speak to the owner/handler rather than the dog. The service dog and their handler are a team. If you want to talk to them, always speak to the person first rather than automatically approaching the dog.
- DON'T touch the dog without asking permission first. Touching or petting a working dog is a distraction and may prevent him from tending to his human partner.
- 3. DO keep your own dog a distance away from a working dog.
- 4. DON'T offer food to a service dog. According to Canine Companions for Independence, "Food is the ultimate distraction to the working dog and can jeopardize the working assistance dog team."
- DO treat the owner/handler with sensitivity and respect. Asking a service dog's handler personal questions about his or her disability is out of bounds and is an intrusion of privacy. Assume the service dog team can handle things themselves. If you sense they could use your help, ask first. And don't take it personally if your offer is rejected, as there's usually a good reason.
- DON'T assume a napping service dog is off duty. All dogs nap, including working dogs. When her handler is sitting or standing for some length of time, it's perfectly natural and appropriate for a service dog to catch a few winks. She's still technically at work, however, so all dos and don'ts remain in effect.
- DO inform the handler if a service dog approaches you. If a working dog approaches you, sniffs or nudges you, etc., politely let the handler know. Resist the urge to respond to the dog — the handler will correct the dog.
- DON'T assume service dogs never get to 'just be dogs'. Working dogs typically get plenty of R&R and playtime. When they're home and out of their "work clothes," they're free to behave like any other dog. Since the jobs these wonderful animals do are often challenging and stressful, their handlers recognize they need plenty of downtime and exercise.