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8 Things You Should Know About Guide Dog Etiquette

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Stetson is a Guide Dog puppy in training and not yet a full fledged guide dog. Our job as puppy raiser’s is to teach him basic obedience and socialize him with our daily activities such as bringing him to work, the grocery store, movies, concerts, amusement parks, airplanes, on the bus…etc.

It’s very important that people know proper etiquette when they see or meet a guide dog team (a blind person and his/her guide dog). Here are 8 things everyone should know about guide dog etiquette.

8 Things About Guide Dog Etiquette

  1. Please don’t pet, call out (or bark, meow or cluck) to, or otherwise distract a working Guide Dog. Allow the dog to concentrate and perform for the safety of its blind partner. A Guide Dog in harness is “on duty”, even when sitting or lying down.
  2. If you are in a car, please don’t honk the horn or call out directions. Handlers listen to traffic flow and other environmental sounds to decide when it’s safe to cross a street (Guide Dogs can’t read traffic lights!).Guide Dog puppy in training Team
  3. Don’t forget, Guide Dog teams have the right of way!
  4. Please don’t feed a Guide Dog. Diet and feeding times are strictly monitored to maintain good health and reliable relieving schedules.
  5. Never grab the harness or leash from the handler – you can disorient and confuse the team. If the handler looks like he needs help, offer your assistance and take your cue from his response. If you believe someone is in a dangerous situation voice your concern in a calm manner, but do not push, pull or grab the person.
  6. Speak to the person, not the dog! Some Guide Dog handlers may allow petting, but always ask first. Many folks enjoy introducing their dogs, but if they decline, please respect their wishes. Blind people have busy lives, too, and they may not have time to stop and chat.
  7. Sometimes a Guide Dog will make a mistake, and a correction is necessary to keep up the training. This could be a verbal reprimand or a leash correction. Handlers have been taught the proper and humane training techniques to maintain their dogs’ working standards. You may not always hear it, but Guide Dogs get loads of praise when they do the right things.
  8. You can expect to see Guide Dog teams just about anywhere. The Federal Americans with Disabilities Act and State Laws explicitly grant the right of access everywhere the public is allowed. They are allowed into restaurants, offices, churches, hospitals and hotels. They travel on buses, in taxis and airplanes, shop at grocery stores, enjoy amusement parks, movies and concerts.

This list comes straight from the Guide Dogs of America website. For more information on Guide Dog etiquette please visit the GDA website.

Guide Dogs of America Puppy In Training

I’ve talked to a couple different schools about guide dog puppy in training etiquette and the rules are very similar to the 8 points I mentioned above. Regarding petting our guide dog puppy’s in training: we are advised that it is okay to allow people to pet our dogs while they are wearing their jacket. However, people must first ask if it’s okay and second our puppy’s must stay in a “sit” position and remain calm. If our puppy gets out of the “sit” position we advise people to stop petting until we control our puppy and get them back into a “sit”.

By the way, it is sometimes important that we do not allow people to pet our puppy’s when they’re wearing their jacket. So if you do come into contact with a puppy raiser and they advise you not to pet their puppy, please don’t be offended the puppy may be in the middle of a specific training exercise.

I hope this article helps you understand basic guide dog etiquette. If you have any questions about guide dog etiquette please let me know in the comments area.

Have you come into contact with a guide dog or a guide dog puppy in training? Did they’re handler allow you to pet the dog? Did you follow the guide dog etiquette mentioned in this article?

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  1. @Robin, my Stetson is 15 months old and I’m not too sure when his turn in date will be (either May or August I think). I’ve had him since he was 8 weeks old also. He’s not too big only about a 65 pound black lab. You’ve probably seen some of his pictures on this site.

    Good luck to your Stetson on his formal training.


  2. I just wanted to tell you that I am a puppy raiser for Guide Dogs for the Blind and I am currently raising a pup named Stetson!! He is a huge, gorgeous yellow lab who is heading back to GDB in San Rafael to begin his formal training on Sunday. We’ve had him since he was 8 weeks old, and he has been a joy to raise. We picked up our 6th GDB puppy last week!

    I hope things are great with your Stetson!


  3. That’s cool that your friend trains guide dogs and drug/bomb sniffing dogs. We usually have guest speakers at our monthly guide dog group meetings and last year we were visited by two arson dogs and their caretaker. I wrote a short a article about their visit if you’re interested:

    Arson Dogs Denali and Gator

    If you’re friend is local(Orange County, CA) and is interested in being a guest speaker we’d love to have him visit our guide dog group.

    By the way, it’s totally cool if you submit to the social media sites. Thanks!

  4. One of my close friends trains guide dogs and drug/bomb sniffing dogs… these are some Great tips!

    Hope it’s cool… but I’m posting this page on all of the social media sites… take care!

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