BLOG [STORY] Service Dog and Disability Etiquette

Do you or anybody you know have a service dog?


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MAD CAT
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MAD CAT
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Jan 18, 2018
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Intro from BigLenny the Service Dog

My name is BigLenny and I am BigT’s service dog. I am a Golden Retriever and the reason behind the BigGoldenBear discount code available for use now during check-out at www.onetigris.com

When I was just eight weeks old I went to a special puppy-raiser’s home. My puppy-raiser taught me manners and obedience. I was socialized in lots of interesting places where I learned to ignore other people and concentrate on behaving correctly. I stayed with my puppy-raiser until I was old enough to go to “Puppy College,” which the hoomans call Advanced Training.



In Advanced Training I learned to do special things to help the partner I had not even met yet. I learned to pick things up/return them to my partner. I learned to open/close doors, and turn lights on/off. I learned to get things off high shelves, put my feet on a counter with money in my mouth in case my partner needs help paying for purchases, and I even learned to pull a wheelchair in case I would ever be needed to do that. I learned the names of some important things, like "phone". All my partner has to say to me is, “BigLenny, get the phone,” and I run and come back with the phone in my mouth.

When I was really good at all those skills, I met my partner BigT who then had to learn how to command me to accomplish such tasks. BigT had to learn to be my leader, and I had to learn to do what I was told by another person. It was hard work to go through team training together, but we did it. Now we are a real team and go everywhere together.



Service Dog Etiquette

Regularly when people see service dogs with their partners, they are immediately drawn to admire and even pet the service dogs. However well intentioned, it is important to be aware of some of the rules surrounding working dogs. People with workings dogs generally enjoy engaging with those drawn to their canine partners. Just remember to observe the tips below, and enjoy your interaction with the TEAM! These are just tips. Each organization, group, etc. has their own set of rules or etiquette, but virtually all can be associated with the tips below.
  • Do NOT touch the dog without asking permission first! This is a distraction and may prevent the dog from tending to the hooman. Be sensitive to the fact the dog is working and may be in the middle of a command or direction from its hooman partner. Most dogs need to be told the command "Release" from work mode to interact with someone.
  • Please do NOT feed the dog. The dog may be on a special diet. Food is the ultimate distraction to the working dog and can jeopardize the working service dog team.
  • Speak to the person, NOT the service dog. Most handlers do not mind talking about service dogs and their dog specifically if they have the time. In fact, they often enjoy it!
  • Do NOT whistle or make sounds to the dog as this again may provide a dangerous distraction.
  • Never make assumptions about the individual’s intelligence, feelings or capabilities. Offers of help are appreciated, but ASK first. Usually, the service dog team can get the task done by themselves.
  • Always approach a service dog calmly and speak to their hooman partner before touching or addressing the dog.



Disability Etiquette

I know I am handsome and pretty wonderful! I mean people are always telling me, and I know little kids who like the Disney Lion King often think I am a lion and run up to pet, hug and even try to ride me. There are also some kids and adults with my summer cut that think I look like a bear and again run up and want to touch and pet me. Being the celebrity I am I know BigT would never say anything, but I feel it is only my duty to say a little more about etiquette in regards to my man, BigT, and other handsome service animals out there.

There are a large number of sources offering in depth information on disability etiquette including the American Disability Act of 1990 which among others gives service animals the right to accompany their handler. Refusal to provide equal access to people with disabilities with service animals is a federal civil rights violation.
  • Golden Rule says, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
  • When speaking with a person with a disability, speak directly to them and not to service dog (parent, attendant, interpreter, etc.)
  • Ask if a disabled person wants your assistance.
  • Do not ask about a person’s disability; they will share when they are ready.
  • Always put the person first. They are a person with a disability, not a disabled person.
  • Avoid outdated terms like crippled, handicapped, retarded, wheelchair bound, hearing impaired, etc.
  • Use proper service dog etiquette. Make sure to acknowledge the person before acknowledging their service dog. And always ask before you pet. Remember the dog is working and we do not want to distract.

In Summary

By the time BigT became my forever person I had learned over 80 commands! I will work with BigT until my retirement age between 8–10 years old. At that point I become a pet, but I will also have a very important role as BigT gets paired with his next service dog. Once BigT brings his new service dog home I will act as a sort of mentor, something that I did not have, and something that will give BigT’s new service dog a big advantage getting up to speed with the learning curve.

I hope you all enjoyed and maybe even learned something. Remember: A service dog is as vital to a person with disabilities as a wheelchair or cane, and do not forget you can use the discount code BigGoldenBearat checkout on www.onetigris.com to gear up on all of the wonderful tactical gear OneTigris has to offer Hoomans and Dawgs!!!


Service Dog Etiquette Recap
  • Never distract (with food, noise, touch, etc.) a service dog or a service dog in training. Because by doing so can potentially injure a disabled handler and/or earn the dog a correction.
  • Pay no attention to a service dog or puppy in training. And remember, these dogs are not pets. They are being trained to do a very important job.
  • If you feel you must pet a service dog or puppy in training, ask first. Do not feel offended if the handler says no. Handlers are hooman and might be having a bad day or might be running late.
  • Teach your children to never pet a strange dog – ANY dog – without first asking permission. Teach them to follow your good example.
All the best,
Lennon aka BigLenny!!!