Meeting a Guide Dog Team – Some Words of Advice
Who doesn’t love dogs — especially in the LGBT community! Many of our members and allies are either guide dog users or puppy raisers. Check out the info below about interacting with a guide dog team.
Saying Hello to a Guide Dog Team!
• As tempting as it may be to pet a Guide Dog, remember that this dog is responsible for leading someone who cannot see. The dog should never be distracted
from that duty. A person’s safety may depend on their dog’s alertness and concentration.
• It is okay to ask someone if you may pet their guide. Many people enjoy introducing their dogs when they have the time. The dog’s primary responsibility
is to its blind partner and it is important that the dog not become solicitous.
• A Guide Dog should never be offered food or other distracting treats. The dogs are fed on a schedule and follow a specific diet in order to keep them
in optimum condition. Even slight deviations from their routine can disrupt their regular eating and relieving schedules and seriously inconvenience their
handlers. Guide Dogs are trained to resist offers of food so they will be able to visit restaurants without begging. Feeding treats to a Guide Dog weakens
• Although Guide Dogs cannot read traffic signals, they are responsible for helping their handlers safely cross a street. Calling out to a Guide Dog or
intentionally obstructing its path can be dangerous for the team as it could break the dog’s concentration on its work.
• Listening for traffic flow has become harder for Guide Dog handlers due to quieter car engines and the increasing number of cars on the road. Please don’t
honk your horn or call out from your car to signal when it is safe to cross. This can be distracting and confusing. Be especially careful of pedestrians
in crosswalks when making right-hand turns at red lights.
• It’s not all work and no play for a Guide Dog. When they are not in harness, they are treated in much the same way as pets. However, for their safety
they are only allowed to play with specific toys. Please don’t offer them toys without first asking their handler’s permission.
• In some situations, working with a Guide Dog may not be appropriate. Instead, the handler may prefer to take your arm just above the elbow and allow their
dog to heel. Others will prefer to have their dog follow you. In this case, be sure to talk to the handler and not the dog when giving directions for turns.
• A Guide Dog can make mistakes and must be corrected in order to maintain its training. This correction usually involves a verbal admonishment coupled
with a leash correction, followed by praise when the dog regains focus and correctly follows a command. Guide Dog handlers have been taught the appropriate
correction methods to use with their dogs.
• Access laws, including the United States’ Americans with Disabilities Act and Canada’s Blind Persons’ Rights Act, permit people who are blind to be accompanied
by their guide dogs anywhere the general public is allowed, including taxis and buses, restaurants, theaters, stores, schools, hotels, apartment and office
• Before asking a question of a person handling a dog, allow them to complete the task at hand.
• Remain calm in your approach and mannerisms.
• Never tease a dog.
Have a question that we didn’t cover? Place it in the comment section below and we will be glad to answer!