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To the Rescue: Greeting a Guide Dog

Today marks the anniversary of the establishment of The Seeing Eye, one of the first organizations to train dogs to assist the blind over 75 years ago. I've offered up some quick tips when meeting and greeting a working dog in public based on information from Guide Dogs for the Blind.

  • First and foremost, remember guide dogs are responsible for leading someone who cannot see and should never be distracted from their duties. Remain calm in your approach and mannerisms in the pup's presence as to not take away concentration.
  • It is okay to ask someone if you can pet their guide dog, but you should never simply stick your hand out to do so. Before asking, make sure the duo has completed the task at hand.
  • To see a few more tips,


  • Don't offer a guide dog treats as it can hinder his performance. These dogs are allowed to accompany their handlers in places where ordinary dogs cannot go. For example, it is important not to interfere with their training to never beg or accept food in restaurants.
  • Although guide dogs cannot read traffic signals, they are responsible for helping their handlers safely cross a street. Don't be a distraction and never call out to a guide dog or block his path when walking, and don't honk your horn or call out to cross when driving.


Join The Conversation
CanadianInVA CanadianInVA 9 years
I can't believe that people actually have to be told not to touch working dogs. Some people have a lot of nerve. You should never touch any dog without permission.
Renees3 Renees3 9 years
I'd also like to point out that guide dogs are NOT just for the blind. My boyfriends aunt is deaf and has one and working dogs are becoming very helpful to autistic children. It's best to just leave them alone. If you want to show appreciation donate to a palce that trains these dogs. It's not cheap and they really are lifesavers for many people
wackdoodle wackdoodle 9 years
My mom used to assist the blind before she got married and she trained all of us kids not to touch guide dogs or speak to them (the dog) without first asking the person the dog is assisting. It's like going up and touching someone's person without asking-wrong. As you said the dog is working, you ask the person, you what for permission to be grant or respect the denial of your request. And for cripesakes speak to the blind person. Try to have a conversation not an awkward silence then say "nice dog" and walk away. That's just my suggestion-having had handicapped parents & a handicapped BIL. People don't like to have conversations with disabled people even when an animal is involved. At work I often have to ask passengers on the bus not to touch other passenger's companion dogs or guide dogs. It seems that many people still automatically have the impulse to just pet any dog they see regardless of the task that dog is performing.
fluffy-bomb fluffy-bomb 9 years
Yeah, there really is no reason to ever pet one in the first place. They are working, and it's not at all necessary for you to do so.
aembry396 aembry396 9 years
This is a great post...many people (esp. those in big cities--where I have had more encounters with "work" dogs) are unsure what to do. I agree with kia: only ask to pet when they are out of their harnesses or playing. Just to be safe.
kia kia 9 years
Great post. My mother and stepfather are both blind and assisted by work dogs. I would go as far as to say that there is no reason to pet a work animal when they are working. The only time I ask to pet work animals is when they are not on their harnesses and out for recreation.
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