Whether they are trained to detect bombs and drugs, or trained to assist a specially-abled person, they deserve our respect while they are at work. In India, service dogs usually work alongside the police and the army. We have very few guide dogs and mobility assistance dogs which is why many people don’t know how to behave around service dogs in India.
Don’t worry, we have your side; here are some rules you must follow around a service dog in India, and really, anywhere in the world:
Never Distract A Service Dog
When service dogs are wearing a harness, it means they are working. Their jobs vary from one and other. Some dogs are protecting their human’s life while others like police dogs and army dogs are protecting everyone’s life – including yours. Distracting them when they are working can put their owner’s life at risk, it can even put your life at risk!
So, don’t call them, pet them, come close to them, demand their affection or anything that takes their attention away from their work.
Never Offer Food To A Service Dog
There are many reasons why you shouldn’t offer food to a service dog. Most service dogs are on a special diet and they usually don’t eat the same time their humans are eating. But the main reason why you should never offer food to a service dog is that giving table scraps leads to behaviours like begging.
The main reason why service dogs are allowed in restaurants and other places around food where other dogs are not allowed, is because they don’t disturb others for attention and for food. By offering them food, you are disregarding all the training they have done for all these years.
Remember that it’s very hard to resist food for most dogs and even if a service dog is trained to not accept food from strangers, it is very distractive for them.
Talk To Their Human
It’s very tempting to go up to the dog and say ‘hi’ in your high squeaky voice and pet them but when it comes to a service dog, it’s important to give them as much space as you can. If you are curious, you can talk to their owners.
Remember to give the dog space as you talk to the owner, and if you are walking with them, always walk on the side of the owner, never on the side of the dog. If you have kids, always teach them to do the same.
Though this doesn’t directly, relate to how to treat service dogs in India, we would highly request you not to ask uncomfortable questions to their human. No one likes to talk about their disabilities and shortcomings and, though we don’t need service dogs, we all struggle with certain things in life.
Etiquettes With Your Own Dog
Most of our dogs are not service dogs and hence when they see other dogs they may naturally want to interact with them. When a service dog has their harness on, you must never allow your dog to interact with them.
No matter how hard your dog pulls on their leash to get to the service dog, a no means no. Please take them in the opposite direction if it’s possible and give the service dog some space to work.
Help When You Can
Most shops, malls and recreational paces are not made for disabled people and the idea of service dogs is so new in India that many places are not even service animal friendly. It’s almost impossible for specially-abled individuals to travel in India with their service dogs.
So on a rare occasion that you do see a person with a service dog and if they look like they need your help, you can talk to the person. Please respect their wishes if they say no because they’ll decline for a good reason that has nothing to do with us.
What Should You Do When You See A Service Dog Without An Owner
Service dogs are always with their owner, so when you see them without a owner, it is not normal. It may indicate that the owner is in trouble. If a dog comes to you with their service dog harness still on it means they have not been abandoned or left outside on purpose.
Don’t try to love the dog or pick the dog, instead, just follow him/her. See where they’re taking you. Once you find the person, make sure to call the police or the ambulance. Every second is crucial to save a distressed person’s life.
We hope this article was helpful to you. We understand that you may not see service dogs very often but things are changing in India. In a few years, guide dogs may become more common. It’s ready to know the rules beforehand.