Guide Dog Tips

Welcoming a new guide dog team to your community? Learning more about guide dogs can help ensure that new teams can safely continue their work together.

Tips for friends, family and neighbors on interacting with a guide dog team

Don’t distract a working dog.

When a guide dog is in harness, they need to remain focused on working, devoting their attention to guiding their handler. Never pet a working dog, as this can distract them from their very important work.

Always ask.

Even when the dog is out of harness and not actually guiding, the handler is responsible for their behavior to ensure they are well-mannered. Always ask for permission before interacting with the dog, so that the handler can maintain control.

No people food.

Guide dog handlers are responsible for maintaining proper health and nutrition standards for their dogs.  Don’t give the dog any special treatment that the dog’s owner would not want to continue. Offering food can interfere with the owner’s efforts to maintain good behavior patterns.

Keep your pet on his leash.

Guide dogs get to relax and play when they are at home. When you see a guide dog working, make sure to keep your pets at a distance, allowing the guide dog to focus.

Help spot service dog fraud.

It’s important to know the difference between a working dog and a pet. Guide dog teams are specially trained to maintain behavior that is appropriate for public access. The ability to travel freely in public space is a privilege that is earned and protected by law.


Emotional support animals are not service dogs as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act.  Like pets, these dogs do not have formal public access training and can put working guide dog teams in danger due to inappropriate interactions and behaviors. 

Working with a Guide Dog Team – Five Tips for Friends and Family