The following information was reprinted with permission from Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind, Inc.
Guide dogs are the guiding eyes for people who are blind or visually impaired, and they are specially bred and trained for this most important job. There are several guidelines people must follow when in the presence of a guide dog to allow for the safety of the dog and its handler. Disregarding these guidelines can distract the dog, which can create a dangerous situation for the dog and its handler.
- Don't touch, talk, feed or otherwise distract the dog while he is wearing his harness. Do allow the dog to concentrate and perform for the safety of his master.
- Don't treat the dog as a pet. Do give him the respect of a working dog.
- Don't give the dog commands. Do allow the master to do so.
- Don't try to take control in situations unfamiliar to the dog or master. Do assist the master upon his request.
- Don't walk on the dog's left side as he may become distracted or confused. Do walk on the owner's right side but several paces behind him.
- Don't attempt to grab or steer the person while the dog is guiding him or attempt to hold the dog's harness. Do ask if the owner needs your assistance and, if so, offer your left arm.
- Don't be over-protective or overbearing when the graduate first arrives home with the new dog. Do be thoughtful, patient, and try to inspire confidence in the master. In time, you will admire the expertise of the team.
- Don't expect too much too soon. Do remember that the dog is young and that complete harmony and confidence take patience, perseverance and time.
- Don't give the dog table scraps. Do respect the master's need to give the dog a balanced diet and to maintain its good habits.
- Don't allow children to tease or abuse the dog. Do allow it to rest undisturbed.
- Don't allow your pets to challenge or intimidate a guide dog. Do allow them to meet on neutral ground when all parties can be carefully supervised.
- Don't allow the dog on your furniture or in areas of the home mutually agreed upon by the family and master. Do ask the master to correct any errant behavior or trespassing.
- Don't let the dog out of the house unsupervised. Do understand its value to the master.
- Don't pat the dog on the head. Do stroke the dog on the shoulder area but only with it's owner's approval.