The bond between people and their pets is undeniable. Studies show that pet owners have less stress, fewer feelings of loneliness, and are more likely to spend time outside being active and socializing with others. The Rees-Jones Foundation appreciates and understands the value of pet ownership, especially the benefit of trained assistance dogs for people with disabilities, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other types of physical and emotional difficulties. For this reason, The Foundation supports two Dallas-based, internationally accredited service dog training programs, Canine Companions for Independence and Patriot PAWS. These organizations are skilled to train various types of assistance dogs, such as:
- Service dogs to help adults with physical impairments perform daily tasks.
- Facility dogs to work in professional settings (i.e. criminal justice or health care).
- Skilled companion dogs to enhance the lives of children with disabilities.
- Assistance dogs for combat veterans who struggle with post-traumatic stress and transitioning back into civilian life.
Once dogs graduate from training and are matched with their lifelong service owner, that indescribable human-animal bond begins to form and both lives become forever changed. As a passersby, it is tempting to admire, pet, and talk to a service owner’s dog. Before doing so, it is important to know the proper etiquette. Here are some important tips to follow:
- Do not touch the assistance dog without asking permission first. It is important to remember that the dog is working and may be in the middle of a command or direction from its owner. Most dogs need to be told to be “released” from work mode before they interact with someone.
- Do not feed the assistance dog. Food can distract the dog from its work and it may be on a special diet.
- Always approach an assistance dog calmly and speak to their owner first before touching or addressing the dog.
Many times, people with assistance dogs enjoy talking to others about their canine companions. Just remember that that these dogs are trained to work every minute of the day, so it is important that we respect boundaries and the dog’s role before engaging. To read more about proper assistance dog etiquette, click here.