August 5th-11th is International Assistance Dog Week (IADW). This week is dedicated to honoring assistance dogs and educating the public about how these specially trained animals aid people in our communities. Here are some important guidelines to follow when encountering an assistance dog team.

Do:
Approach an assistance dog team calmly and speak to the human partner first.

Don’t:
Touch, pet, or address the dog without asking permission. Touching an assistance dog is a distraction and may prevent the dog from tending to their human partner.

Do:
Use the encounter with an assistance dog team to educate others, especially children, about the importance of service dogs and why it’s important to not interfere with the team’s work.

Don’t:
Offer food to an assistance dog. According to Canine Companions for Independence, “Food is the ultimate distraction to the working dog and can jeopardize the working assistance dog team.” Plus, the dog may be on a special diet and feeding schedule.