Service dogs are like any other dog cute and adorable, most of us want to just go up and pet them. However, you can’t or shouldn’t. A service dog is working for their handler and should not be disturbed. Any petting or distracting of a service dog could potentially put his owner in danger. Distracting a service dog could prevent the service dog from recognizing signs or behaviors from their handler that could be life-saving. The service dog's attention could be drawn with just a hand wave or just say a word to them which could cause them to miss a trigger or scent their owner. It is important to remember that a service dog is not a pet but rather a medical necessity and has a responsibility and loyalty to his handler to keep him safe and secure.
Each service dog’s training is specific to the handler’s needs; hearing the door knock, when someone is calling them, when the fire alarm is going off, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack and etcetera. Pending what the service dog is being training for there are diabetic service dogs, seizure service dogs, seeing-eye dogs, mobility service dogs and so one. Each will be trained for the specific condition of their handler.
If you are to come around or in contact with a service dog it is best to:
Communicate eye to eye with the handler, not their dog. Do not just approach the dog and pet without requesting, however, it is best just not to pet the dog even though it is hard to resist. Please if possible allow the service dog to pass with room; even though the disability may not be visible there is a disability there. If you are uncomfortable or their dog is in the way, please let the handler know so they can adjust their service dog.
It is best no to do the following when a service dog is present:
Again, do not pet without permission. Do not distract the service dog in any matter. Do not feed the service dog. Do not ask questions about the handler’s disability it may be an uncomfortable situation for them to discuss.
The Americans with Disabilities Act is a federal law that prevents discrimination against people with disabilities and their service animals in public and private places. Even though ADA does not require you to register your service dog, the state laws may vary and have further regulations for you and your service dog, so it is best to research for your specific state or a state you will be visiting so that you and your service dog will be in regulation.