Here’s what to do if you’re approached by a service dog without their owner

Most of us have seen service dogs with their owners and we’ve always been told to never pet or touch them. We also generally know that you’re likely to see a service dog in places where you might not see other dogs, like a grocery store. But what if a service dog approaches you while their owner is nowhere in sight? Well – this could mean something quite serious.

A Tumblr post recently went viral explaining the dangers of ignoring an unaccompanied service dog and what to do if you ever see or you are approached by one.  The post tells the story of a woman who tripped and fell while she was with her service dog. The dog had been trained to immediately find an adult if she fell or had a seizure and locked eyes on a passerby.

“So today I tripped. Fell flat on my face, it was awful but ultimately harmless. My service dog, however, is trained to go get an adult if I have a seizure, and he assumed this was a seizure (were training him to do more to care for me, but we didn’t learn I had epilepsy until a year after we got him).

“I went after him after I had dusted off my jeans and my ego, and I found him trying to get the attention of a very annoyed woman. She was swatting him away and telling him to go away. So I feel like I need to make this heads up,” the story continues.

“Don’t get scared, don’t get annoyed, follow the dog! If it had been an emergency situation, I could have vomited and choked, I could have hit my head, I could have had so many things happen to me.

“We’re going to update his training so if the first person doesn’t cooperate, he moves on, but seriously guys. If what’s-his-face could understand that lassie wanted him to go to the well, you can figure out that a dog in a vest proclaiming it a service dog wants you to follow him,” the post concludes.

The woman’s story was also confirmed by a service dog trainer. She said:
“What they’re going to do is take their nose and nudge your leg. If you see a dog in vest without a person attached to it, follow it.The verbal cue is not going to be a secret password.You can say, ‘What?’ or ‘Where?’ or just start walking.”


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