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The importance of Seeing Eye Dogs etiquette  

Seeing Eye Dogs help people who are blind move through the community more freely, allowing them to maintain active and independent lives. 

When a Seeing Eye Dog is at work, they are trained to ignore distractions. This supports the safety and wellbeing of both the dog and their handler. It’s also vital for community inclusion that Seeing Eye Dogs behave appropriately in spaces that are usually off limits to pet dogs.

You can learn more about Seeing Eye Dog access rights here or keep reading for commonly asked questions about Seeing Eye Dog etiquette. 

Why can’t you touch a Seeing Eye Dog? 

Pats and cuddles from dog lovers may be well-intentioned, but they distract Seeing Eye Dogs from their important job. This is why if you see a Seeing Eye Dog in harness or wearing a coat, you should be aware that they are at work. Never distract, feed or touch a Seeing Eye Dog at work without express permission from their handler. 

Can my dog sniff or greet a Seeing Eye Dog?

If you are walking your pet dog by a Seeing Eye Dog, please keep them under control and on a leash to pass by without distraction. It’s important not to let your pet dogs sniff and greet a Seeing Eye Dog while they’re working to avoid distractions and risk. 

How can I help someone with a Seeing Eye Dog?

If you meet someone with a dog guide, remember that their Seeing Eye Dog is supporting their independence and they may not require any assistance in some scenarios. The best approach is to ask the person if they would like any help, as you would with someone who has full use of their sight. 

You don’t need to avoid offering help to someone with a Seeing Eye Dog, but remember that it’s polite to speak directly to the person rather than their dog. 

How can I make my home or business more accessible to Seeing Eye Dogs?

There are many ways you can make your environment more accessible to people with Seeing Eye Dogs. These include:

  • Keeping pathways clear of obstacles
  • Trimming bushes and trees to your fence line to avoid overhanging onto the footpath
  • Leave doors fully open or fully closed
  • Treat people like you would any other customer by making them feel welcome
  • If you use signage to prohibit dogs, include wording to let people know that service dogs, assistance dogs and Seeing Eye Dogs are welcome 

What is the best way to accompany someone with a Seeing Eye Dog? 

If your walking companion is working with a Seeing Eye Dog, try to position yourself slightly behind their right shoulder. If they instruct their dog to “follow” and you are providing directions, walk about one metre ahead and continue talking to the person. 

What do I do if I see something wrong with a Seeing Eye Dog? 

You can alert a person to any unusual behaviour or change in physical appearance of their dog. They can determine the best course of action depending on the situation and whether they need further assistance. 

Where can Seeing Eye Dogs go in Australia?

A Seeing Eye Dog can legally accompany their handler in any public space including restaurants, retail outlets, public transport, taxis and more. There are very few exemptions to this law, with operating theatres and some walk-through exhibits in zoos the only place where a dog guide couldn’t work effectively. You can learn more about access rights here.

Seeing Eye Dogs are welcome everywhere

It’s illegal to discriminate against a person for using a Seeing Eye Dog 

Thank you for your support in making Seeing Eye Dogs welcome everywhere. You can learn more about Seeing Eye Dogs access rights and Australian laws by using the links or number below.

Seeing Eye Dog Access Rights Call 1800 037 773