September is National Guide Dog Month, a time celebrate all guide dogs and CNIB has some simple-to-follow guide dog etiquette tips.
Guide dogs are specially bred and trained to provide mobility assistance to people who are blind or partially sighted. They are a partner in independence, but there needs to be a better understanding about what to do when encountering a guide dog pair.
"I do understand that my guide dog Yanni is pretty irresistible. When he is working and in harness it makes navigation and maintaining our connection much easier if people pretend he is invisible. If he gets distracted, he is the one that is reprimanded,” says Bobby Weir, the Manager of Programs and Services who works at the CNIB Kelowna office.
Following 4 simple rules will ensure appropriate social behaviour in the dogs and reduce the risk of dangerous situations for the guide dog pair.
- Harness on means hands off. A guide dog in harness means "Please don't distract me, I'm working."
- Don't feed them. Especially when guide dogs are working in harness. Offering food can result in antisocial behaviour such as begging and scavenging off the ground.
- Contain your excitement. Don't encourage excitable play. Guide dogs are given access to public places where other dogs are not permitted, so they must stay calm.
- Say "hello" another time. If you're walking your pet dog and you approach a guide dog pair, take your dog away from the guide dog.
CNIB is committed to advocating with and for guide dog users to increase public awareness and break down barriers that impede accessibility.