Service Dog Etiquette

Service dogs are important partners to their disabled patients, helping them with orientation, mobility and essential tasks. Follow these best etiquette practices, we have compiled together with the State Board of Guide Dogs for the Blind and Canine Companions for Independence.


Service dogs don't require proof of certification or medical documentation to enter public patient care areas of the hospital or care center. If it is not apparent that the animal is a service dog, you can only ask the following two questions:

  • Is the dog required because of a disability?
  • What work or tasks has the dog been trained to perform?
No other questions about a person's disability or the dog are permitted.


Always ask permission to approach the service dog. Service dogs are working -- do not engage directly with a service dog without permission. Please do not be offended if the handler says "I'm sorry, but no- they're working". Depending on the job, it can be a distraction to the dog doing their job by interacting with someone other than the dog owner/handler.
Always address the person directly -- don't "talk over his or her head" to the dog or a human companion.
Do not draw unnecessary attention to a person with a service dog. Interact with the person as you would with any other person or visitor.

At the hospital or doctor’s office:

Ask how best to accommodate the service dog during the medical appointment or hospital stay. If necessary, ask who is designated to care for the dog during a medical procedure or hospital stay.


In an emergency, someone else might need to look after the service dog. Take the following steps:

  • If the patient is able to communicate, ask them who they want to care for their dog and how best to accommodate the patient and service dog.
  • If the patient is unable to communicate, find out if the dog came from a school or training program. Look for identifying information on the dog's harness or collar. Contact the school or training program if the dog was provided by a program. If this is not an option, contact family members or friends. Contact animal control as a last resort, ONLY after these options are exhausted.
JayDee's Proud-Haus Shepherds
Montello, WI
608.618.K911 (5911)