The Unofficial Code of Conduct for Service Dog Handlers- by "Please Don't Pet Me"

This information used to be found on this site: Please Don't Pet Me (the creator of "Code of Conduct for Service Dog Handlers") URL -  

I believe that because of the controversy regarding the development of a single set of standards for all types of service dogs that probably this was pulled from their page.  However, I feel it is a good guide to go by so that one knows the kinds of things that are expected of a service dog.  I believe that the majority of us who are training service dogs ultimately strive for perfection.  Once we discover that perfection is impossible, we strive for as near perfect as possible.  

One thing people have to remember, as with any living creature, dogs have free agency.  That means that no matter how well- trained a dog is, the dog can choose not to obey.  The dog can choose to ignore his person.  In the process of dog training, we aim to have a dog that will choose to do the right thing more often than not.  We must remember that like no human is perfect, no dog can be perfect either.

Please Don't Pet Me's
Rowena and I "Lobbying" in Washington DC with some friends. 
Photo by Neil Young and "Timmy" SD
In compiling this list, we have taken great care to consider the variety of circumstances a service dog handler may encounter, as well as the even wider variety of needs a disability presents for each individual. While some are not universally agreed upon within the service dog community, each point reflects the foundation of common courtesy, as well as the opinions expressed by the overwhelming majority of service dog handlers with whom we have corresponded. 

Remember, every time you go out with your service dog, you are acting as ambassadors for the entire service dog community. Many people you encounter on a daily basis will have never seen a service dog team in action before. Do your best to leave others with a positive impression of service dog teams.

1. Know the Law.
Unfortunately, you will inevitably encounter people in positions of authority at businesses and other places of public accommodation who do not know the law. You should be well-versed in the laws that apply to service dog handlers (both federal and state laws).

Remember that your right to be accompanied by your do is broadly protected by the ADA but not infinite. There are circumstances under which your service dog can legally be denied access.  You should also be able to determine whether the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA), or the Federal Rehabilitation Act applies, in various situations, so you can quote the correct law.
Rowena, Christmas time in the mall.
2. Your service dog should be trained to the highest standards.
While the law does not govern minimum training standards for service dogs, disability related tasks or work should not be the only training your service dog receives.  A service dog should demonstrate impeccable basic obedience skills, excellent social manners and practical skills that are necessary for work in the real world.
Practicing opening doors
3. Do not allow your dog to interfere with others' experiences.
When you are accompanied by your dog it is your responsibility to ensure that your dog does not bother others.  He or she should not solicit attention, vocalize or otherwise act in a manner that takes away from the experience that other patrons or guests expect.
Rosie and I visit with friends in the hospital.
4. Your dog should be sanitary and well-groomed.
Service dogs should be bathed and brushed regularly.  Nails should be trimmed to an appropriate length.
Rowena accompanies me to the Emergency Room one night.
5. Be mindful of other service dog teams who are present.
Do not let your service dog interfere with another team you encounter.  If you come upon a handler who may be visually impaired, announce your dog's presence and describe your location in relation to the other team.
Rowena and Benny at a fast food restaurant
6. Respect others in the environment when positioning your dog.
Keep your service dog close to you and out of the way, whenever possible.  Don't put your dog in a down stay where he or she is blocking a pathway, door or other point of interest.

As a general rule, your service dog should not sit, stand,  or walk on a surface that is not appropriate for human foot traffic.  Unless disability related duties require otherwise, all four paws should be on the ground at all times.
Teddy opening a door.
7. Maintain an image of professionalism.
Service dogs should be identified as such.  Not only will this reduce access challenges for you, but it also sends a message to the public that you are a legitimate team and you take your role as a handler seriously.

Conduct your interaction with your dog in a professional manner.  Avoid actions that may cause the general public to confuse your service dog for a pet dog, like feeding the dog table scraps in a restaurant or allowing your dog to wander around, at the end of his or her leash.

It is gernerally a good idea for a service dog to walk, rather than to be carried by his or her handler,  in a sling or carrier.  The exceptions of course, would be circumstances that pose a danger, like a small service dog getting stepped on in a large crowd or when the dog must be carried to perform disability realted tasks or work.
Rosie accompanied me to help me choose the right guy for the job.
8. Clean or neaten up after your service dog.
It should go without saying that if your service dog doesn't feel well and has an accident of some nature, you must clean it up or ask for assistance in doing so.  You should also notify an employee of the accident so the appropreate commercial grade disinfectant can be used.

You should also take measures to either prevent or neaten up after the minor occurrences that are inevitable with most dogs.

Heavy shedding can be managed with proper grooming.  As a consideration to others, it may be a good idea for handlers of service dogs who are heavy shedders to carry a thin mat for your dog to lie on for extended periods of time or a lint roller, to minimize fur left behind.

Handlers of service dogs who are heavy droolers should carry a cloth or wipes to clean off an affected surface or to wipe off the dog's mouth as needed.

Service dogs should not enter businesses or other indoor places of public accommodation with muddy paws.

If your service dog accidentally bumps into something and knockes an item off a display rack, store shelf, etc., return the item to its rightful plave or ask for assistance to do so.
Rowena is learning how to help with laundry.
9.  Be patient with well-intended members of the general public.
The use of service dogs is still foreign concept to many people.  Not everyone will "get it" from the start, but positive reinforcement can go a long way when educationg others about service dog etiquette.  Let others know when you appreciate their consideration and willingness to learn.

Rowena on-duty with a random child who asked to have her picture taken with Rosie.  And so it was!