PDPM > About Service Dogs > Let Sleeping Dogs Lie...
Let Sleeping Dogs Lie
Always assume that a service dog, who is identified as such by either a patch or working dog equipment, is on-duty and should not be disturbed.
Occasionally, a service dog may take advantage of a break in activity to take a short nap. This occurs under a variety of circumstances, most commonly while the service dog handler is eating a meal in a restaurant, attending a college lecture or enduring a long staff meeting. Some dogs decide to take a rest under different circumstances than others. For example, while a handler searches for a particular item on a store shelf, the service dog may decide to lie down and have a rest.
Service dog Sam (Australian Cattle Dog), takes a power nap, using her handler's purse as a pillow.
Many individuals, who are not familiar with the service dog lifestyle, may perceive a sleeping or resting service dog as one who is failing to perform his or her intended job. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for some people to make condescending comments to service dog handlers, under such circumstances. These people do not realize that a service dog who lies down and takes advantage of a power nap opportunity is ready to spring into action and assist his or her handler at a moment’s notice. In fact, especially in the cases of service dogs whose primary jobs are to alert or respond to a crisis, these service dogs have developed awe-inspiring abilities to maintain a constant awareness of their handler’s needs.
Ultimately, the decision of whether a dog lies down for a quick snooze or just for a break, will depend on what works best for the individual team. A service dog who lies down without being told to is not being disobedient, but rather making an intelligent decision to do what he or she deems appropriate for the situation. A service dog has the intellectual capacity to differentiate between which decisions he or she can make independently and which decisions are at the sole discretion of the handler.
Please show the same respect to a service dog at rest that you would to one who is obviously performing a disability-related task. Even if the service dog doesn’t appear to be doing anything of significance, disrupting a service dog at rest can interfere with his or her ability to immediately respond to the handler’s needs, as they arise.