ABH Maryland

Valuable Things To Know When Interacting With A Service Dog


Valuable Things To Know When Interacting With A Service Dog

  • Mental Health

Service dogs are figurative and sometimes literal life savers for many owners, whether aiding people with blindness and mobility issues or assisting those with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Owners and trainers can teach service dogs to help with daily tasks and even diffuse an anxiety attack.

Many people are fond of dogs, but because service animals are most often dogs, thanks to their intelligent and obedient nature, it’s essential to know the best ways to interact with a service dog. Yes, they are often cute and are tempting to play with, but you should not treat a service dog the same as your favorite pet. This article will share six tips to follow, including what things not to do when around a service dog.

6 Tips to Follow When Around A Service Dog 

Don’t touch or distract the dog. We know, we know – they’re so stinkin’ cute! But interacting with a service dog while it is working or training can put its owner in danger. It can also make it harder for the dog to focus on the work at hand and, thus, prevent them from performing their duties to the best of their ability. Appreciate their cuteness from afar instead!

Speak to the owner/handler instead of the dog (you know… the one that speaks your language!) The dog and its owner are a team, so it’s best to approach and talk to them instead of the dog, who needs to stay focused to do their work. If you have any questions or concerns, ask the owner or handler. Thankfully, many handlers train service dogs to stay focused on their work until they receive a release command. However, it’s still best to limit their distractions. Also, remember that the owner may not want to engage in conversation. Be respectful.

Keep your dog away from a working dog. If you’re taking your dog on a walk and happen to see or pass a service dog, keep your dog away from the service dog until you’re able to ask its owner if your dog can say hello. Your dog, while not meaning to, could also be a distraction for the service dog who needs to stay present with its owner. It’s best practice to do your best to keep out of a service dog’s way while on duty.

Never offer food or a treat to a service dog. We realize it’s fun to walk around with dog treats. However, many service dogs have a strict diet and feeding schedule, and you don’t want to throw them off. The last thing you want to do is make a service dog sick or unable to get their work done because their owner depends on their help. Instead, send them positivity when you pass; it will still feel good!

Don’t interact with a sleeping service dog. It may seem like a sleeping dog is off duty as we humans probably don’t nap during our work days, but service dogs are known to take cat naps if their owner is resting. However, they’re still on the clock and need to be ready and alert as soon as their owner needs them for assistance. Again, appreciate the dog’s cuteness in their slumber from afar.

A service dog alone may need help. If a service dog approaches you solo without its owner, the owner may need help. The dog may bark or nudge you with its nose, signaling that they need your help. Remember, service dogs aim to help their owner in any way possible. Look for behavior out of the norm and help them if you can. Consider following the dog or calling for help if needed. You may help save a life! Trust your gut.

Contact Us Today

If you are someone who may benefit from a service dog or other forms of therapy, Advanced Behavioral Health is here to help. Our team has qualified and talented psychiatrists, therapists, and counselors trained in various therapeutic modalities. These treatments include Animal Assisted Play Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR), Medication Management, Psychiatric Treatment, and more. Click here to read about all of our services. Feel free to contact us at 301-345-1022 or on our website with any questions. No matter what you’re going through, Advanced Behavioral Health offers many treatment options. We look forward to meeting you where you are.

When you think of the well-being of a child, you first think of basic needs: food, water, and shelter. Once these needs are met, however, it’s crucial for a child to have emotional and social wellness as well. In this article, we will explore the impact social wellness has on the overall health of a child and great ways for children to garner social support in their lives.

It comes as no surprise that as human beings, we all need connection with others, no matter what stage of life we are in. In fact, having social support is a social determinant of health (SDOH) that significantly impacts the health of an individual. After spending the last few years in and out of isolation due to the Covid-19 outbreak, social support is more important now than ever before. Having social support means having family members and friends you can talk to and seek advice from when life feels challenging and overwhelming. Knowing you’re not alone in your life journey, especially as a child, creates a sense of belonging and empowerment throughout one’s life.

4 Types of Social Support

Emotional Support. This type of support lets you know that people care about you and have empathy for your experiences. Emotional support often looks like people checking in on you to let you know they’re thinking of you, and that they are there if you need anything. As a parent, make sure your child knows you can be a sounding board for them. If you have family members who can also show up for your children in this way, even better!

Practical Help. This type of support is when people give you something tangible or offer a service to help you out. This could be in the form of money, making food when you are sick, or helping to pack when moving. Having family and friends show up in this way shows your child what it looks like to be present for people you love.

Sharing Points of View. This type of support can often come in the form of affirmations and encouragement. For example, pointing out your child’s strengths to them and reminding them they can do anything they put their mind to. It can also look like sharing another perspective if they are being hard on themselves. For example, if they are angry with themselves after receiving a bad grade on a test, you can help them see it as a learning experience and a way for them to grow.

Sharing Information. This type of support is when someone shares what they’ve learned from their own life experiences. For example, if another parent has a child who struggles with socializing, they can share some tips and tricks they’ve learned to help their child find and create social support.

The Importance of Social Groups and Extended Support

Children who are connected to their family, friends, and people in their community have opportunities to learn how to speak, share, and get along with others. When your child feels connected to people in your neighborhood, it often allows them to feel physically safe which can alleviate stress and worry. Simply riding bikes, going on walks, and saying hello to neighbors with your kids can create this sense of security for them.

In addition to engaging with your neighbors, getting involved in local organizations can also create social support for your child. Signing up for a sports team, musical theater, art class or summer camp are all great ways to help your child meet new friends and learn important social skills that can carry them through their lives.

Tips for Helping Kids Make Community Connections:

Spend time outside in your neighborhood playing on the playground, going to a local farmer’s market, or scheduling a playdate with neighborhood kids.

Show your kids that connection is a two-way street. If your neighbors or friends go out of town, offer to get their mail, or water their plants and take your child with you when you go. This will show your child how you show up for people you care about.

Make sure you make time for socializing with friends as well. Your child looks to you first and foremost for how they should act and live their own life.

Encourage your child to step out of their comfort zone and do something they may be scared to do. As a parent, it’s your job to push them into something social for their own well-being at times.