What to do if a service dog approaches you without its owner

Service dogs and guide dogs often share a special relationship with their owners.

Whether it’s opening or closing doors, retrieving things from the ground, picking things off shelves, guiding a wheelchair, turning lights off and on, or simply ensuring the path ahead is safe, a service dog is an invaluable companion for people less able than others.

But what happens if you come into contact with a service dog who doesn’t appear to have an owner nearby? The immediate thought process might be that it has been abandoned or turned loose.

However, there’s likely a reason they’re on their own, and it can mean the difference between life and death…

Thanks to a woman named Melissa Hope, more people are able to learn a vital piece of information. We would encourage you to share this article, so you can raise awareness about what to do if a lone service dog approaches you.

So, what do you do? Well, we’ll explain…


This information was originally posted on Tumblr, and has since been distributed widely.

“If a service dog without a person approaches you, it means that the person is down and in need of help.” 

One day, the author of the Tumblr post tripped up and fell flat on their face. Despite not being seriously hurt, the owner’s service dog immediately leapt into action and ran off looking for another adult to alert – just as it was trained to do.

“I went after him after I had dusten off my jeans and my ego, and I found him trying to get the attention of a very annoyed woman. She was swatting him away and telling him to go away. So I feel like I need to make this heads up”

Service Dog, Assistant Dog

Always keep in mind that if a service dog approaches you and looks like it’s trying to relay information, its owner may be a life-threatening position.

“Don’t get scared, don’t get annoyed, follow the dog! If it had been an emergency situation, I could have vomited and choked, I could have hit my head, I could have had so many things happen to me.”

“It’s important”

Many people on Tumblr have praised the author’s decision to share this information. I agree, for I certainly had no clue about this before!

Kika_GuideDog / Twitter

On this occasion, things turned out OK. In another instance, however, that might not be the case, so having this knowledge really could save lives.

Please help us spread this valuable information around the internet. Pass it on to anyone you know by hitting the SHARE button.