Meeting dogs is fun, so we get why you might want to meet all of them, even service dogs. But it’s crucial — lifesaving — that you recognise the difference between a pet and a dog that’s doing a job. As the blog Mashable explains, if you distract a service dog, you could endanger the life of its owner.
The most important is that you do not go up to a service dog and start interacting with it like it’s a normal dog. If you see a service harness or vest on a dog, that dog is helping its owner function in the world. If you want to meet or pet the dog, you need to ask the handler’s permission first.
Mashable cites Hayley Ashmore, who fell and injured her head while her seizure-alert dog was distracted.
If you have your own dog nearby, you need to keep it away from the service dog too. Even a well-trained service dog can be distracted by people or other dogs, so it’s your responsibility to let that dog stay focused on its job.
Mashable has a lot more advice on interacting with service dogs. If you want to meet those dogs without being a jerk to their handlers and owners, read up.