Saturday, 18th August 2018
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In support of recent changes by the Food Safety Authority allowing domestic pets access to food businesses, Irish Guide Dogs for the blind has published its ‘Five Top Tips’ for pet owners looking to bring their dog or cat to a restaurant or bar. The organisation believe this is a great initiative and now hope to help inform pet owners on how to interact with their Clients and their dogs.

Speaking on the release Lean Kennedy, spokesperson for Irish Guide Dogs said, "Guide dogs and Assistance dogs are highly trained, reliable and sociable working animals. They undergo two years of training before they qualify as a Guide dog or Assistance dog. A key feature of the training is how to behave in public places, such as food businesses, i.e. coffee shops and restaurants. Essentially, the Guide dog or Assistance dog lies quietly alongside its owner’s feet, at all times on a lead, not pestering other customers. From a young age our puppies visit public places for socialisation in preparation for their future role as a Guide dog or an Assistance dog."

"We wanted to share some of this learning and training with pet owners who will now be able to bring their pets with them to these premises. It is also important that we raise awareness among pet owners of the importance of being pet aware when a Guide or Assistance dog is working near them and their pet. We would like to share some nuggets of information we have gathered in how best to ensure pets are well-behaved and sociable in food businesses. "

These are just some tips Irish Guide Dogs hopes people find helpful when preparing to visit a food business (with the food business owner’s consent).

Happy dining and shopping all.

- Keep your pet, dog or cat, on a lead at all times.

- If you encounter someone with a guide dog or assistance dog in a food business, please shorten the lead so that your pet can not reach over to sniff and greet the guide dog or assistance dog, essentially distracting the guide dog or assistance dog from its work of keeping its owner safe.

- Encourage your pet to sit alongside your feet or under the dining table. It is important your pet does not block the way and cause a possible trip hazard for a Guide Dog user.

- It may be beneficial for you to carry some of your dog’s food, generally dog food nuts, as a real reward for your domestic animal when visiting food businesses.

- Above all, please do take precautions to ensure your pet does not distract a guide dog from its role of guiding its owner or as assistance dog from keeping a child with ADS safe and calm in public places. If you have a small domestic pet you may consider picking it up and carrying it in your arms when passing by someone with guide dog or assistance dog.

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