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Woman sitting on a bench with her service dog.

How should my PSD behave in public?

Growing up, our parents told us not to act like animals in public — but we would have probably been better off acting like PSDs! 


The short: Service dogs can accompany handlers in all public spaces, but must remain calm, quiet, on-leash, and under control.


Before you take your PSD out and about, here’s what you should know: 


Public Behavior Expectations 

Dogs who qualify as Psychiatric Service Dogs under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) are granted legal protections and more access to public spaces than regular Emotional Support Animals (ESAs). Your PSD can legally accompany you where the general public is welcomed, including restaurants and stores.


The best way to ensure that your PSD receives smooth access to wherever you want to go is to keep their behavior under control, which shouldn’t be a problem if they’re well trained


Here are the expectations for how your PSD should behave in public: 

    • Relaxed: PSDs should remain calm and focused on their owner’s needs at all times, and not be distracted by other people, dogs, or environmental factors.
    • On-leash: PSDs must stay on a leash or harness unless it interferes with their tasks. The leash should be short enough to keep them close, but long enough to allow them to navigate comfortably.
    • Quiet: PSDs should not bark, whine, or growl unnecessarily. But if they're trained to alert for a medical condition or danger, they may make noise to perform their responsibility.
    • Distanced: Other people should not pet, play with, or distract a working PSD, as it can interfere with the dog's ability to focus on their responsibilities. 
    • Hygienic: PSDs must be trained to relieve themselves in appropriate and designated locations.


If your PS follows the above criteria, they should have no problems accessing public spaces, including movie theaters, restaurants, shopping malls, and any other public place where you’d benefit from their support. Maybe pick them up a nice treat while you’re out as a thank you! 


We hope this answers your question about how your PSD should behave in public. If you have any more questions, contact us here