Dedicated to Improving the Lives of Blind and Visually Impaired People

Service Dogs and COVID-19 Challenges

The challenges that have complicated life for everyone since the pandemic began have had an impact on service dogs, particularly those working as guide dogs for people who are blind or visually impaired. Practices that prevent the spread of COVID, like six-feet markers or social distancing signs, can’t be read by the dog and can sometimes cause the handler to get too close to another person. The other person is not always understanding, and this has caused some conflicts, particularly when the other individual does not realize the role of the dog. As more people return to pre-pandemic routines of commuting to school or work, these difficulties can escalate. Some tips for “creative social distancing,” shared by Guide Dogs for the Blind, based in Oregon and California, include such advice as “pushing a shopping cart or holding a long cane while having the dog heel.” Read more about the challenges – and solutions – in The Washington Post article Service dogs navigate the challenges of covid: ‘The dog doesn’t understand social distancing’.