A few weeks ago, a reader named Barbara asked for advice on bringing a service dog to the parks. As usual, AllEars® readers came through with lots of helpful tips and ideas!
Jody H. and many others pointed out: Look into paw protection. The asphalt and walkways get very hot and will be very hot on dog paws. Also, take shade breaks when possible and keep water on hand. I hope you enjoy the parks!
Tammy K.: Please remember the asphalt gets very hot, which could be harmful to soft dog pads. We don't notice because we have shoes on. Please consider some type for foot covering while walking with the dog in the parks to avoid injury. Also in general they can get very hot and overheated from fur especially if they are not used to being outside all day so please have a constant supply of water for your service dog. You can find easy to use refillable pet squirt bottles at the pet store. Lastly make sure to take your dog to see Pluto for a sweet picture of you all together. Happy Worlding!
Gina: My father was blind, and he and his guide dog, Newley, made many trips to WDW with my son and I. Here are the most important tips I can think of: 1.) Make sure you're out of the park or in a remote part of the park before fireworks begin. They train these wonderful animals to ignore distractions as much as possible, but the fireworks are really too much for them. 2.) Cast Members are so great about guiding you to the closest service animal ‘relief area', getting them a bowl of water, and assisting with ride lines and show seating. 3.) Don't think your service animal can't ride anything! Newley rode most everything with us, roller coasters and thrill rides aside. His favorite, for some reason, was always the now-gone Snow White's Scary Adventures. He would rest his face on the edge of the car and intently watch everything going by. We have so many great memories with my dad and Newley… Pictures of Newley adoring Pluto from years ago keep resurfacing on the internet from time to time, and I'm so grateful we all had those amazing moments together at our happy place.
Becky: With all of the things that Disney does well, the one thing I found to be challenging when in the parks with my service dog was finding the designated potty areas. They could have done a much better job with this. They are very small, often extremely difficult to find and sometimes grouped in with smoking areas. Make sure you take the time to review the park maps before heading out to the parks so you have an idea as to where they are... If it is hot you need to be cautious about your dog's paws. I've seen dogs there with booties on, but that is not something my dog would tolerate so I use Mushers paw wax on her paws. It's a wax that is used for sled dogs, but it not only protects their paws from cold and snow but also from heat... For the rides that your dog can not ride there are some options. First, would be a ride swap, which is just like rider switch with a child. You go to the cast member at the entrance to the ride and tell them you need to do a ride swap. Someone from your party will wait with your dog while the others ride and when they come off the ride someone else will take the dog and the person who waited with the dog and one other person will ride. The second person who rides with the person that waited with the dog can be someone who rode with the first group. The other option I've heard of but did not try is that for certain rides they have a crate available to keep your dog in...The disability access pass was a huge help to us. It would have been difficult to wait in long lines with my dog; it made ride swaps pretty simple and gave us the breaks we needed for my dog and for me. Taking your service dog to Disney will be a different type of trip than you have taken in the past. The pace will be slower. Lots of people will ask you questions and want to pet your dog, so be prepared for that. You'll hear many many times, "I miss my dog so much. Can I pet yours?" Have a wonderful vacation! And don't forget to get your dog their "First Visit" button to put on their vest.
Lisa N.: In June 2017 my husband and I went to the world with my service dog. Some of the best experiences are when you meet characters. My dog, Jack, loved Pluto and absolutely adored Elsa. Be sure to get PhotoPass so you have great memories captured! We stayed at Animal Kingdom Lodge and Port Orleans Riverside... Although legally you do not have to have your dog wear a vest, I find it best that they wear one. You can attach potty bags, collapsible water bowl, and people will respect more that the dog is indeed a service dog. I always carry a copy of my dog's up-to-date vaccine record in case needed. Finally, have a great time! Pace yourselves and your dog and you will have many magical moments to remember!