Why Do Some Service Dogs Look So Sad? [6 Reasons + 7 Facts]

Are Service Dogs Sad?

Service dogs are specially trained to assist people with disabilities in many ways. However, some people may wonder if these dogs enjoy what they are doing or if they are really sad. In this article, we’ll explore the truth behind this matter.

Contrary to popular belief, service dogs are not sad. While some people may think they look sad due to their serious expressions, focused eyes, and lack of liveliness, this is simply a myth. In fact, service dogs are trained to be calm and focused on their tasks, which may give the impression that they are not as playful or energetic as other dogs.

Service dogs are trained to enjoy their work and take pride in helping their owners. They are specially bred and trained to be able to handle the demands of their job, which can be physically and mentally challenging. Additionally, service dogs are well-cared for and receive plenty of love and attention from their owners and trainers.

In this article, we’ll explore why some people may think service dogs look sad and provide you with facts about this matter. By understanding the truth behind this myth, you can appreciate the hard work and dedication of service dogs and their importance in assisting people with disabilities. So, let’s dive into the world of service dogs and their happiness!

Are service dogs sad? Or Is it just a myth?

Dogs are very energetic, enthusiastic, and very active by nature. They can delight and inspire us in any case. So, that’s why we select dogs as our service/therapy animals too.

When they take the role of a service dog, they perform their duty at their best. If we look at a particular service dog, he is in a somewhat serious mood.

Sometimes he doesn’t show much care for outsiders when he is with his owner. Does it say that “the dog is unhappy or frustrated, eh?” NO! That’s not the thing.

Service dogs are remarkable canines. We can not treat him like a dog we are passing on the street. They are trained to perform a specific task.

They generously assist their owners, but not others. If they are unhappy, do dogs obey us? Do they do anything for us? Never! The situation is quite different if they are actually in a sad mood.

If so, it’s our duty to fix his mind with extra attention and care.

Service dogs are bound by themselves to do their task. They know what they’re supposed to do and what not. Moreover, they know at what time they have to perform their tasks.

His full attention is with his owner during working hours, as the dog prefers companionship with the owner who needs his help most. Sometimes, working or supporting the owner is his pleasure.

He does it not as a must. He feels like taking care of his owner or whatever task he has to perform, and less attention is paid to things like responding to others.

A service dog is always alert as he knows what kind of disability or difficulty his owner has. So these non-respondent expressions of the face or any other service dog behavior are misunderstood by people, leading to the myth, “Service dogs look so sad.

” I need to emphasize that this is only a myth. There is no truth behind this. Service dogs are delighted with what they are performing for their generous owners”.

So let’s see what the things that lead people to think that service dogs always look sad.

Service dogs do not get sad or frustrated with the task or the duty they are engaged in, as most people see and think. But there can be situations where our service dogs also feel woeful. This is common for all dogs and even for humans too. But here, it is about seeing service dogs in a sad mood. As the physical expressions of a service dog somewhat differ from a pet dog, we can not say that those dogs are frustrated or in pain.

Miss. Thilini Anuradha

Suggested Reading: 7 interesting things you should know about police dogs.

Why do some people think service dogs always look so sad?

The difference between a pet canine and a service dog is that a service dog is trained and responsible for his tasks, just not as a pet dog.

That doesn’t mean that service dogs are not playful, and they look piteous. But people think so. The reasons for that might be;

1. Weird facial expressions

The look on the face of a service dog is extremely different from a pet dog. When they get aware that people are looking at them, they alter their facial expressions.

Service dogs appear to be able to read our facial expressions as well as communicate with us through their own facial emotions.

That’s how they become nervous about the surrounding people. But most people identify those expression changes as weird and as they just look sad.

2. Less friskiness

People believe that it is unhappy if a dog isn’t leaping up and down, wagging his tail, frolicking, and licking people like an untrained puppy.

No, that’s unreal. Although service dogs do not do the above activities in front of outsiders, they enjoy them with their owners. That made him happy. At duty time, no extra things. Just like you and me during working hours.

3. Mostly neglecting other people

Service dogs don’t respond to the words of anyone when he is engaged in his duty. They’ve been specially trained to be in the public setting you see them in, listening for the owner’s cues, keeping an eye out for threats, and so on.

They aren’t going to appear as playful and relaxed as a pet dog for this reason.

So, people think that a service dog neglects others as he has frustrated himself. That’s not true.

4. Serious look with focused eyes

If we look at a service dog’s face at a restaurant, on the road, or whatever the place is, his eyes are not cheerful, or there is no delight there.

That’s because his sharp eyes are focused on the work which he has been assigned. His eyes are laser-focused, and he is interested only in his owner during his duty time.

Those serious looks don’t mean he is not happy; he is just focused straightly on his duty.

5. If the ears dropped down, as frustrated one

Sometimes, service dogs relax their ears by dropping them as they have to listen to commands, sounds of the surroundings, and many more all around the day.

See the way he used to chill himself? He is pleased. But people assume that he’s upset or anxious because his ears aren’t pricked.

6. They look like they lack the liveliness of dogs.

People think they’re unhappy because they don’t have the energy of dogs who aren’t submissive or if they don’t greet them or wag their tails at them when they make kissy noises.

But keep in mind that you’re looking at a well-behaved and, more than likely, a happy dog.

By the way, read this to understand what happens to service dogs when the owner dies.

Do service dogs know what they’re helping?

Sometimes the dog may know what his job is, what he has to do, and sometimes he may not. It really doesn’t matter. However, dogs love to serve their masters.

Whether he is rewarded or not for what he performs, he continues his task. But additionally, rewarding can enlighten his pleasure.

Once they get used to their own tasks, they enjoy those very much.

Service dogs love helping their owners as they consider their owners as their family. So when they are working, they look after and help their masters without any interference from anyone.

When they are off duty, the same thing happens. Whether working or not, our service dog always assists us. By the time the dog realizes the need for the owner, he starts fetching them.

But observers rarely catch this. That’s why they are of the opinion that “service dogs look sad.” The bond between a service dog and his master is a really nice thing.

And he never got frustrated or sad because of his duty, which was a part of his life.

Here is why Dobermans aren’t used as police/military dogs.

Things to be aware of.

Although service dogs are calm and alert to the environment, distracting them can put the dog and its handler in perilous situations. So let’s see what things to be aware of when there’s a service dog around.

1. Always ask permission before petting or interacting with any dog.

If you want to touch or communicate with the dog, you have to get the owner’s permission first.

As the dog is focused on his job, if you approach him suddenly, it will cause some trouble.

If it is a baby who is going to pet that dog, make sure that they don’t approach the service dog too closely.

2. Get your dog away from a service dog.

Although dogs prefer to associate with their kind, it is not the time for a service dog to be distracted by another dog’s sniffing and excited barking while he is on his duty.

So it is better to keep the pet dog away from the service dog as your dog is not under proper control.

3. Be alert for an unattended service dog

If you see a service dog with a leash or a harness but without a handler, don’t ignore him. His owner must be in trouble. So the dog is seeking help from someone.

You can identify the situation by his behavior. In a situation like this, consider following the dog behind you. It will take you to his owner. There, you can help them.

4. A sleeping dog may also be on duty.

Service dogs also take quick naps while they are on working hours. But although they are sleeping, they are not off duty.

They are on alert about what is happening in the surrounding area. So be careful when approaching a service dog with a small nap.

5. Never grab the service dog’s leash, collar, or harness.

Don’t pull the collar, leash, or harness of the service dog in any instance.

They are trained to perform according to their owner. Such sudden reactions like pulling his leash will make him anxious, too, and it would be dangerous.

6. Don’t feed a service dog unnecessarily

This is not a must. But there are some concerns to be considered when offering food to a service dog. Assume that this dog is allergic to some of the food items you are offering.

So it makes him sick. Then he won’t be able to perform his task. As well, some service dogs have specific diet plans and food schedules. Those things will become worse due to this unexpected feeding.

7. Judging a service dog is an unwanted thing.

It’s not suitable to judge a dog as every dog is not alike. If you have ever had a dangerous experience with a dog and that is the same as the breed of a certain service dog, that doesn’t mean that this dog is also wrong.

Sometimes those judgments confuse the disabled owner. That is so bad. It is more suitable not to judge a service dog as they are trained well before being assigned to a specific task.

If you are the owner of a service dog, always be alert about his food, sanitation, health, and all the other requirements of your dog.

Don’t let him distract himself from his duty and make him woeful. If needed, keep a separate consultant for our service partner too.


Service dogs are not worried about their duty at any time. They love what they do for their masters. They can even cure our minds too. Dogs are such placid and loyal companions. So we must take care of our service dog as he cares and protects us. The myth that “service dogs look so sad” is only a myth. We have given more than enough factors to prove that. So this helps you to clarify whether service dogs are actually sad or not about their work. I hope to make you aware of another specific topic in the following article!

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