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Hands Off Our Harnesses

What is “Hands Off Our Harnesses”?

The Canadian General Standards Board has drafted a set of standards which, if implemented, would impose conditions on the training and use of service dogs. The standard includes guide dogs which are dogs for the blind and visually impaired, and are therefore, by definition, not merely service dogs.

Further, the content of the standard is inconsistent with the use and training of guide dogs. Many Canadians get their guide dogs from the United States, and both American and Canadian schools find these standards at odds with standard training and use of guide dogs. American schools are concerned that, if these standards are accepted, they may stop accepting Canadian applicants. This would force Canadians to apply to the very few extant Canadian schools which already have long waiting lists. The increased demand would greatly lengthen wait times. For these reasons, it is of the utmost importance that these draft standards not be implemented as they now exist.

The draft service dog standards were presented for comment by the Canadian General Standards Board (CGSB) in May 2017 and the comment period ended July 14, 2017.

Following notification and mobilization of guide dog users across the country in late June, there was much discussion and circulation of the draft standards beginning in early July. As a result, many comments and submissions were made to the CGSB by members of this group, their spouses, friends and supporters. Submissions were also made by various guide dog schools and user groups.

While the commenting period is now closed, we encourage you to join the discussion/mailing list, as strategy development for a community response is ongoing in advance of the CGSB committee’s next meeting in late September.

Here’s how to join the ongoing discussion:

To subscribe or unsubscribe to the Service Dog Standard mailing list via the Web, visit

or, via email, send a message with subject or body ‘help’ to

Send Service Dog Standard mailing list submissions to

You can reach the person managing the list at

The address of the "Hands Off Our Harnesses" blog is

To search for the Facebook page, do a search on Facebook for "hands off our harnesses".

When posting on social media about the issue use one of the following hashtags. #HOOH or #IGDFFreeChoice


This blog is curated by the AEBC, but welcomes contributions from members and non-members alike. The thoughts, views, and opinions expressed in the Blind Canadians Blog are those of the contributing authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the AEBC, its members, or any of its donors and partners.
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