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Challenges of Managing Pets in Public Spaces for NDIS Participants

Challenges of Managing Pets in Public Spaces for NDIS Participants

Imagine a sunny day in the park, the laughter of children, and the soft whir of a wheelchair on a path. Beside the wheelchair trots a loyal dog, keenly attuned to its owner’s needs. This is Jane’s reality—an NDIS participant who navigates public spaces with her service animal. But not every outing is a walk in the park. Managing a pet in public spaces can pose significant challenges, particularly for those with disabilities.

Navigating the Complexities

For NDIS participants like Jane, the interaction between their disability and the public’s perception of their pet can be a delicate balance. Public spaces are not always accommodating or understanding of the support that animals provide to individuals with disabilities.

emotional support animal, emotional support cat being held by a young male

What Support do Animals provide to people with disabilities?

For someone going through the trials, setbacks, and challenges of having a disability, pets can provide that person with emotional and psychological benefits and incentive to get out of bed every day and stick to a daily routine and to develop community connections.

How do disabilities affect people?

Disabilities affect people in different ways. For example, if someone has been in pain, they can feel fatigued or irritable. Constant pain medication may make them feel constipated and uncomfortable. They may feel depressed, or even anxious when having to go out in public.

person with disabilities feeling ill with a dog on their chest for comfort

Their past interactions with people who don’t understand that 90% of disabilities are invisible – may have involved verbal abuse for parking in a disability car spot. For these reasons, their interaction with other humans may be quite low.

90% of disabilities are invisible

– Australia Wide First Aid

When pet has been a person with disability’s companion and consistent source of affection and joy for a long time in isolation, this forms a very strong bond. When a Participant is faced with the prospect of running errands, going outdoors to exercise, or visiting their local coffee shop – their anxiety can be quite sky-high. Having their pet with them can make them feel more confident, and can be a wonderful icebreaker and the catalyst to make community connections.

Socialisation is critical to desensitise Puppies

The downside of pet dogs that have not been given the opportunity to become socialised during it’s puppy critical socialisation period (between 3-12 weeks of age) means it has not been desensitised to environmental triggers such as sounds, sights and smells. So when they are taken out in public, they can quickly become reactive and often bark and become stressful, embarrassing, or a source of anxiety for Participants.

reactive dog

PetCloud’s Supportive Role

In light of these challenges, services like PetCloud can be a beacon of support. PetCloud offers NDIS-funded Community & Recreation Support, which can be particularly beneficial for NDIS participants with reactive dogs. This service helps participants manage their pets in public, ensuring both the welfare of the animal and the confidence of the owner as they navigate social spaces. The structured support helps to reduce stress and increase accessibility to public areas, encouraging a more inclusive community interaction.

Community and Recreation and PetCloud NDIS funded Support with dogs

Innovative Solutions and Community Support

The path to improved public interactions also involves community understanding and support. For instance, the introduction of more flexible NDIS plans could accommodate the varying needs of individuals with pets, not just for physical support but also for the emotional and psychological benefits they offer​​.


While managing pets in public spaces presents challenges, the support of tailored services like PetCloud’s can provide significant relief and benefits. These services not only assist in managing the practical aspects of having a pet in public spaces but also support the broader goal of social inclusion for individuals with disabilities.

How do you think community spaces could be better designed to accommodate both pets and the unique needs of individuals with disabilities?

For a free quote or call back, contact PetCloud today

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