As more and more restaurants continue to offer outdoor seating options, many pet owners are choosing to dine outdoors with their dogs at pet friendly restaurants.
Before you decide to bring your pooch to a sidewalk or patio dining experience, you’ll want to take the appropriate steps to make sure both you and your furry friend are fully prepared. Once you’re at the dog friendly restaurant, be sure to follow the proper etiquette tips in order to ensure that restaurant employees and other guests are comfortable with your pup’s presence.
Do Your Research
Before you venture out for a bite to eat with your dog, be sure to do plenty of research. For starters, conduct an online search for restaurants that allow dogs, or call ahead to ensure the restaurant you’re planning to visit is pet friendly.
Once you’ve chosen a dog friendly restaurant, check their specific pet policies, guidelines, and restrictions—for example, do they only allow dogs of a certain breed or size? Do they provide water bowls? Are there shaded areas so your pooch can avoid getting overheated?
When you arrive at the restaurant or make a reservation, let the host know that you will be bringing your dog. That way, they will be able to seat you accordingly, such as at a corner table away from other guests.
Of course, you should also consider your dog’s personality and whether he will be compatible with even the most accommodating pet friendly restaurant. If Fido has a hard time with crowds, strangers, and unfamiliar settings, it may be best to leave him at home.
(Note: leaving your dog in the car should NEVER be an option. If you’re traveling, you may need to opt for a spacious picnic-style setting.)
Take a Long Walk Beforehand
Before you and your pooch head to your dog friendly restaurant of choice, take a long walk together. This will help him get any excess energy and bathroom needs out of his system to make for a more peaceful restaurant experience. After all, a tired dog is generally a well-behaved dog!
In the days leading up to your excursion, it may also be helpful to walk in busy, noisy areas to see how your dog handles all the different sights, scents, and sounds. If it’s too overwhelming, that’s a good hint that your pup may not be able to handle joining you at a busy restaurant.
Practice Commands Together
Take some time going through familiar commands together, such as “sit,” “lie down,” and “leave it.” If you’re bringing your dog to a setting filled with food and strangers, your dog’s cooperation is crucial.
If he’s not able to predictably obey these commands, he probably shouldn’t be joining you at a restaurant—even if they allow dogs.
Bring Your Own Dog Food
Feed your dog some kibble or treats before your food arrives. This will make him less tempted to try to eat from your plate… or other restaurant guests’ plates!
Avoid feeding your dog any of your table scraps, as tempting as it may be, and definitely don’t allow him to eat directly from your plate. Not only is this potentially encouraging a bad habit, other customers may find it rude or even gross.
Instead, bring some dog food and/or chew toys to keep your dog busy and distracted while you eat.
Bring Your Own Bowls
Whether you’re dining at a BYOB restaurant or not, it’s always a good idea to bring your own bowls. Some pet friendly restaurants will be happy to provide a water bowl, but they are certainly not obligated to do so.
Bring your own dog supplies to avoid any potential issues. Plus, some guests may not be too thrilled about seeing a dog slurp from the restaurant’s dishes.
Keep Your Dog Close
Keep your dog on his leash at all times to avoid any wandering. Don’t use a retractable leash, since you want to keep him as close as possible. Plus, a long leash could be a safety hazard—you don’t want to be the reason anyone trips and falls.
Have your dog sit or lie down underneath the table, or in a spot where he’s not in the way of servers or other customers. Don’t allow him to sit on your lap, either.
Timing is Everything
Depending on how busy the restaurant gets, it may be a better idea to dine during the off-hours rather than during the lunch or dinner rush. Make it easier on yourself, your dog, restaurant employees, and other guests by eating during a less busy time of day.
Be Prepared to Change Your Plans
Even the most well-behaved dogs can have bad days. Even if you’re catching up with friends, be sure to keep your attention on your dog for the duration of the meal. If he starts acting up, you may need to take him for a quick stroll mid-meal, or even ask for a to-go box so you can leave altogether.
Pay attention to any signs of fear or anxiety; if ignored, your dog’s stress could escalate and turn into aggression or even an escape attempt.
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