Restaurant meals shared with friends and family make dining out that much more special. Fortunately for many pet parents, a growing number of locations are permitting patio dining with well-mannered pets. While some restaurants once risked fines for allowing diners and dogs to share their patio facilities, more and more cities and towns are now passing ordinances that welcome four-legged restaurant patrons – with some restrictions.
Except in the case of service animals, dining with dogs means alfresco dining — so you will want to plan accordingly, based on the weather conditions. While dog-friendly restaurants always have an outdoor patio, with its own entrance that does not require passage through the restaurant, do not assume that every outdoor patio accepts pooches. Not only do the regulations change but also your mutt might be too large for that area and the patio might be busy that day – so make a quick call before heading out
Once you do have a restaurant in mind, a little pre-trip preparation and mealtime management tips will help make your dining experience smoother — and help ensure that the restaurant will be welcoming to the next doggie diner.
- Walk your dog before arriving
Take the time to walk your dog before setting foot in the restaurant. Not only will this encourage a pet potty stop, a long walk will also tire your dog and make it more likely that he’ll be happy to just lie at your feet throughout the meal.
- Plan for off-peak visits
Planning on lunch with Lassie? Skip the noon hour when the patio is at its busiest. During the busy lunch rush, not only will your dog have less room but you will have fewer options in terms of a table that’s out of the way. Wait staff are usually far busier during the lunch rush, and because of this less accepting of that request for extra dog water or a different table.
- Keep your dog on the patio and off chairs.
While your dog is dining with you, he is not a diner – and he should never be permitted to sit on the restaurant chairs or table. Ask him to settle down at your feet. Some diners bring toys or food for their dogs to enjoy during mealtimes but some municipalities prohibit feeding dogs on restaurant patios. Water is always acceptable.
- Bring a water bowl
On the topic of water, bring a bowl for your dog. While some restaurants are happy to bring out a disposable takeout container for water (or, at some especially dog-friendly establishments, actual dog water bowls), it is easier to bring your own bowl like a collapsible silicone dog water bowl.
- Never share a restaurant plate with your dog
Yes, you might let your dog lick your plate at home — but resist the urge at the restaurant. Never allow your dog to eat from your plate.
- Keep your dog on a short leash
A short leash, wrapped around your arm so you are aware of your dog’s movement, prevents your dog from getting out in the aisle and possibly tripping wait staff or disturbing other diners.
We hope that your following these tips makes your pet a welcome doggie diner around town.