What You Need to Know When Taking Your Dog to a Restaurant.

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It is not uncommon to see people out to eat with their dog. More and more restaurants are becoming dog-friendly. Whether you’re wanting to experience something new with your pooch or are traveling and don’t want to leave your pup alone in the car, here are some tips to keep in mind.

Photo by: @misskiyaluna

1. Not ALL restaurants are pet friendly.

While most dog lovers agree that they should be, some places won’t let you bring your pup with you. If they don’t have outdoor seating or they are a fancier restaurant, odds are they don’t allow it. While typically restaurants can’t deny a person who has a service animal, it is never a good idea to “fake” your way into the place. They will most likely be able to tell, and if anything goes wrong, you will be held accountable.

2. Call ahead of time to make sure.

If you’re unsure if a restaurant is welcoming to dogs, your safest bet is to just call. You don’t want to just walk into a place with your pup if they’re unwelcome. It makes for an all around uncomfortable situation. Sometimes, even if an establishment is dog friendly they will have special requirements to follow. Calling ahead gives you the opportunity to come prepared!

Photo by: @gunner.thegsp

3. Follow all the pet rules!

When taking your dog out to eat with you, there will always be rules. This is to ensure the safety of others and your dog. There should be a sign stating the pet rules, but if not always ask! Most of the time, these rules are state mandated and regulated by the FDA Food Code. It’s a good idea to look up the regulations in the state you are eating in. Most of the time these rules are generally the same, they include:

  • All restaurant employees must wash their hands after touching an animal.
  • Patrons in designated pet friendly areas will be advised to wash their hands before eating. There should be water less hand sanitizer available as well.
  • Dogs can not come in contact with any silverware, tableware, serving dishes, or linens.
  • Dogs should be leashed at all times.
  • Dogs can not be on any furniture such as tables or chairs.
  • Dogs should remain on the ground or in a stroller and can not be on patrons lap.
  • Reasonably contained dogs only.

4. Bring water and treats for your pooch.

Restaurants aren’t required to provide special dog bowls for your pup to drink from. Since, it’s against regulations for your dog to come in contact with any serving dishes, this leaves little for them to drink from. Even if you just provide a bowl for your dog, I’m sure your server would have no problem filling it for you. Treats also provide your dog with a distraction if they are getting a little antsy. It will also steer them away from trying to get your food.

Photo by: @big.tedd.cavoodle

5. Be respectful of non dog lovers.

Believe it or not, some people just don’t care for dogs. Be considerate of others around you and make sure that your dog doesn’t bother anyone. Usually the host will seat you in an area that is open and outside. Most people sitting in this area should be aware that it is welcoming to dogs. If your dog is barking or causing a disturbance, it’s better to leave the area for a bit to let your pup burn off some steam. Taking them for a short walk around the parking lot is a great way to redirect their attention.

6. Feed your pup before heading out.

Nothing is worse than a hungry pooch at a restaurant. To avoid your dog acting like a wild banshee, load them up with their own delicious food to curb their appetite. This will make for an overall better experience for everyone!

Photo by: @xlilyx._.x

7. Come prepared with a leashed dog.

In all honesty, it doesn’t make a great first impression to walk into a restaurant with a loose dog. Some places will even deny you service if you don’t have a leash for your pup. Even if your dog does great without a leash, it can make other customers and maybe even employees uncomfortable. You can’t blame them, they don’t know how sweet your dog really is!

8. Dine at slow hours.

This is an awesome tip that I learned through experience. Going out to eat at the busiest time will make things hectic for you and your dog. If there is a wait, chances are your dog is not going to want to sit in a cramped area doing nothing. It also will mean when you are seated their will be loads of other people around. Some may be a little closer to you than you want. This can be uncomfortable even without a dog, but will make for an unpleasant experience. It’s always better to go out right after the breakfast or lunch rush is over. It makes for a much more chill environment.

Photo by: @rainatheaussie

9. Be prepared to leave.

Sometimes your pup is just not in the mood to socialize. Just like us they get anxious in new places. Don’t be upset if your dog gets too hyper to stay through the whole meal. Asking for a doggie bag isn’t the end of the world. Your server will most likely understand and will be happy to help you!

10. Try it out a couple times.

Don’t be discouraged if the first time things don’t go as planned. You have to get your pooch acquainted with the foodie lifestyle. If you’re extra nervous about taking your dog out to eat, start small with a coffee date. That way you have already paid for your beverage, and are able to get up and go immediately when you feel things getting out of control. You can work up to the longer outings with time and practice!