Dog-Friendly Restaurant Etiquette
Dog-friendly restaurants are popping up everywhere, and many are now offering outdoor seating for pet owners and their dogs. Enjoying a scrumptious meal while relaxing at a restaurant with your dog is a privilege, so proper dog restaurant etiquette is a must.
1. Leashed Dogs Only
When dining at dog-friendly restaurants, keep your dog on a short leash that’s preferably 4 feet long. Short dog leashes prevent dogs from bugging nearby guests while they eat, snatching fallen food crumbs from nearby tables, or jumping on tables and servers. While it’s tempting to tie your dog’s leash to your chair or table, it’s best to attach it to yourself instead.
For smaller dogs, tie the handle around your belt loop or wrist. For larger dogs, I’d recommend attaching the handle of your dog’s leash to your belt. Unbuckle your belt and slide your belt through the leash handle, and then refasten your belt. If this is too complicated, try waist belts or simply hold your dog’s leash with one hand.
2. No Barking Please
Barking dogs will be asked to leave. If your dog barks at people or dogs, it’s best to keep him at home. Some dogs are uncomfortable in fast-paced environments even if they’re dog-friendly places. They end up hiding under chairs. Movement can scare some dogs too, especially when guests or servers walk toward your table. If, at any time, your dog becomes fearful, worried, stressed or vocal, ask your server to box your meal up to go. It’s the right thing to do for your dog. 🙂
3. Polite Manners are a Must
Dogs should sit quietly near their pet owners and relax while waiting at dog-friendly restaurants. This is tough for most dogs though because they easily get excited around people. Before going to a dog-friendly restaurant, make sure he’s able to “sit,” “down” and “stay” on cue in high distraction areas.
Additionally, your dog shouldn’t jump up on people or pull on leash. Teaching polite manners around myriad distractions may take years before a dog is comfortable enough to relax in a restaurant. Practice, practice and practice some more before expecting your dog to sit quietly for an hour. Start slow by popping into a dog-friendly cafe and practice “settle” while waiting for your order.
4. Bring a Portable Water Bowl
Dogs get thirsty, so bring along a collapsible water bowl. Ask your server for a glass of water, and pour it into your dog’s bowl. Place your dog’s bowl under your table to avoid guests’ feet or your dog from knocking it over. Replenish water as necessary, especially on warm days.
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5. Choose a Quiet Location
Most dog-friendly restaurants offer outdoor seating for pet owners and dogs, so choose a quiet location. Ask for a table off in a corner and away from high traffic areas. Remember, not all guests like dogs, and many may startle when seeing a dog in their path. Additionally, a quiet location prevents guests and servers from stepping on your dog, and provides a nice place for your dog to truly relax.
6. Keep Your Dog Busy
Expecting a dog to sit quietly for an hour around food, noise and fast-moving people in a strange location is impossible. Bring plenty of high-value chew toys or food stuffed toys for your dog to enjoy. Bully sticks are a great high value treat that will keep your dog busy for 10-20 minutes, depending on your dog’s chewing style. If your dog refuses to chew or lick high value treats, he may be nervous. When in doubt, ask the server to box your food up to go.
As pet owners, we represent all pet owners. Take your time and teach your dog how to politely react in a restaurant environment. It will make us all look good! 🙂