Picture of a dog looking happy, sitting with its owner at a dog-friendly restaurant

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As a pet parent, you want your dog to go everywhere with you. While you, unfortunately, can’t take your dog everywhere, more public places are becoming dog-friendly, allowing you to enjoy time with your dog outside the yard. Of course, you’ve heard of pet-friendly hotels, but what about dog-friendly restaurants? Taking your dog to a dog-friendly restaurant can give you a fun activity to enjoy together and improve your bond.

That said, dog-friendly restaurants aren’t right for all dogs. You should use your best judgment to determine if taking them to a public place is safe. Once you’ve determined that your dog would enjoy going to a restaurant, there are several things to consider before you jump in the car. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about dining with your dog at dog-friendly restaurants.

How to Find Dog-Friendly Restaurants

The easiest way to find dog-friendly restaurants is to do an online search for restaurants in your area that allow dogs. In most cases, your dog won’t be allowed inside the restaurant due to certain health codes. However, many restaurants have outdoor seating that allows dogs, so you and your dog can enjoy a delicious meal together on a patio.

Of course, you should always check a restaurant’s dog policies before taking your dog to a restaurant. You can check their website or call them ahead of time to ensure they allow dogs and what the rules are. For example, some restaurants may have breed or size restrictions.

Tips for Dining with Your Dog

After finding a dog-friendly restaurant, pack up all your dog’s belongings, such as their harness, collar, leash, treats, water, and bags to clean up after them. Then, when you’re ready to head out, follow these simple tips:

Take your dog for a walk

Going for a walk can help your dog expel any energy they have, which can help keep them calm while in public. If your dog normally goes on a morning walk, ensure you take them before heading to the restaurant because it allows them to relieve themselves beforehand.

Feed them beforehand

While you may want to dine with your dog, it’s always best to feed them beforehand to prevent them from being tempted by all the delicious-smelling human food around them.1 Alternatively, you can schedule your meal around their feeding time and bring their food bowl or a long-lasting food puzzle with you (if the restaurant allows). Dogs with full stomachs will be less likely to try to eat your or another person’s food. Additionally, it will prevent them from walking up to strangers trying to enjoy their meals.

Keep your dog on a leash

Most dog-friendly restaurants will require your pet to be under your control at all times, which means they must be on a leash. A short, six-foot leash is usually best because it can help you keep them close to you to prevent them from greeting other people who don’t want to be bothered.

Keeping your dog on a leash at pet-friendly restaurants is good etiquette because it will make other patrons feel safe. While you know your dog, strangers don’t, and they want to be able to enjoy themselves at the restaurant. Therefore, you should always keep your dog on a leash when in public, unless in a leash-free dog park, to ensure the safety and comfort of others.

It’s also important to note that you should hold the leash at all times. While it might be tempting to tie them to the chair or table, it can be dangerous and lead to property damage. For example, if you tie your dog to a chair and they get excited and try to run, they might take the whole chair or table with them. So instead, always hold their leash, even while you’re eating.

Before bringing your dog to a dog-friendly restaurant, make sure they are properly trained and know how to behave around strangers and other dogs.

Make sure your dog is trained

Before you can take your dog to restaurants that are dog-friendly, you must ensure they’re properly trained. They should know how to behave around strangers and other dogs, which means ignoring them and staying calm. If your dog doesn’t reliably sit, stay, leave it, or look at you, they’re not ready for a public meal together. Instead, you must work on training them on these basic commands because it will ensure their safety and the safety of others.

For example, teaching them the “leave it” cue will prevent them from eating potentially dangerous food off the ground. Meanwhile, ensuring they can sit through the entire meal without getting too excited will prevent them from running off or bothering other people.

Bring a water bowl and treats

Some pet-friendly restaurants will have perks for dogs, like water bowls.1 However, some might not. Therefore, you must bring your dog a bowl and treats so they can stay hydrated. Since you’ll most likely be eating outdoors in the hot sun, you should provide your dog with enough clean drinking water to prevent dehydration and heat exhaustion. Consider investing in a collapsible bowl that will fit in your bag and a water bottle from home to fill it up.

In addition to fresh water, you should always bring treats because they’ll help focus your dog’s attention on you and reward them for good behavior. For example, if your dog gets distracted by another dog and gets excited, trying to pull you over to them, you can use treats to refocus their attention.

Clean up after your dog

The best dog-friendly restaurants understand that sometimes dogs need to do their business and relieve themselves at inconvenient times. These establishments might provide bags and waste stations for your convenience.

However, many dog-friendly restaurants don’t, which is why giving your dog the opportunity to go for a long walk before you go to the restaurant is important. If your dog happens to relieve themselves at the restaurant, you should always have a bag prepared so you can clean up after them immediately.

Be mindful of your dog’s behavior

It’s essential to know your dog before you go anywhere in public, especially dog-friendly restaurants where they’ll be around strangers and other dogs. Consider your dog’s behavior on walks. For example, if they lunge, bark, or try to pull you toward other people and pets, they’re probably not ready to be close to others. Not all dogs should visit dog-friendly restaurants because it could cause unnecessary stress and fear-based undesirable behavior.

Additionally, even if your dog is well-trained, socialized, and behaves well around people and other pets, the experience of going to a dog-friendly restaurant can be overwhelming for them. You should pay attention to your dog’s behavior and body language to ensure they’re enjoying themselves. You don’t want your dog feeling any stress during this experience because it makes them form negative associations with going in public. Instead, you want to ensure the experience is enjoyable.

Unfortunately, busy restaurants packed with people and other dogs can make even the calmest, most well-behaved dogs anxious. If your dog starts displaying signs of anxiety, such as whale eyes, shaking, panting, tucking their ear or tail back, barking, or whining, they’re likely not feeling safe.2 Therefore, you should be prepared to leave the restaurant to ensure your dog doesn’t get too anxious or stressed. Their health and safety should always come first.

You should also consider their overall behavior. Even if your dog isn’t anxious, they could get too excited and start jumping on people or approaching people and other dogs. If your dog isn’t listening to your commands, be prepared to take them home and continue working on obedience training to ensure visiting a dog-friendly restaurant is safe for your pet and others.

Make sure your dog is up to date on vaccinations & preventive care

Anytime you’re bringing your dog to a public place, whether it’s an off-leash dog park, a pet-friendly hotel, or a dog-friendly restaurant, you should make sure their vaccinations are up to date. Talk to your vet about the vaccines your pet may need, including heartworm and flea preventive medications.

Benefits of dog-friendly restaurants

Benefits of Dog-Friendly Restaurants

Pet parents love taking their pets everywhere with them, which is why so many public places are now dog-friendly. The benefits of dog-friendly restaurants include the following:

  • Increased revenue for restaurant owners: Restaurant owners can attract a wider range of patrons by allowing dogs because it makes the experience more enjoyable. People love their pets, and opening a dog-friendly restaurant can attract pet lovers from all around.
  • Socialization for dogs and their owners: Dog-friendly restaurants can benefit pet parents and their dogs because they allow dogs to socialize. Of course, your dog should be socialized during puppyhood and before visiting a dog-friendly restaurant. However, these venues allow pets to meet other pets and pet lovers to meet other pet lovers.
  • Enhanced customer experience for dog owners: Again, pet parents love going anywhere they can with their animal companions. Dog-friendly restaurants make the experience of eating at a restaurant more enjoyable because they’re with their dogs.

For the safety of your dog and others, always check a restaurant’s policies before bringing your dog with you.

Challenges of Dog-Friendly Restaurants

Traveling with a dog anywhere can be challenging because new experiences can be stressful. Unfortunately, dog-friendly restaurants aren’t right for every dog. Not every dog will enjoy being near other people and pets, and the experience can be stressful. A few challenges of dog-friendly restaurants include:

  • Health and sanitation concerns: Pet-friendly restaurants usually have strict policies for where pets can go. For example, dog-friendly restaurants typically have an outdoor patio, but dogs can’t go inside due to health and sanitation concerns.
  • Potential for disruptive behavior from dogs: Some dogs can become stressed or overly excited in public, especially when seeing other dogs. They can run and play with new friends at the dog park, so your dog might think they can do the same at the restaurant. Unfortunately, dogs can be disruptive and even cause property damage or harm to others. Ensuring your dog has the proper training to behave at restaurants and around strangers and other dogs is crucial.
  • Legal and liability issues: Pet-friendly restaurants must consider the potential for someone to get hurt. For example, if a dog bites someone or pushes them over, the restaurant and the owner may be at fault. Guest safety is incredibly important for all restaurants that are dog-friendly.

Dog doing a trick and sitting calmly at a restaurant with their owner

Final Notes

More and more places are allowing pets. For example, you can book a pet-friendly hotel room, find Airbnbs that allow dogs, and even dine at dog-friendly restaurants. Dog restaurants can be a fun and exciting experience for you and your canine companion. First, however, it’s crucial to determine whether it’s safe for your pet and others.

Obedience training is crucial if you want to eventually dine with your dog at a dog-friendly restaurant. However, some dogs experience more anxiety than others. If you have an anxious pup, going anywhere can be stressful. Discuss your dog’s anxiety with a Dutch vet today to learn about causes and treatment options to ensure your dog lives a happy, healthy life.

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References

  1. “6 Tips for Taking Your Dog to a Restaurant.” PETA, 1 Feb. 2018, https://www.peta.org/living/animal-companions/dogs-restaurants/

  2. “7 Tips on Canine Body Language.” ASPCApro, 30 June 2020, https://www.aspcapro.org/resource/7-tips-canine-body-language

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is Dutch?

Dutch is an online veterinary pet telehealth service, created by pet parents and board-certified veterinary specialists. We use a science-backed approach to provide pets relief for their everyday physical and behavioral health issues. Dutch connects you with licensed veterinarians over video chat and messaging to help you get care for your dog or cat quickly wherever you are — without the stress or expense of a vet visit. We also partner with pharmacies who can deliver prescription medication (in applicable states only) and over-the-counter treatments directly to your door. Dutch isn’t a veterinary practice or pharmacy, but a company that helps facilitate these services for pet parents to make veterinary care more accessible to all.

What is a visit with Dutch like?

When booking a video call with a vet, you'll be asked a few questions about your pet’s health issue. Depending on the issue, you may also be asked to fill out a longer questionnaire about their symptoms and share photographs of them so our veterinarians can better understand what’s going on. You’ll then pick an appointment time that works best for you.

During your video call, one of our licensed veterinarians will talk to you about the symptoms your pet is experiencing, ask you questions, review your pet’s medical history if you’ve provided it, and answer any questions you have. The vet will ask to see your pet and their environment. And they may ask you to perform some simple checks on them if needed.

After your video call, the vet will send you a message with a custom treatment plan to help your pet feel better, including a link to buy any recommended prescription or over-the-counter medications. Place your order and we’ll ship it free.

How much will it cost for Dutch to treat my pet?

The Dutch membership starts at $7/mo for unlimited access to the vet. No more long waits for appointments or surprise bills.

In addition to the base membership plan, our veterinarians may also recommend additional medication (Rx and/or OTC) that you will have the option of adding to your plan at an additional cost.