Dining Out with Your Dog: 15 Etiquette Tips to Always Follow


Dining out with your dog is a fun way to spend time together and can make your dining experience more pleasant. As the pandemic continues, more and more restaurants are offering outdoor service, making it easier than ever for your dog to tag along at mealtime. But whether you’re visiting a local restaurant or one of the best pet-friendly hotels in the country, there are a few etiquette rules you should follow so you don’t make other diners or your dog uncomfortable.

According to experts, the key is to be prepared and polite, and you should do your best to anticipate potential problems. After all, you don’t want to accidentally turn your pup’s leash into a tripping hazard—or force anyone to sit through a meal with a barking dog (no matter how cute he is). Follow these tips to make sure everyone is happy with you and your dining companion. And no matter where you are, avoid these rude habits pet owners need to stop ASAP.

Know your dog

The number one thing you should do before dining out with your dog? Be honest with yourself about your dog’s personality and training. No matter how well-behaved your pup is at home during a meal, not all dogs have a temperament well suited to dining out in public, says Sarah Wooten, DVM, a veterinarian expert at Pumpkin Pet Insurance. Dogs that are aggressive, easily startled, territorial, don’t do well with strangers, bark a lot, are high energy, have special medical needs, or need a lot of attention are likely to have a difficult time in any public space but especially in close quarters like a restaurant.

Another factor to consider is your dog’s size, says Stephanie Mantilla, a former zookeeper and a certified animal trainer at Curiosity Trained. Large dogs, even if they are “gentle giants,” may knock things over or cause accidents, while small dogs may get overwhelmed or scared. “Just because your dog is small doesn’t mean they are automatically good dining guests,” she notes.
You may want to overlook your fur baby’s quirks, but bringing a dog that may cause problems isn’t fair to the dog, the restaurant, or other diners. If there’s any doubt that your dog can’t handle dining out, leave him at home, Dr. Wooten says. These are the things your dog actually wants from you (and dining out isn’t one of them).

Know the restaurant

Similarly, some restaurants are better suited to hosting dogs than others, says Jeff Carbridge, a certified animal behaviorist specializing in canines and a consultant to the website Dog Owner. Casual dining and places with outdoor seating are your best bet. Check out a restaurant’s website and read reviews online.

It’s also important to keep the human patrons in mind, Mantilla says. While your dog may be well trained, patrons at other tables may not know how to deal with dogs, may be allergic, or may have a fear of dogs. It’s best to pick a restaurant known for being dog-friendly or one that allows for plenty of space between diners. Surrounding them with strangers is one of the things dogs hate when you do.

Call ahead

Even if you know the restaurant you will be visiting allows dogs, it is still a good idea to call ahead to clarify its policies and make reservations for the patio. This is also the time to let the restaurant know if your dog will need any special accommodations, like a water bowl, Dr. Wooten says.

Pick a corner table on the patio

David Porras/Shutterstock

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