Pet-friendly dining is popular in many cities, particularly in warm-weather months, as food may be served outdoors.
Increasingly, dog owners are taking their canine companions along on road trips, vacations and other jaunts. Fitness enthusiasts may stop for sodas, snacks or meals while exercising their pets. Professional dog walkers and private owners enjoy nabbing a nosh during a daily walk.
Many brasseries, cafes, coffee shops, grills, pubs and other eateries now offer outdoor seating, where patrons may dine al fresco with their furry friends. With this happy trend comes a new set of responsibilities for pet handlers.
What rules of etiquette apply to dining with dogs?
Proper pet behavior in a sidewalk cafe, dockside diner or other outdoor venue for vittles depends in large part upon the handler's own demeanor. Here are nine manners musts for guests at dog-friendly restaurants, either indoors or out.
- Find pet-friendly restaurants before you go.
Not all restaurants welcome animals, of course, although a growing number do invite guests to eat outdoors with their domesticated creatures. It pays to investigate in advance. Check website listings for eateries that welcome Whippets, Weimaraners or other dogs.
Helpful sites include Bring Fido, Dog Friendly, and Pet Friendly Travel.
- Call ahead.
Restaurant rules change, so dog-loving diners need to ask before showing up with a Terrier or Toy Poodle in tow.
- Tend to your own dog while you dine.
For safety and courtesy's sake, culinary customers need to pay constant attention to their own canine charges. That Papillon, Pekingese, or Pembroke Welsh Corgi must be kept close by and out of the way of waiters, waitresses and restaurant patrons.
A barking or whining dog is a nuisance to other diners, and must be stopped. If your Keeshond or Komondor can't stop his noisemaking, then it's time to signal your server for a doggy bag and the check, please.
A hollering pet handler, barking orders at a misbehaving dog, is also undesirable.
- Leave your dog leashed in the cafe.
Even the tamest Labrador Retriever, Lhasa Apso, or Lowchen should be leashed at the table. Don't let your pet approach other diners or their dogs in the diner.
- Keep your dog down.
Hygiene counts for plenty. The polite pet owner will keep her Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Collie or Cairn Terrier from jumping up on her own lap or placing his paws on the restaurant table. Dogs should not sit on chairs in public eateries, but must remain quietly on the floor or ground.
- Don't feed your dog at the table.
This is a perennial pet peeve, even for pet lovers. If you fling food to your Finnish Spitz or French Bulldog at home, then he will likely look for your to toss table scraps while dining out.
It is double-dog downright rude to allow a pet to lick your fork, spoon, plate or other utensil in public. Don't let your Samoyed or Shih Tzu slurp your soup or sip from your water glass, either.
Why not feed your dog before entering the restaurant?
- Pick up after your own pet.
Ideally, a polite dog-friendly diner will give her pet a chance to answer nature's call in advance. If your Pug or Pointer should poop, please pick it up immediately in a plastic bag. Never put this on the table, and don't leave the dog's deposit behind for the bus staff. Take it to the trash yourself.
- Offer to pay for anything your dog damages.
If your dog knocks over a vase with his wagging tail, chews a chair leg or breaks anything in the restaurant, it is polite to suggest you will pay for the repair or replacement. The manager may decline the offer, but it's courteous to extend it. Dog handlers must be prepared to pony up the payment, if required.
- Only take a well-behaved dog along when you dine out.
Only the most docile and obedient dogs make courteous dining companions. An excitable, untrained or overly rambunctious canine does not belong in such an environment. If you do not trust your pet to behave properly, it might be prudent for you to pack a picnic, grab a takeout order or zip through the drive-through window of a favorite joint and tote your provisions and your pet to a park instead.