Dining out with your dog can be an exciting new adventure for you and your favorite pooch to enjoy. With more and more restaurants and coffee shops offering pet-friendly eating areas, the ability to take your dog with you for a cup of coffee or a nice meal with friends is such a welcome option. For the optimal dining experience, there are a few things you can do beforehand to help ensure that your dog is up to a social dining experience.
Since you know your dog’s personality and possible problematic behaviors, you will be able to determine if your dog is a good candidate for a social dining experience. Like many people, not all dogs are comfortable in social situations. Meeting new people, new dogs, and dealing with unpredictable situations can be too much for some dogs. If your dog is very timid or potentially aggressive in social settings, it may be best to leave him at home until you feel confident in his readiness. But if your dog is obedient, good with other dogs, and enjoys meeting new people, he may be the perfect candidate to accompany you on a dining or coffee date.
Before you embark on your first doggie-dining outing, here are a few tips and rules of etiquette you may find helpful:
Restaurant Policy – Check out the pet-friendly restaurant you are considering visiting beforehand. Make a note of the table locations and available seating. You may want to check with the staff regarding their pet-friendly policies and call them ahead of time to check on seating availability before you go.
Socialize Your Dog – A well-socialized dog that is comfortable with people and unfamiliar surroundings will probably be a good dining companion in a pet-friendly restaurant. Lying down next to your chair and being patient is really all that you are asking of your four-legged companion. Your dog should be well-versed in the basic commands of sit, lie down, and stay.
Before You Go – It is important to have a plan before you embark on this new adventure. Prepare for your visit by packing a water bowl and a chewy or quiet toy for your dog to enjoy while you are eating. Be sure to exercise your dog and feed him before you go to the restaurant. A full-bellied, tired pooch will only add to your chances of having an uneventful, relaxing time with your friends. Immediately before you enter the restaurant, give your dog a chance to go potty. (An unexpected potty accident can be an embarrassing and uncomfortable dining interruption.) Plan on bringing a friend with you for your restaurant visit. If YOU need a restroom break, your friend can take care of your dog in your absence.
At the Table – Keep your dog leashed at all times. While seated at your table, keep your dog’s leash in your hand or readily available to you. Do not tie the leash to the table or even your chair. An unexpected “dog emergency”, like a scrambling mouse or squirrel, may surprise you both with an overturned table or chair. Either keep the leash in hand or try sitting on it, wrapping it around your thigh or ankle. Keep your dog close to you where he is not obstructing the foot traffic of other patrons or your server.
Table Manners – It is always important for you and your pup to observe good table manners; no begging, barking or feeding your dog from your plate or silverware. (It is a violation of health codes for pets to use the restaurant’s dishware or silverware.) If you’ve forgotten your water bowl, your server will typically be happy to bring you a plastic water bowl for your dog. Additionally, your dog should not be allowed on your lap or seated in a chair at the table. Pets should be positioned next to your chair where they can relax comfortably.
The ability to eat out with our pets is a refreshing option for pet lovers. By observing a few guidelines in dining etiquette, you and your dog can enjoy many fun-filled dining adventures.