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Tips on Bringing Your Dog to a Restaurant & Finding Pet-Friendly Dining

Dog at restaurant

It’s a great time to enjoy some meals al fresco, with many restaurants offering pleasant outdoor seating areas. The best part? You can bring your canine companion as your guest. But dogs and restaurants aren’t always a good match, so before you start dreaming about a burger and fries, make sure your pup is ready for the experience.

Before You Bring Your Dog to a Restaurant

To make sure you have a pleasant dining experience, it’s essential to do some prep work. Not only does this ensure you and your furry friend enjoy your meal, but it also shows consideration for your fellow diners.

It’s a good idea to let your dog get a few practice runs in before you attempt a whole dining-out experience. Then, when you think your pup is ready to go, you can start finding some dog-friendly restaurants.

Prepare Your Pup for Dining Out

First, before you take your pooch anywhere, some basic training is a must. Whether you plan to have your dog accompany you to a restaurant or not, responsible dog ownership means training your pup

As part of bringing a dog into your life, you should expect to add training into your schedule starting early in your relationship. The sooner you can teach your dog good manners, the better. But, if you’ve been a bit lax on the training, no worries, just get a few introductory sessions under your belt.

Focus on commands like sitting, staying, and lying down to help your dog be a polite dinner guest. But teaching your pal these commands isn’t enough. You also need to practice them in a variety of situations. 

For example, practice the command with your dog while you’re eating a meal at home. Then, before you head to a restaurant, you need to put your training into practice in a few public settings.

Practice with Your Dog in Dog-Friendly Public Places

Take your pup to the park; it’s a great place to work with solidifying the commands amidst distractions. Yet, since it’s the park, you’ll be less stressed if your dog is a bit frisky.

Once your dog is able to obey your commands despite all the fun sights and sounds at the park, it’s time to step up your game. Take your pal to a pet-centered store, like a local dog boutique or a place like PetSmart. It exposes your pooch to a different kind of public setting, but still in a place where people expect to see dogs.

Remember, when you go to these places, it’s not just about the visit. You need to test and practice all of your commands while you’re out and about. The whole idea is to make sure your dog knows exactly what you expect of them when you are in public.

Start with Very Dog-Friendly Restaurants

Keep in mind, even when your dog is following your commands with the utmost consistency, a restaurant is a very different experience. After all, you’re adding all sorts of tempting smells and delicious food into the mix. 

So, make your first test spot a restaurant that is not only dog-friendly but goes above and beyond. These are places that cater to dogs, with spread-out patio seating, and they likely provide your pup with a tasty treat and a bowl of fresh water.

When you do this, it’s more likely the other customers will either have their dogs or at least expect dogs to be there. So, you’ll know you’re among a dog-tolerant crowd. This tends to help you stay calm. 

Otherwise, when you’re the only one with a dog in the place, it could make you a bit anxious when you still don’t know exactly how your dog will behave. Your pup will sense your emotions and share your anxiety, so stay calm to keep your pup calm.

Make a List of Dog-Friendly Restaurants

Check out your local area for as many dog-friendly restaurants as you can. Sites like BringFido and Yelp are great places to start when looking for dog-friendly locations. Start making a list of those that are the most dog-friendly to the least. This way, you can start with the ones that welcome dogs with open arms.

While many restaurants that offer outdoor seating will allow pets, it doesn’t necessarily mean they want them there. Plus, some restaurants have strict no-pets policies despite having outdoor seating. So, again, really scope out which ones are genuinely pet-friendly. 

Next, find out what each restaurant’s specific guidelines are regarding dogs. For example, they all likely require your pup to remain leashed. Some will also ask that your dog remains under your table while you dine. 

In regards to keeping your pup fed and hydrated, many places will provide a water bowl and some may even provide treats. But not all places are this accommodating and you may not want your dog to use a bowl if it doesn't look clean since it could lead to the spread of disease. For that reason, we suggest always bringing your own bowl and treats to be safe.

In addition to checking the restaurant's website or giving them a call, you can also check the restaurant's social media to see if there are pictures that show what kind of experience to expect. A lot of times if you check a restaurant's Instagram, you will see pictures of dogs dining outside and maybe even comments on the post about how much they love furry friends. Seeing posts like these are a pretty good sign you'll be welcomed at this establishment.

Dog at restaurant

Bonus Tips for Dining with Your Dog

Training and calling ahead are super important. However, there are many more things you can do to help prepare your dog for going to a restaurant. Therefore, besides the above recommendations, here are a few more tips to make sure things go as smoothly as possible.

  • Always bring some treats and other distractions with you. It’s always a good idea to have these on hand to help refocus your dog if they get a little too excited. An interactive, engaging toy like the Rolly Canolli is a great idea to keep your pal happily occupied during your outing. You can also bring something to help your pet stay calm, like the Neat-Lik Treat Mat (just make sure to get something tasty to spread on the lick mat for your pal).
  • Make sure your pal has something to eat before you do.
  • Take your dog for a potty break before you’re seated.
  • Some dog-friendly restaurants will provide a place for pups to roam; otherwise, keep your dog under your table.  
  • Bring a bowl for your pal. Even if the restaurant provides bowls to their guests, you can ensure your dog has a clean dish.
  • Don’t get distracted. Always make sure to monitor your pup and be aware of what is going on around you. This way, you can stop any potential problems before they start.
  • No matter how well-behaved your dog is, always be prepared to leave at any time when dining with your dog. You know your pup best, so if you notice they’re getting a bit anxious or about to have some issues, leave before things get dicey.

Ready to head to your favorite restaurant? Keep these tips in mind when you bring Fido along, and you can have a relaxing and enjoyable meal together. For more helpful information on being a pet parent, check out the rest of our blog. You can always find new ways to strengthen your skills and increase your doggy know-how.


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