Now that the weather is warming up, most of us are ready to get outside and enjoy the longer days and pleasant evenings by gathering with friends over cool refreshments and outdoor meals. Fortunately, more dog-friendly restaurants and patios provide opportunities to bring our furry friends along. It's always a good idea to plan ahead and know the restaurant or bar patio etiquette for dogs. That’s why we put together a list of tips to help you enjoy your time together.
Research the restaurant and bar rules
If you’ve ever thought about bringing your dog to a restaurant, you’re likely aware that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) generally prohibits animals inside restaurants, with an exception for service dogs. But the good news is that 20 states now allow dogs at restaurants and outdoor patios. So, before you head out with your buddy, do a quick search on your phone or laptop to see if there are dog-friendly cafes, restaurants or taverns in your area, and it never hurts to call and confirm their policy.
Train your dog before going out
Aside from knowing basic dog commands, the American Kennel Club recommends brushing up on the "leave it” cue to help your dog ignore items like dropped food or one of the many other distractions your dog may encounter. Also recommended is the "watch me" cue to help your dog focus on you so that he doesn't try to investigate other tables and the "place" cue using a towel or small blanket to show your dog where to lie down while you eat. Whether you’ve been training your dog or you’re just getting started, remote trainers are great tools for teaching and reinforcing the skills needed for keeping your dog calm at a restaurant and when you let him off leash.
Consider your dog's behavior
It may seem obvious, but one of the most important aspects of managing your dog’s behavior on patios is to watch and be aware of him. If your dog displays anxiety and fearful body language around crowds or strangers, it may be best to let them stay home and do something they enjoy when you return. If they are prone to overheating, make sure you find a shady spot, have a water bowl and avoid the mid-day heat. If you have an energetic dog, take him for a walk before you head out so that he'll be ready to relax at the restaurant.
Bring necessary items
If you're driving to your destination, you can keep your buddy from freely roaming around the car with the Happy Ride® Collapsible Travel Crate or a 3 in 1 Harness that attaches to your car seat belt. As mentioned, it's always good to ensure your buddy has a refreshing drink of water. Many restaurants and bars may provide a water bowl, but they aren’t required to, so it’s wise to bring along a bowl to be certain your buddy won’t go thirsty.
Practice proper etiquette
What are the rules for bar patio etiquette for dogs? For many of us, good restaurant behavior is something we learned from our parents, and it's no different for our furry kids. Everyone around you will appreciate good doggy manners, and it will prevent creating negative attention so you and your pup can enjoy yourselves more.
Leashing your dog at a restaurant or bar patio is crucial to proper etiquette. Common mistakes are using a long or retractable leash and tying a leash to the table. This can cause trips, entanglements, rope burns or broken furniture resulting in a big mess or injury. Using a standard short leash around your wrist is the best way to prevent this. If your dog tends to pull on the leash when he sees something interesting, an Easy Walk® Harness or Gentle Leader Headcollar are comfortable, effective tools for teaching him not to pull, or if you prefer a collar, the Soft Point Training Collar is a safe, gentle way to encourage good behavior.
Be mindful of other patrons
When it comes to outdoor dining with dogs, you’ll want to ensure they don't visit other tables looking for attention or snacks. You can help avoid this by finding a table in a corner or away from high-traffic areas. As mentioned, always keep your pup close by and avoid letting him approach others. It may be tempting for your dog to beg from you (or others), so dog toys that hold or dispense treats, like the Busy Buddy® Chompin' Chicken or Slab o' Sirloin, are great ways to keep him occupied.
Some dogs have more to say than others, and your buddy may start barking in a setting with lots of stimulation. For example, if you have difficulty keeping your dog calm at a restaurant, try petting or distracting them with a treat or toy or a short walk around the block. Another solution is to use a bark collar to help teach your buddy to bark less while you’re out and about. There are several styles of bark collars, including Spray Bark Collars, Ultrasonic, Vibration and traditional static bark collars. They're all safe and effective solutions, so you can choose the collar that best suits your dog’s personality and enjoy a quieter, more relaxed outing together.
Keep an eye on your dog
This may seem like a no-brainer, but, as for any good parent, it's always best to keep an eye on your furry kid. This way, you can tell how he's doing and if he's happy, anxious, not enjoying the experience or trying to sneak a snack that he saw drop under the table next to you. Not all dogs have the temperament for dining out and some may have difficulty in public spaces or closed areas. Whether they are big or small, for those dogs, it's best to find another way to spend time together that you both can enjoy.
You'll find places that allow outdoor dining with dogs just about anywhere you go. Some pups naturally fit in, while others may need some help. But, with a little training, you can relax and enjoy the benefits of socializing with your dog at a bar or restaurant.