Not nearly enough restaurants are dog friendly. The ones that are deserve our support and appreciation for welcoming our furry family members. They also deserve our respect and our dogs’ good behavior. If enough dogs behave badly, they will stop allowing dogs. To make it a positive experience for everyone, here are 5 tips for keeping restaurants dog friendly.
Make sure your dog is well socialized.
Get your dog used to riding in the car, visiting new places, and meeting strangers, both human and canine. If your dog is not used to being in public places, dining out can be a confusing and scary experience. Start with dog parks, friends’ houses, etc. then work up to restaurants.
Never allow your dog to beg.
Because consistency is so important in dog training, if you’re going to take your dog out to eat, don’t allow begging at home. Otherwise you might end up with a dog that sniffs and steals food off other diners’ plates while you’re not looking. That would be rude and very embarrassing.
Make sure your dog will be comfortable.
Bring along some food for Fido to eat so he’s not tortured by delicious smells and his empty stomach, or feed him beforehand. (Just be sure to walk him first so your dog doesn’t have an accident at the restaurant.) Select a restaurant with wide aisles so your big dog won’t get tripped over or his tail stepped on. Bring along a collapsible dog bowl
so he always has access to water.
Tire your dog out first.
“A tired dog is a good dog.” A dog that has just had a good walk or run will not be as likely to jump up every time someone walks by the table, try to visit with other patrons constantly, and so on. These distractions will frustrate you if your food gets cold while you’re constantly having to correct your dog. This behavior will also frustrate other diners and the staff. A tired dog will be less worked up by the experience and will soak it in more calmly.
Time your meal right.
Especially in the beginning, it helps to time your meal for a less busy time of day. The staff won’t be as rushed and will be more careful about stepping around your dog. There will be fewer diners around to usher your dog through. And if the restaurant is a bit empty, you can select a table in a corner or off to the side. That’s perfect for dining with a big dog – less people walking around, more room for him to lie down and get comfy, and easier to keep your dog at your side and under control.
I recently had the joy of a wonderful dining experience with Nala. After a short hike, we stopped at a dog friendly restaurant for dinner. We were able to get a table in the back corner of the patio, where Nala got more room between her dad and I than if we’d had a table in the middle of the patio. She lay quietly as we ate, tired out from the hike and not interested in anything but water. No sniffing, no begging, no visiting other diners – just a calm dog happy to be with Mom and Dad. As we left, the people at the table beside us said they didn’t even know we had a dog with us, much less a big one – and as we passed the server on our way out, she said the same! It was one of my proudest moments as a dog mom.
Experiences like that show disbelievers that it is possible to have dogs in restaurants without disrupting other diners. You never know when your dog’s behavior could be the last straw for a frustrated restaurant ready to ban dogs. But by following the 5 tips above, you can enjoy a pleasant experience with your dog – and help keep restaurants dog friendly.
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