Dog (and Owner) Etiquette at Restaurants & Cafés
In most towns and cities across the country, restaurant owners have embraced the concept that canines are part of many families. Since you want to include your pooch in as much of your life as possible, that means taking your sweet pup out to eat with you whenever possible. If you’re out walking, it’s nice to stop at a café for a quick bite or a drink.
Many restaurants now offer outdoor seating so you can enjoy the summer weather, watch the passersby and include your leashed pooch in a thirst-quenching pit stop. But just as you must teach your human children how to behave in a public eatery, you and your pooch must learn the basics of dog etiquette when in a public place.
Remember, You’re the Adult
To teach kids how to behave in public, you often model the behavior you hope to see. But you can’t do that for your four-legged family member. Learn the basics of dog etiquette for canine owners when you’re at a restaurant, then practice them consistently. Lessons include:
- Take your pooch for a walk before being seated. Accidents definitely aren’t welcome in any public establishment. And it’s not always practical to get up to take your pooch for walkies if he starts whining for a potty break. You’ll be a lot more comfortable when you’ve taken care of business prior to sitting down.
- Secure your pup’s leash. Tying the leash to a table leg or even the leg of your chair is asking for trouble. Even a well-trained dog has moments, especially when a new canine enters the scene. The result may be messy if you haven’t secured your dog’s leash.
- Check out the business’ pet policy before you go. Some places strictly forbid pets, with the exception of service dogs. Check the website first or call ahead. Some places have outdoor patios or back rooms, but they still insist that you maintain proper dog etiquette. A water bowl set outside a café signals dogs are welcomed.
- Expect non-dog lovers to disapprove. While most of society welcome four-legged friends, a segment of the population doesn’t appreciate their company. These people may give you disapproving looks or ask to be moved. Practice your dog etiquette with tolerant silence and a wagging tail. No need for rudeness … or a barking fit.
- Be responsible. Remember that you’re ultimately responsible for what happens to your pup. Keep your little buddy safe, content and out of harm’s way. It’s up to you and you alone.
- Tip your server well. Wait staff sometimes make accommodations for you and your party. Whether they have to walk around a well-behaved pooch lying at your feet or go beyond politeness by bringing a cool bowl of water, show your appreciation with an appropriate gratuity. But don’t ask for a “doggie bag” when a “to-go container” is more appropriate.
Teach Your Children Well
If you have an older dog, familiar with appropriate dog etiquette, you have less to worry about when taking him out to a café or restaurant. Well-trained pups answer your commands and follow your guidance. But if your pooch is still in training or too often follows his own mind, you may want to use the Canine Styles’ comfortable, great-looking training collar.
If your best friend has an excitable personality, doesn’t particularly care for crowds or never did take well to stringent dog etiquette expectations reconsider an outing to a restaurant. Is it worth it, after all, to subject your pet and yourself to the stress? When your pooch is up for the trip, however, remember these tips to maintain proper dog etiquette when out eating or drinking together:
- No begging allowed. Not only is feeding your dog from your plate discouraged in most public places, but begging for food is also frowned upon, no matter how cute your pup appears. Feed your pet before you leave the house to ward off hunger pangs that drive begging behavior. And start at home with training. When you don’t allow begging at home, it’s a lot easier to forbid the behavior in public.
- Distract with toys. Just as you can’t expect your human baby to sit still while you enjoy the dinner and table conversation, you shouldn’t expect your canine child to do any different. Bring along suitable, non-squeak toys, like a plush lobster, or a nice, odorless bone of his own to quietly chew on.
- Obeying simple commands. A restaurant is no place for rambunctious play. Spend a little time throwing a ball or playing rough-house at home before you hit the public eateries to let your pooch get the energy out of his system. Make sure your dog understands simple commands such as stay and down.
- Interact peacefully. Everyone, especially children, often want to pet your pup when you’re out and about. But at a café, you may want to discourage nearby patrons from petting or playing with your dog when he’s under your command. No reason to take the chance of breaking that good-boy spell.
- Four Paws on the floor, please. Although you may allow your pup to jump onto your lap at home, dog etiquette at a restaurant demands otherwise. It’s best to be consistent with your training. Keep him on the floor during meals, even at home. Train your pup to lie quietly on a special mat while you eat or have guests at home. If you think it will help with his public dog etiquette, bring the mat with you and set it on the floor near your feet. If it’s out of the way, the staff won’t mind.
- Keep it down. Barking and whining have no place in a public eatery, neither from you nor your canine companion. If your pooch is a barker, it may not be appropriate to bring him out to eat. But if he’s up on his dog etiquette, he’ll be quiet and polite. Try requesting an out-of-the-way table to discourage any interaction with other pets or people, so the temptation to talk back is reduced.