Tailgating With Dogs
Tailgating with dogs can be loads of fun, but running through your playbook beforehand can ensure they have a safe and enjoyable time too.
Taking your dog to a restaurant can be as fun of an activity for them as it is for you. Not only does it get your dog out of the house, but it allows them to socialize and experience new things. Plus, you can have some company while not worrying about your dog being home alone. That said, before you take your canine friend to a restaurant, there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure that their dining behavior is worthy of five stars.
Before your pet steps a paw into a restaurant, it’s essential that you first check whether the location allows dogs. Sometimes this information is posted on a restaurant’s website, social media, or in their reviews, but you can also call to double-check their rules. While some establishments may allow dogs in all sections, others may only let dogs in the patio or outdoor dining areas. Some locations might also have dog-friendly days.
Since individually looking into each restaurant may be time-consuming, you can also try looking on an online search engine or your mobile GPS app for “pet-friendly restaurants near me.” There are also websites dedicated to helping dog parents find pet-friendly establishments—they already did the hard work for you. BringFido, for instance, allows you to search for pet-friendly restaurants (along with hotels, activities, and events) in specific areas. You can see how other pet parents have rated a restaurant, whether dogs are allowed inside or outside, and if the facility offers anything for the dog, such as water bowls.
Even restaurants that allow dogs are still going to have the expectation that your dog will be on their best behavior. Dog etiquette mainly consists of basic dog commands and manners. Once your pup has learned these skills, they’ll be ready to join you for your next dining excursion.
Anytime you take your dog to a restaurant, it’s mandatory that you keep them on their leash the entire time. Restaurants are filled with new sights, smells, and sounds, and you never know what could catch your dog’s attention and cause them to bolt. On that note, it’s important that you don’t tie your pup’s leash to any furniture. Instead, you should always have their leash in hand or looped around your wrist.
Depending on your canine friend, having them wear a harness instead of only their collar can also be helpful. Harnesses provide many benefits, such as eliminating the risk of your dog slipping their collar, allowing you to have better control of your pup, and redistributing pressure if they pull on their leash.
Since leashes can easily become a tripping hazard in a busy restaurant setting, it’s important to be mindful of the length of leash you use. Avoid retractable leashes and choose a shorter one, maybe with a comfortable handle so it doesn’t bother your hand.
Although you may be lax at home about sharing food from your plate with your dog, you should never offer your dog your food at a restaurant. There’s a possibility that an ingredient in your dish could be toxic to your dog, sharing your meals could lead to poor behaviors, and having dogs near the dishes or tops of tables is often a health code violation that also goes against restaurant rules.
When some canines set their eyes on something they want to eat, they will become determined at all costs. They may beg, bark, try to put their paws or chin on your lap, and possibly resort to stealing food straight from your plate. Since restaurants have a large list of health codes they must follow, seeing a dog take food from tables or dishes can be a big “no-no” and may even result in them not allowing your dog to return.
To help your dog refrain from stealing food, feed them their meal right before you go out to eat. With a full tummy, they may not need to beg for food the entire time. You can also bring along a small bag of your dog’s kibble or some treats and reward them from time to time if they’re on their best behavior.
Although some outdoor dining situations may allow your dog to stand up and stretch their legs, in many settings, your dog will need to be sitting or lying down in one spot. Whether under the table, chair, or just next to them, be mindful of other guests and servers walking by, ensuring your four-legged friend won’t accidentally be a tripping hazard. If your canine pal is large or extra-large, you could also ask to be seated somewhere out of the way, allowing your pup to have the space to stretch out, without the restaurant traffic having a dog-shaped obstacle.
If you have a much smaller dog, it’s important that their four paws stay on the floor. Although they may be your trusty lap dog at home, at restaurants, this could come across as poor dog etiquette and lead to your pup sneaking food off your plate.
In addition to ‘sit’ and ‘down,’ teaching your dog how to ‘stay’ and ‘leave it’ are also valuable, particularly if someone nearby drops some food on the ground.
Providing your dog with multiple socialization opportunities will help them become more well-socialized. That said, socialization can be taken in baby steps, and you can work your way up to restaurants. To know that you’re setting your pup up for success before taking them to a dining establishment, ensure that your dog can act appropriately around other people, dogs, and kids.
Some dogs can be much more vocal than others. Whether it’s seeing another dog or watching a car pass by, many things can cause a pup to start barking. While in some situations it’s OK to let your dog bark, boof, whine, or howl to their heart’s content, a restaurant setting is not one of those. Even if you’re sitting outdoors, it’s important to be mindful of the other diners, realizing they may not want to hear a noisy dog during their whole meal.
If you believe your dog does well with these rules, then they’re probably ready to head out on the town and join you for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a nice afternoon coffee stop. Just keep in mind that some pups may not enjoy the restaurant scene, so you’ll want to gauge what will work best for your dog. You know your pal the best, so remember to consider the time of day you are venturing out, how busy the establishment may be, and, if you’ll be sitting outside, how hot the weather may get.
As you begin taking your dog out to more places, it’s also thoughtful to keep in mind that even pet-friendly restaurants may not be filled with guests that are as big fans of dogs as you. Some people may be hesitant around or scared of dogs, others may be fans of cats and not be as comfortable around dogs, and some of the other restaurant guests may have an allergy to dogs. Keeping these possibilities in mind, it’s considerate not to allow your dog the chance to approach other people freely.
Whether your canine pal is welcomed at the local tavern or pub will depends entirely on that establishment’s policies. Like restaurants, it is best to either check a bar’s website or call ahead to double-check if dogs are allowed and, if so, whether that includes inside or outside seating areas.
If you believe your pup is up for the adventure of visiting a nearby winery, new microbrewery, or local hotspot bar, here are a few helpful tips to keep in mind.
This can be particularly important depending on where you are going and how comfortable your dog is with crowds. While some bars may have a more “chill” atmosphere, others will get crowded or rowdy on weekend nights. It’s important to head out before your environment becomes too loud or uncomfortable for your best pal.
By going to the bar with a friend, family member, or fellow dog parent, you can help one another out, particularly if dogs aren’t supposed to be indoors. While one person holds onto and watches after the dogs, the other can go to the bar, use the facilities, or more easily carry the drinks back to the table.
Bar space is always limited, so your four-legged friend would have to squeeze into an uncomfortable spot. Not to mention, the bar is one of the busiest areas of a restaurant, meaning that there’s a greater chance of someone accidentally stepping on your pup, them being in the way, or even a drink getting spilled on them.
Although any seat besides the bar is better for your pup, if the weather permits, try to find an outdoor space to relax. Being outdoors, your dog may have more room to move about, they will stay out of others’ ways, and the space will most likely be friendlier to their sensitive ears. Not to mention, potty breaks for your dog will be much easier.
Whether your pup can’t quite calm down, the bar is getting too crowded, or your dog seems anxious, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings and your dog’s body language. Even if you’re not quite ready, it’s best to head out when your dog is.
Remember to start slow with introducing your dog to new places. Try going to a bar for only a short time, and if your pup does well, continue to increase the time with each visit. Just as you would with taking your dog to a restaurant, try taking them on a walk or playing with them for a bit to expel some of that extra energy before your dog goes to a bar. To keep the experience at the bar entertaining and enjoyable for your four-legged pal, consider bringing a collapsible water dish, some treats or kibble, and a favorite toy—you may want one without a squeaker.
Most places that welcome pups with open arms have fresh water and dog dishes ready to bring to your dog. Although it depends entirely on the restaurant and bar, some places may even have a dog-friendly menu.
Menu items may include anything from homemade dog biscuits and doggy ice cream cones to dog-safe beer and chicken. Of course, you know how your dog’s tummy reacts to certain foods, so it is your discretion whether your pup will be dining alongside you. Not to mention, if you are the parent to a pup with allergies, you may need to double-check the ingredients being used in the dog-friendly dishes.
Having your dog join you when you go out to eat or visit a bar can be exciting for both of you but remember to consider any dog-related rules in place. By having a well-behaved dog, not only will your experience (and that of your dog’s) be memorable and enjoyable, but it also means that you’re setting other pups up for success whenever they venture out for their night on the town.
An ASPCA® Pet Health Insurance plan can help you with eligible costs for covered conditions like surgery expenses for accidents and help provide peace of mind that your pet can receive the care they need. Check out our online resources to learn more about your insurance options and get a free quote today. The information presented in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute or substitute for the advice of your veterinarian.
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title: Pet-Friendly Restaurants
author: Emily W.