Slowly but surely more stores and restaurants are letting leashed, well-behaved dogs through their doors. I’ve even seen a store with a sign saying “Don’t leave your dog in the car, bring them in”. How wonderful is this trending change compared to the usual “No Dogs Allowed” mentality.
So now the question is whether we can keep the momentum going in the right direction. Who wants to visit a restaurant only to step in poop and then suffer through a meal with a nearby dog yapping and causing a disruption. We need to show that we are responsible pet owners by cleaning up after them and training them to behave in a proper manner. They need to walk nicely on a leash, know their “sit” and “stay” commands, and be quiet. Most importantly, they must enjoy mingling with strangers, especially children.
Preparedness means knowing proper manners. They should learn not to whine or beg whenever you are eating at home. They should learn to politely take a bite if offered.
Teach them the down and stay commands using a comfy mat. Start with five minutes slowly working up to a good thirty minutes. The mat will teach them they must stay in a designated spot until you give the release command.
The best dogs are tired dogs so a walk to reduce any excess energy is always a good idea. They should also take care of business so as to not do it in the restaurant.
Most dogs get excited in new places with new people. A place serving food steps up the excitement with the various aromas wafting throughout the area. When first introducing your dog to this new adventure it’s best to start with off peak hours to avoid any chaos. Also, many restaurants allow dogs on the patio so choose a table in a corner or area away from the main traffic which can be stimulating with people passing back and forth.
If your dog is a barker then please start with a laid back restaurant where many bring their dogs. At first Kirby liked to bark at the other dogs or especially the bikes whizzing by on the sidewalk right outside the patio. Obviously this can be annoying to fellow diners so he had to quickly learn to be quiet. Every once in a while he’ll let out a bark but mostly he just does this cute little barely audible woof.
Some places have a doggy menu while others will happily prepare a plain hamburger for you to give your dog. One of our favorite weekend haunts always brings a cup of cold water and a plain hamburger patty. Just in case you may want to pack a small meal to bring along. If you aren’t sure then contact the restaurant beforehand and if needed, bring your own water along with a small bowl. If we are in a corner we can feed Kirby where he is on the inside between the wall and the table. Otherwise we feed him under the table which keeps him safe from other interested dogs and any children who could get too close.
Kirby has learned to walk calmly on a leash and knows to get in his designated spot which is the small pad from his car seat. Sometimes we place it on the ground but more often we place it in a chair sitting between us. We've done this enough that he knows his spot even when we don't have his pad. There are days when he is calm (tired) and happily stays put. Then there are the days he wants to socialize. A good way to contain him is to shorten the leash and attach it to the chair to keep him close so he can’t reach other tables and annoy patrons. This is especially good to do if you’re with friends because you’re distracted and may not notice someone walking by too closely.
The waiter is your best ally so treat them well. Be polite, be courteous, and tip well! Let them know you appreciate restaurants that cater to pet lovers. If you have a happy experience post a thank you review on their website or facebook page. This way you are not only letting other pet lovers know where to dine but you are ensuring that restaurant keeps their dog friendly policy.