Dining with Your Pet in a Dog-Friendly Restaurant
Going out to eat at a dog-friendly restaurant with your dog can be a lot of fun. Before you take your dog out to eat, there are a number of things to consider to make sure it will be an enjoyable experience for you, your dogs, and the other restaurant people at the restaurant. Here’s what you need to know.
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I frequently take my dogs out in the Phoenix, AZ area and we really enjoy it. My dogs are very social and love people so they are very happy to cozy up to others. Especially so when there is the potential for a snack. I do take them out regularly though, so they are used to it and I make sure they are well behaved.
Is Your Dog Allowed? Finding Restaurants that Allow Dogs
Not all restaurants allow dogs, even if they have a patio or outdoor space. I learned this the hard way while in my home city. The restaurant had a lovely large outdoor patio and I brought my dog, then was turned away. As a result, I created a dog-friendly restaurant list of places that do welcome dogs. I have been bounced from restaurants that didn’t allow dogs and that’s no fun. Always check first to make sure you and your furry friend will be welcome.
There are some great online resources for finding restaurants that allow dogs. Sites like Bring Fido and Dog Friendly provide some really great information. You can also do a google search or check on sites like Yelp. A lot of restaurants do show this on their website as well and if you don’t see it, you can always call.
If you are dining out while on a road trip, it’s great to find a dog-friendly restaurant. If you’re unable to, try to limit the time you leave your dog alone for safety.
Will Your Dog Behave?
Sadly, not all dogs are well-behaved in social settings. You should always consider your dog’s temperament and behavior before bringing them to a restaurant. Will they enjoy the experience and will they behave are key questions.
If you’re not sure, it’s a great idea to test them at a place during a less busy time to see how they do. Some dogs get really anxious or they may appear miserable. It should go without saying that if your dog doesn’t enjoy the experience, there are so many other things you can do with them instead.
If they are crazy hyper, then try going for a walk or playing to tire your dog out before you go. If that doesn’t work, then perhaps get your meal to go. You can sit somewhere that you won’t disturb other people. It does take time though, and not all dogs get the hang of it right away.
I have a dog who is very food-obsessed. In the beginning, he used to try to snatch food out of my hands. Hed even tried to get food from another person when they weren’t paying attention. I need to really pay attention to his every move to make sure he behaves as he should. He has now learned that he gets treats at the end of the meal if he behaves well. Though, he does still try to sneak a snack on occasion.
Things to Consider Before Going to a Dog-Friendly Restaurant with Your Dog
Before you take your pup to a dog-friendly restaurant, there are a number of things you’ll want to think about. These include considering your dog’s personality and behavior. You want to set up your dog for success, after all. Not only do you want to make sure they behave appropriately, but you also want to be sure they’ll have a good time. Not all dogs will so it’s important to give this some thought before taking your dog to a restaurant.
Is your Dog Anxious?
What does your dog do when scared? Restaurants can be a great way to socialize an anxious dog. But if your dog will run away, bark and cry loudly, or run under tables requiring he be dragged out, it won’t be a fun experience for anyone to bring them.
Also, consider how busy a restaurant is. Perhaps a quiet restaurant at a time when few people are likely to be there might be an option. If the dog is food motivated, bring some tasty treats.
Will your dog sit calmly near your table or is she usually the hit of the party rushing up to everyone begging to be petted? You may love your dog and your friends may too, but not everyone will.
Make sure your dog behaves reasonably well and that you have solid control over her to take her out. You don’t want to be the one that causes a restaurant to change its pet-friendly policy.
If you have a super-high energy dog who cannot sit still while you eat a meal, it might be a good idea to leave him home. An option to consider is exercise before you go out if you can get your dog to a calm enough level to be around people, food and lots of exciting (and good-smelling!) distractions. There are a lot of great social activities to do with high-energy dogs including going to the park or a dog park, but a restaurant can be a tough environment.
Another thing to consider when you take your dog to a restaurant is that you might run into other dogs. Does your dog like other dogs? Do they bark a lot, or want to play? If your dog doesn’t like other dogs, gets too vocal, or gets hyped up and wants to play, it’s a good idea to ask not to be seated near other dogs. Or maybe you need to go to the restaurant at a time when it’s less busy.
Make sure to be an advocate for your dog and give them the space they need from other dogs. For example, in the picture, Ita likes some space and does not want another dog to come right up to her. So, I made sure Molli gave her the space she needed to be comfortable.
How does your dog behave around children? Does your dog get anxious, does he vocalize a lot, barking and whining? Does your dog love kids but not know her size? It’s important always to supervise interactions with children closely and if you’re unsure, it’s best to say no to a visit.
Also, keep in mind that a child may not know appropriate behavior with a dog. I have been out places where kids pull my dog’s tail, poked him in the eye, and other things. I very quickly stop the behavior and redirect the child, but I’m also confident of his behavior around children that he won’t retaliate.
Does your dog have any handling sensitivities? Some dogs get nervous if you approach them with a hand over their head, for example. Others may get nervous when a stranger approaches standing over them.
If your dog has a special quirk, and someone asks to pet him, let the person know the best way to do so. Your dog will appreciate it and so will the person. Always keep a close eye on your pet, though, as people don’t always ask. You want to be sure to keep people safe and your dog.
Being Around Food
Will your dog snatch food out of people’s hands or climb up onto a table to grab a tasty bite? No one wants a paw print on their plate. If you have a very food-motivated dog, you’ll want to bring some treats and will want to keep a close eye on him to ensure he’s behaving around your food and others’.
While I have found most people will ask me before feeding a treat to my dogs, I have found people will come up with food in their hands and ask to pet my dog. If your dog might snatch that food out of someone’s hands who comes close, you’ll want to be extra careful. I do have one of these dogs and I have to be extra vigilant when I take him out.
What You Should Bring
When you take your dog to a restaurant, you always should have your dog on a leash, either with a secure harness or collar. They should also be wearing tags with your contact information on them. If the worst were to happen and your dog gets spooked and runs off, you want to be sure anyone who finds him knows how to contact you.
You should also plan to bring a bowl and water unless the restaurant will provide it for you. (Even if they don’t have dog bowls or other containers specifically for this use, they can usually repurpose a to-go container or something like that). Do you want to bring treats? Consider temperature as well and if you think the ground will be hot or cold, you may want to bring a blanket for him to lay on.
If the weather is too hot, please leave your dog at home. In Phoenix, the weather is too hot from May to September, at least during the majority of the day.
My Recommendations to Bring
Here are the things I always bring when I eat out at a restaurant with my dog:
- Collar, leash, and tags (harness if your dog wears one)—I use the EasyWalk Harness with my big dog as it has an added bonus of a hook at his chest to reduce his pulling. Here is a similar harness made by Petsafe. For my small dog (who thinks he’s HUGE) I use one like this Petsafe harness. It’s a great brand and I like the harnesses that are more sturdy to ensure he doesn’t wriggle out of it. If you’d prefer to use a collar and not a harness, I highly recommend a martingale collar. It has a loop so it tightens when you pull the leash so the dog can’t back out of it. Max and Neo martingales are great and they give back to support local animal rescues with every purchase.
- Water and a bowl—Most restaurants will provide your dog with water, but not all of them will. I will sometimes bring a combination water bottle and bowl just in case. Or sometimes I’ll bring a collapsible bowl just to be sure.
- Poop bags—You can never have too many poop bags and I always bring a couple to restaurants just in case. I love these Planet Friendly Poop Bags by Frisco. You can purchase a clip-on dispenser that makes it quite easy by always having them handy. If you’d rather buy the bags in bulk (I did say you can never have too many!) they come with the dispenser. They conveniently come in scented as well in case your precious pup needs them.
- Optional—Depending on the weather (hot or cold), it’s a good idea to bring a small blanket for your dog to sit on to make sure they are comfortable. You know, the height of spoiled. It’s a good idea to bring some treats as well so you actually get to eat your own meal (or most of it, anyway). I’ll often bring something like these, which offer a good crunch and not too many calories in case my pup overindulges. Bring whatever you usually give you dog and you’ll both be happy.
Travel Packing List for Your Dog
If you’re on a road trip with your dog, or even if you’re going to a local restaurant, it’s helpful to have a list to know what you should bring. I’ve got you covered! Download this handy packing list for your pup to make sure you bring what you’ll need to have a great time. This is geared for traveling with your dog, but of could, you can pull from it useful items for your fun evening out!
Phoenix, AZ Favorites
If you visit the Phoenix area with your dog, I’ve got you covered! I’m familiar with a number of places in the Phoenix area that my dogs and I love! Here are some of my favorite dog-friendly restaurants in the Phoenix, Arizona area:
- Cibo Urban Pizzeria offers amazing food and service and is very dog-friendly
- OHSO Brewery and Distillery is a “nano” brewpub known for its love of dogs. There are probably more dogs than humans on their patios and they have several locations.
- Upward Projects Restaurant Group including Postino Wine Cafe, Windsor, Joyride Taco House, Federal Pizza, and more! You have your pick of food types and all locations love your pups.
- Rula Bula Irish Pub & Restaurant — 401 S Mill Ave, Tempe, AZ 85281
- Queen Creek Olive Mill — 25062 S Meridian Rd, Queen Creek, AZ 85142
- The Farm at South Mountain — 6106 S 32nd St, Phoenix, AZ 85042 and the Morning Glory Cafe for breakfast (on the property)
There is a much larger list in my post of great restaurants in Phoenix in case you’re interested in a larger selection! I have been to almost all of the places I mentioned with two exceptions (and a good friend went to them). It’s great living in such a dog-friendly city!
Why I Love Dining with My Dogs
Going to a dog-friendly restaurant with your dog can be a lot of fun. When you’re traveling with your pup, it’s important to find places where you can bring your dog or run in quickly to get something. Making sure their behavior is appropriate is key, and always advocate for your dog to make sure anyone who interacts with your dog is aware of any sensitivities. It can be a really fun experience for all.
And it’s not just dogs that you might see out in Phoenix restaurants. My Noel has been out and enjoys herself as well. This picture was from her first time in Phoenix when I was working with her to become a therapy cat. She has been one for three years and has been out to eat quite a few times.
This place actually had a “dog-friendly restaurant” sign, but of course, they said cats are welcome. The other patrons, and sometimes the dogs, really get a kick out of it.
Special tip: Starbucks and many other coffee restaurants offer “puppacinos” as a special treat for your dog. When you get your cuppa joe, get your dog a special treat! It’s a great idea for dogs you want to get out to socialize but can’t quite handle a restaurant yet as you can often sit outside and their eating areas are smaller than many restaurants.
Other Posts You Might Like
- Tips to Take Your Dog on Vacation (+ What to Do When You Can’t!)
- Flying with Dogs
- Care for When You Can’t Bring Your Pets
- Safely Driving with Dogs: the Ultimate Guide
- Hiking with a Dog—Top Tips for Safety and Fun
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