12 Simple Rules for Dining Out With Your Dog

Golden Retriever at Gecko's outdoor seating

Great spot. No one will step on my floofie back here.

The best part of vacation is dining out with Honey. I get a fuzzy face near my knee but I don’t have to cook or do the dishes.

After many years of dining with dogs, here are the rules I follow every time—except when I don’t.

When Dining With Your Dog…

  1. Always confirm a restaurant is truly pet friendly before strolling in. You and your dog are ambassadors for responsible pet travelers. Don’t screw it up for all of us by being rude or arrogant.
  2. Walk to the restaurant. Your dog will appreciate the chance to stretch her legs before having to stay calmly for an hour or so and the restaurant will appreciate that she’s already taken care of the necessaries before arriving at their door.
  3. Of course you brought your own water and bowl. But let the restaurant provide one anyway. It makes them feel good to fuss over your pup.
  4. Always have yummy treats at hand. You’ll need them to lure your dog into position.
  5. Eat at restaurants that serve french fries. They make a great reward for a long down-stay.
  6. Protect the floofie. Sure you’ve trained your dog to lie down under your table. But that doesn’t mean she’ll get her entire tail under too. It’s your job to make certain no one steps on it.
  7. Feed your dog at the same time you’re eating.
  8. Use your eyes as effectively as your dog uses his nose. You’ll need to spot that spilled food on the floor before your dog pulls you across the room to snarf it up.
  9. Eat at off times. You’ll find it easier to manage your meal if the restaurant isn’t full.
  10. Have a small snack before you go. You could go hungry while other diners and waitpersons fuss over your cutie pie.
  11. Tip well at the restaurants that promote themselves heavily as pet-friendly.
  12. Match the restaurant to the dog. For some dogs, the best dining option is the back seat of the car after driving up to a fast food window. For others, it’s deli sandwiches in a bag at a quiet end of the park. Not every dog is ready for fine dining. And that’s perfectly ok.

Golden Retriever sniffing napkin.

I love dining out. The smells are delicious.

Pet Travel Shout-Out

I’m a big fan of traveling with my dogs. I’ve even done it with reactive dogs and had a great time.

But we always have to keep the needs of our dogs in mind first. Sometimes, no matter how much we want to have our dogs with us when we travel, it’s just not a good fit.

You already know I’m a big fan of Abby over at Doggerel. Well, she wrote a simple little post about leaving her newly adopted dog Pyrrha behind that showed a lot of wisdom.

Abby decided that leaving Pyrrha, a shy dog adjusting to her new home, in the care of her former foster family was better than taking her on a 10 hour drive to a family funeral.

It isn’t always easy to figure out if we should bring our dogs with us, take them to a holiday camp (that’s kennel to you and me), or opt for in-home pet sitting. But I suspect we all have a little voice telling us the right choice. We just need to work on our canine listening skills.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


  1. Oh I wish I had done more of this with my Beau. Unfortunately, as you know, Bella falls into your item #10. I do take her to the Dunkin Donuts drive-thru with some frequency though and last time she didn’t even bark at the girl in the window. 😉

    These are great tips. I got a chuckle out of #8. Sounds like a scene most dog owners have experienced once or twice. 😉

  2. Great tips! I really appreciated reading them. We’ve taken Pyrrha out with us to eat twice now, and she’s done quite well–mainly because her reaction to a new environment is to lay down and be still. I wonder if this will change once she opens up more, though. 😉 And thanks so much for the mention!

  3. Both my dogs travel well. Sampson has been traveling with us since he was a pup. Since Delilah joined us we haven’t traveled as much, but she does well in the car. Of course that one always needs to be on leash and monitored around other dogs.

    Usually though when on vacation should we go out to eat, the dogs stay home. On the drive there they of course get something from wherever we stop to eat. :-)

    I hope you are enjoying your vacation. :-)

  4. Protect the floofie… that’s a must! 😉

  5. Very cool Pamela!! I hope Honey as good of a time as you are. :)

    Thank you for including us drive thru dogs. BOL! Just sitting still in the car while food is passing back and forth is an adventure for us!
    Hope you are enjoying your vacation!!

  6. This is an activity I could never do. All of my dogs would seek out a nearby child and plant themselves under the chair waiting for the inevitable food to fall. But none of them are Golden Retrievers.

  7. Sometimes, a well behaved dog will garner volunteers for your dog sanctuary ala Shiloh. Shi is a large Beagle, friendly, not boisterous, earned his CGC title. One day, he was with me at my fav bakery/coffee shop. We were outside (love “protect the floofie”). A young woman stopped to love on him going in and again coming out. I offered if she ever needed a dog fix, I had other dogs at home, too, who could use some walking and love. Well, she brought her sorority for two years every week – what a difference they made!
    I’m thinking of taking Justus with me on vacation in September. This list is perfect – thanks – and enjoy your time to relax with Honey and Mike.

  8. I wish I could take BJ to restaurants more often. New York City has few places to take your pooch.

  9. You have some great tips! We also try to take a little something along that they can chew on for a while. I also take a little roll up dog bed so that Bunny will lay down and be comfortable when we eat out. As soon as she sees that bed, she lays down on it and starts watching the table. The girl knows the routine! We usually have the back up plan of eating in the car if a place isn’t really pet friendly, too.

  10. Hi Pamela!

    I hope you’re having fun on your vacation. As guide dog puppy raiser and a bachelor who doesn’t cook much I take my guide dog pups into restaurants almost every day from the time they are wee pups. Our rules are a little more strict so we can’t follow all of your tips (btw, great list). A few things I wanted to add that we do.

    We always scan to make sure the floor is clean so our pups don’t go licking and picking everything up off the floor (just as you mentioned). If the floors are too dirty we ask the waiter if someone can come by to sweep up or move us to a different table. They’ve always been very accommodating to us.

    We have our pups heads under our chairs and butts under the table. This helps to protect their “floofie” :)

    Our guide dog pups stay at our feet whether we’re eating at a restaurant or at home. They figure out pretty quickly that this is the place they go when it’s time for the humans to eat. Stetson, my career changed guide dog still tries to lie down at my feet during dinner even though that’s now Apache’s spot since he’s my current puppy in training.

    Take care,

  11. We have only taken Cali to the Lucky Lab in Portland a couple of times . . she spends as much time as possible scouring the floor and looking pathetically at anyone that will look her way . . “look at me . .my humans hardly ever feed me and I’m starving!”.

    I love this list – and Honey looks like a perfect dinner partner :)

  12. A great list, thank you. I eat out with Stan a lot – initially this was to get him used to new things as he was such a scared little boy when we first got him from the rescue. Where we live there are not many places to eat inside with him but we go sit outside at several places including the new local Costa, national trust cafes and a local cafe that has great bacon butties. This worked well in the winter as we were the onloy ones brave enough to sit outside and eat (we live in the UK) but now the weather is better it is more difficult and he gets scared sometimes when it gets busy. I do believe in consistancy so I will be following the idea from the comment left by Colby – Stan will, from now on sit at my feet every time I eat – even at home.

  13. That’s a great list. I follow most of the rules except 5 (even I rarely get to eat chips) and 7 (G gets to eat only after we’re done). As for 10, that could have been the most important rule with Rufus. Without exaggeration, sometimes our meals woud go cold while a stream of passersby stopped at our table to coo, take pictures and chat. I always used to think they were so thoughtless.

  14. Terrific advice! As always. :-) We have never taken Shiva to a restaurant other than drive-throughs, and we all know how well she behaves there… I don’t know if she’ll ever be calm enough in public places to handle all that food near her at once but I would love to try one day. She may even surprise us.

    It’s great you’ve been able to find so many places that welcome dogs. I agree with rule 11. We need to let restaurants know how much we appreciate their pet-friendly atmospheres.

  15. This is a great post! I have just recently started to take my pup to outdoor eating areas. Were not quite ready to be going to sit down restaurants right now. But she’s doing great and we definatly use these tools to help her be a good attendee!

  16. Always great advice. It’s nice that more and more places are becoming dog friendly too.

  17. Great tips! I live in Hanoi, Vietnam and luckily due to no ‘health and safety’ rules I take my dog to a lot of restaurants with no problems at all. The more they come out the more acclimatized they are and hence settle quickly. I also would have to agree with what someone else above about 5 and 7 that it is not really a good idea to feed them from the table or generally. Tala has never been fed like that and hence other than a quick glance up when food arrive is completely disinterested. She is actually just really content to people watch and sleep! http://juraphotos.wordpress.com/about-tala/

  18. Awesome tips! Number five is my favorite, even if we don’t have the dog. :-)


  1. […] 12 Simple Rules for Dining Out with Your Dog. Pamela’s great list of tips for those who want to dine out with the pooch. We’ve taken Pyrrha out to eat with us twice now, and she’s done very well, but I think that was purely out of luck. We could certainly use these bits of advice and work on training her in that environment. (Something Wagging This Way Comes) […]