I can hear some of you now. “If I took my dog to a pet-friendly restaurant, the video of him misbehaving would go viral in ten minutes.”
Have some faith. It might be easier than you think. Especially if you teach your dog some basic cues before you try it for the first time.
Here are some I’ve found invaluable when we take Honey out to eat.
Cues Your Dog Should Know Before Eating Out
If your dog can do these things in a distracting environment (that means practice at home and work your way up), any pet-friendly restaurant should be happy to seat you on their deck or patio.
Sit and Stay – This cue is especially useful when you’re asking the hostess if dogs are welcome on the patio. This is where you send the message that your dog knows how to behave herself in a restaurant.
Heel (or By Me) – Just because a restaurant’s management likes dogs doesn’t mean all the other diners do. But making a neat entrance with your dog might win a few people over.
Go to a Place – For Honey, this means find the nearest rug or bed and settle on it. When we go out, I take a compact, outdoor bed like the Kurgo Wander Bed. (affiliate) It keeps her comfortable and she knows it’s where she must stay if she wants yummies.
Leave It – If a child at the next table drops her food, you don’t want your dog pulling over the table to snarf it up. A strong “leave it” cue is crucial.
Drop It – And if you’re too busy with your margarita to notice that your dog snuck up to get something on the ground, your next line of defense is the “drop it” cue.
Put Your Tail Under Your Body and Keep It There – Okay, this isn’t a real cue. And I have no idea how to teach it. But it sure would be valuable. Even if I put Honey’s tail under her body to keep it safe from people walking by, it comes out wagging every time someone walks by. If you have any suggestions, leave them in the comments.
Let’s Go – If your dog has sat quietly at her place while you ate, seeing her spring to her feet to follow you out when you say, “Let’s Go” will impress everyone.
Heck, if your dog can do all these things beautifully, most pet-friendly restaurants would be happy to seat her without you. Now you just have to learn your own cues and you’re ready for a summer of pet-friendly dining with your dog.
Cues to Teach Yourself
It’s not all about the dog. Set her up for success.
Here’s my short checklist of cues I need to follow so we have a good dinner.
Walkies – It’s unfair to expect your dog to sit quietly for an hour or more in a place that smells like food if you didn’t give her a chance to walk and sniff first. Walk first. Dinner second.
Pack – Bring everything your dog needs to be comfortable: food, water, and collapsible travel bowls; a comfy bed; a chewy like a stuffed Kong or bone. (affiliate)
Watch Me – When your dog is sitting by your table, it’s not all about you. So be prepared to split your attention between your meal and your dog to make sure she’s still having a good time too.
If your dog is comfortable out in public and you follow these cues, you’ll have a great time.
If your dog is uncomfortable in public, you can still eat out together. But you’ll need to adjust a few things.
You see, I didn’t always live with Little Miss Perfect, Honey the golden retriever. I know a few things about traveling with reactive dogs.
And if you can vacation with a reactive dog (without pooping in the woods), you can eat out with one too. I’ll share my secrets if you help to advance Cape May, NJ to the next round in the Best City for Pet Traveler’s contest.
Cape May, NJ – Best City for Pet Travelers
I’ll tell you later why Cape May is such a charming place to visit with your dog. But for now, I’ll just share a few reasons why you should NOT vote for our competition in the first round, New
Smegma (oops, sorry) Smyrna Beach, Florida.
- The earliest settlers couldn’t get away fast enough. In the late 18th century, several of them walked 75 miles to St. Augustine looking for a new home.
- It’s hot. And humid. And hot. No cooling Cape May breezes to make it anywhere you’d want to be in the summer.
- It’s the shark bite capital of the world. Let me repeat that. IT’S THE SHARK BITE CAPITAL OF THE WORLD! Yes, more than Australia! New Smyrna set a record for the most shark bites in 2007. Then they beat it in 2008. Oh. My. Dog!
So run. Don’t walk to vote for Cape May as the Best City for Pet Travelers at Go Pet Friendly. You can vote for your favorite places once each round. And Cape May is currently ninth up from the bottom.
Thanks for supporting Cape May.
Your Turn: Do you eat out with your dog? Any tips you can share?
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