The Hard-And-Fast Rules Of Dining Out With Your Dog

You and your dog can enjoy a relaxing patio hang together—as long as you practice good etiquette.

Patio season is in full swing. That means pleasant breezes, al fresco happy hours, and the occasional tail-wagging patio-goer. Dining with your dog on a pet-friendly patio is one of the joys of pet parenthood, but it comes with a special set of considerations. Here's how to avoid catastrophe when bringing your dog to a restaurant. 

Understand that not all dogs are patio dogs

I've had two dogs in my adult life: one patio-friendly, one not. The patio-friendly dog had great leash manners, excellent recall, and a fondness for snoozing under shady tables. The other dog is a beagle. (If you have a beagle, you understand.)


I've tried to squire my beagle to a patio or two, and the outcome is always the same. He's highly scent-driven, so he spends the entire patio session hell-bent on sniffing under each and every table—whether or not they're occupied. He's also a bit skittish around noisy crowds, so raucous breweries are a no-go. He's a great dog, but he's just not a patio dog. And that's okay.

Have reasonable expectations when you're bringing your dog out for a patio hang. If you know your dog gets nervous around crowds, a bustling restaurant patio probably isn't setting them up for success. Likewise, if your dog is a young puppy in need of socialization and training, they're probably not going to sit on the patio in utter tranquility while you enjoy a cocktail. Don't force it.


Keep the leash on

If there's one thing we're not gonna do this summer, it's let our unleashed dogs roam freely around patios. Especially when there are other dogs/children/busy servers around. Your dog is probably lovely—the vast majority of dogs are—but a restaurant patio is full of minefields that can trigger even the best-behaved canine. Also, not everyone loves dogs. (Can't relate, but it's true.) Some people aren't interested in having a strange German Shepherd sniff their crotch while they're trying to enjoy their Eggs Benedict. With all of this in mind, keep your dog leashed and somewhat curbed throughout your patio experience.


Bring treats and water

If you're planning a summertime patio excursion, I highly recommend bringing your own collapsible water dish. I have this one, which is mega-cheap and comes with a carabiner so I can easily attach it to my water bottle. It's just not fair to make your dog pant it out while you make your way through bottomless mimosas. And it's not fair to your server to make them run around trying to find a dog-appropriate bowl to serve water from.


In addition to water, bring patio treats to keep your dog entertained. A lick mat loaded with peanut butter or wet food will keep your dog calm and engaged for at least 20 minutes. This can be helpful if your dog starts getting restless near the end of your patio party.

Keep dogs off chairs

If you can't already tell, I am a Dog Person to the extreme. I've never met a dog I didn't like. Same goes for my parents, who filled their empty nest with a ragtag band of four dogs in varying shapes and sizes. That said, I'd like to respectfully ask you to keep your dog off of patio chairs. This goes for any patio setting—coffee shop, brewery, restaurant—but is especially important when there's food involved. Human butts are gross enough; your server shouldn't have to clean up after a dog butt, too.


Also, once again, not everyone loves dogs as much as you or I. Some people have allergies. Some people are grossed out by animal hair. Whatever the case, a patio is not the place to snuggle with your pup on a communal bench.

Use common sense

Common sense goes out the window when we're tending to our beloved pets. I get it. But bringing your dog to a patio is a big responsibility, and it's no time to get lax with your dog care. Pay attention to your dog's signals—if they seem overheated, agitated, or very restless, it's time to cut your patio time short and take them home.


One last thing: Not all patios are dog-friendly. When in doubt, give the business a ring before you show up with your Irish Wolfhound. And leave the beagles at home—trust me.