In this post, I’m sharing my best tips for how to successfully enjoy dining out with your dog! These tips are especially helpful if you are just easing your dog into eating out in public.
Before we get started, it’s important to understand that dining out with your dog is a privilege, not a right. One bad experience at a restaurant can force them to change their policy and ruin it for the rest of us. With that in mind, the best thing you can do for yourself, your dog, and others dining at the restaurant is to train your dog to behave well at mealtimes at home before venturing out to a restaurant.
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Before You Go:
Tire Your Dog Out
There’s a saying that goes, “a good dog is a tired dog”. So, to set yourself up for success, I would suggest taking your dog out for a walk or playing fetch a few times before you take them to dinner with you.
This helps to make sure that they don’t have a ton of bottled up energy when you want them to be lying down for an extended amount of time during a long meal.
Depending on how long you plan to be out for dinner. feed your dog beforehand, either the full meal or half of their meal (depending on if they get car sick). This can keep the begging at bay.
If your dog gets car sick and the restaurant is more than a 10-20 minute drive away, then only feed them half their meal and feed it to them at least an hour before you go out to eat.
So now, your dog is tired, fed, and content!
What To Bring:
bring your own water and water bowl
Don’t rely on or assume that the restaurant will give you one. Just because the restaurant allows your dog to be with you while you eat, does not mean they are obligated to give your dog water.
Of course, it’s always nice when they do, but don’t hold it against them if they don’t. Avoid the situation completely by having a collapsible bowl with you and a water bottle. Or ask for an extra glass of water and pour it into your dog’s bowl.
Bring a baggy of treats to periodically give your dog, especially if they are being a good boy or girl!
For one, this keeps their attention on you and keeps them from begging for your food. Two, it takes a lot of willpower for a dog to lie down for an hour or more. Add in the yummy food smells, other people and dogs around, and the random squirrel they spot a mile away. Your dog is working hard here, so you want to reward them for good behavior.
Plus, you want them to associate eating out with being a positive experience. That way the more you do it with them, the more they like it and behave well!
At The Restaurant:
Position your dog away from the aisle
Try to get a seat where you can block them from the pathway.
You don’t want to have to pull them back when another dog walks by or every time the waitress walks by. This also keeps them away from other people so that your dog is less likely to be disturbed.
If people try to greet or pet your dog, you have that control when they are blocked by you vs. out for anyone to reach over.
Remember to always keep an eye on your dog. Even if they are very well trained, they are still a dog.
Don’t Feed Your Dog Your Food
It’s sort of an unspoken rule to keep your dog away from your food. You should also keep them on the floor, not in your lap, and keep their nose away from the table. Do not give any restaurant plates to your dog to lick clean. Unless you order a doggy meal that some restaurants may offer, you shouldn’t give them any of your food.
Your dog will probably be better off without the human food in their stomach.
assess Your Dog’s Capabilities
This is more of a suggestion vs. a tip, but you should assess whether your dog is ready for it.
If you have a dog that barks uncontrollably at everything or has anxiety toward other people, please for the love of your dog, don’t take them out with you to dinner. Make it one of your training goals to work towards. Try smaller quick places like drive thus, ice cream stands, etc. before committing to a sit-down restaurant.
You don’t want to disturb others just trying to have a pleasant meal out. In addition, you want to make sure that dining out with your dog is not only an enjoyable experience for you, but also for your dog!
Planning a trip to Michigan and need restaurant suggestions? Check out my restaurant guide!