More and more restaurants are not only allowing, but encouraging people to bring their pets to lunch. I have noticed this trend in my own neighborhood, as well as when traveling in other cities. Four legged friends of all shapes and sizes are busy soaking up the sunshine near their owner’s feet. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal covered the outdoor dining rights of dogs, specifically a bill that has passed in favor of our furry companions in Albany, New York.
Still, not all establishments welcome pets, and it’s a more likely occurrence when you are seated at a sidewalk café than a fine dining restaurant. While traveling, it’s a convenience to eat at a location that not only serves great people food, but provides stellar service for your pooch. Not only limited to brick and mortar buildings, food trucks with their delicious fare often welcome the company of your pet.
Here are a few doggie dining etiquette do’s and don’ts to consider before taking Fido out to brunch.
Do keep your pet close by. Your dog should be on a leash for everyone’s protection. Avoid attaching the leash to the table or a chair for obvious safety reasons. Fluffy may spot a bird or squirrel and off he will run, restaurant furniture in tow. Keep the leash close, and firmly secured to your body.
Don’t allow your pet to block the aisle or get in the pathway of servers. Fifi should remain stationed near your feet; bring his favorite bone to amuse him while you are engaged in conversation with a friend.
Do teach your dog the basic commands. Just as humans are expected to behave in a polite manner in public, the same should be expected of our pets – no barking, biting, begging, or romping around.
Don’t feed your pet directly from your plate or bowl. It is unappetizing to fellow diners to watch your dog eat directly from your plate or drink from your glass. The pet store sells travel bowls to feed and hydrate your pet. Take advantage of the options available at your local pet store, or online. Ask the restaurant for a plastic cup or bowl if you have forgotten your own.
Do expect some push back from fellow diners if your dog growls or acts aggressively. It’s little comfort to tell a fellow diner, “He won’t bite” as Mighty Max is showing his teeth, growling, and lunging in their direction. If your pet is still learning his doggie manners, hire a pet-sitter while you enjoy your lunch. You’ll be able to relax and feel more comfortable knowing you’ve avoided a headache, and potentially a lawsuit.
Don’t ask for a doggie bag if you are dining with a client. Go right ahead and request a “to go” box for your half eaten sandwich and salad if you are with friends or at a social meal. The rules of dining etiquette still apply when entertaining clients, even in a more casual environment.
Do look for sidewalk seating and a dog bowl stationed outside the door. In combination, it often signals “We love pets” to your furry pal. When in doubt, don’t assume. Ask before you take a seat.
Don’t forget to take your dog for a walk prior to your arrival at the restaurant. This will allow him to do his business before you both sit down to dine. If you decide to linger for dessert and coffee, excuse yourself for another quick walk. And, finally, don’t forget to carry plenty of plastic bags to clean up the mess.
Do tip your server appropriately for doggone excellent service. They have likely gone above and beyond to help create an exceptional experience for you and your most loyal friend.
For more tips on our furry little friends, check out my article, Pet Etiquette: Etiquette Tips for Pet Owners.