12 Important Rules for Dog-Friendly Patios

Dog-friendly restaurants are all the rage these days. After all, according to the Insurance Information Institute or III, 69 percent of Americans own a dog. That makes canines the most popular pet. If you’re bringing your four-legged friend to a patio restaurant, what rules should you know?

Here are some important rules and etiquette for dog-friendly patio dining:

  • Let the restaurant know you’re bringing a dog

  • Take your dog to the bathroom before you visit

  • Always keep your dog leashed up

  • Tie your dog’s leash to a chair

  • Bring your own food and water bowls

  • Follow basic restaurant rules

  • Keep your dog out of the waitstaff’s way

  • No dogs on the table

  • Limit the consumption of people food

  • If your dog is barking a lot, calm them down

  • Prevent your dog from mooching off other tables

  • Leave your pup at home if they don’t like kids or people

Ahead, we’ll talk further about these rules so you can have an enjoyable experience dining with your friends and family with Fido in tow!

12 Tips for Dog-Friendly Patio Dining

Let the Restaurant Know You’re Bringing a Dog

Common courtesy is a nicety that’s become far too scarce these days. Even though a restaurant has a dog-friendly patio doesn’t mean they receive visitors of the four-legged variety all that often. 

Before you visit the restaurant, call them up and let them know that you’ll be stopping by at around 1 p.m. and bringing your dog or a group of dogs. The restaurant staff can ready a spot for you.

If you just walked up to the restaurant patio without having called first, you could have to wait for a table to open up. You can be patient, but as for your dog? That’s another story.

Take Your Dog to the Bathroom Before You Visit

Restaurants that allow pets must still meet sanitation requirements to avoid being shut down. In no restaurant is fecal matter or urine welcome, even at an establishment with an outdoor patio. 

You can’t always control your dog’s urges, that’s true, but you can prepare for them. By taking your dog out to do their business before you get to the restaurant, you can reduce their chances of having to urinate or defecate while you and the other restaurant customers are trying to enjoy a pleasant sit-down meal on a warm, sunny day.

If you suspect your dog has to do some business while you’re eating, then let your lunch or dinner guests know, promptly get up, and walk your dog up the corner. When they’re done and you’ve cleaned up the mess (dog owners should always have doggy bags handy when going out), you can rejoin your group. 

Always Keep Your Dog Leashed Up

You couldn’t imagine life without a dog, but not all people feel the same. Some restaurant customers might be allergic to dogs, or perhaps they just don’t like dogs. Others might fear dogs, and others still might not have an issue with canines, but they don’t want your pup wandering willy-nilly while they eat.

That’s fair. Everyone who dines at a restaurant is entitled to a lovely meal. By leashing your dog, you’re preventing them from running rampant all over the patio when they feel like it. The fellow dogless customers will appreciate your tact.

You can now engage in conversation with your lunch or dinner guests without feeling like you must obsessively watch your dog. You should still keep an eye on them, but since they’re on their leash, you know they can’t go far.

Before dining with your dog outdoors, it’s a great time to consider upgrading their leash and/or harness if you haven’t bought a new one in a while. If your dog sees a squirrel or smells a chicken dish on its way out to another table, a new leash will keep them tethered to the spot.  

Tie Your Dog’s Leash to a Chair

Where do you tie your dog’s leash? We recommend tying it or hooking it to your chair. This way, their leash is literally within arm’s reach so that if your dog begins to misbehave, you can grab their leash and give it a tug.

Bring Your Own Food and Water Bowls

Dog-friendly restaurants only allow dogs on the premises; they don’t feed your dog. That will be on you. You’ll also have to keep your dog hydrated. To that end, we recommend a set of collapsible food and water bowls.

You very well may walk onto the restaurant patio and find they have a communal water bowl for the dogs that visit. Then again, they might not, and then what? You don’t want your dog sitting and panting for the next two hours. They’re clearly uncomfortable, and you’ll feel awful about it.

You won’t even be able to enjoy your meal because all you’ll be able to think about is how your poor pup is suffering.

You don’t need to bring them a full day’s worth of food. Pack some dry kibble in a plastic zippy bag and bring a bottle of water as well. This way, you don’t have to take away water from your table by pouring the pitcher into your dog’s portable water bowl.

Follow Basic Restaurant Rules

Having your dog with you doesn’t give you the license to disobey any rules the restaurant has established whether those rules are related to canines or not. If anything, since you’re bringing a dog, you might wish to be on even better behavior so you don’t attract too much attention to your four-legged dining companion.

Keep Your Dog Out of the Waitstaff’s Way

You don’t want your dog tied to your chair so tightly that they can do little besides pace back and forth, but don’t give them too much leeway either. If they can cross from your table to the main area the waitstaff uses to walk from table to table, that’s a problem.

Your waiter or waitress can bump into the dog or trip over them when trying to serve food or collect dirty dishes from a table. Whether that’s your meal or someone else’s you ruin, it’s a bad look.

It’s not only the waitstaff your dog can be a nuisance towards. When the customers at another table get up to go to the bathroom or pay their bill, they too could trip over or bump into your dog. 

If someone gets seriously hurt by your canine companion, know that you could be sued over the incident. It’s much better to keep your dog on a shorter leash when dining out.

No Dogs on the Table

This next rule should go without saying, but we wanted to mention it anyway. Absolutely at no point in your dining experience for any reason whatsoever should your dog be on the table. They shouldn’t even get up on the chair.

They’re a dog, first of all. You may perceive them as another member of the family, but to everyone else at the restaurant, including the staff, they’re an animal. It’s not sanitary for an animal to be sitting where the customers do.

If you’ve trained your dog not to beg, then you shouldn’t be at too much risk of them trying to jump up for some scraps of food.

Limit the Consumption of People Food

Speaking of people food, most of it is not canine-friendly. We just wrote a very informative post about people food that dogs can eat versus those they cannot. 

Even food that’s usually acceptable for dogs could make them sick if the food is garnished.

As much as you can, try to refrain from feeding your dog any part of your meal. However, if your dog is crying, whining, or otherwise making a scene, you might slip them a plain piece of chicken or pork with the fat trimmed away. 

Just try not to make this a habit, both at home and when dining out. Canines can’t digest people food easily, and it’s not part of a healthy dog diet. Your pup could end up overweight or even obese!

If Your Dog Is Barking a Lot, Calm Them Down

Across the street from the restaurant patio, your dog sees another person walking their dog and begins barking like mad. They’re normally not this vocal, but of course, when you take them for one outing, they begin going nuts. 

People generally have as much tolerance for barking dogs as they do crying babies, which is to say not much at all. You need to control your pup as soon as they begin barking. Whether you issue them a quiet yet firm verbal command or physically soothe them, you need to do something immediately.

What if your usual methods for quieting your dog don’t work? If they just won’t stop barking, then you need to exit the situation with your dog before the other customers begin complaining to the manager.   

Give your pup a few minutes of quiet. When you feel comfortable, bring your dog back to the restaurant. Keep in mind that if whatever was making them bark is still present, even though they quieted down, they’ll likely soon start right up again. You might have to take your dog home in that case!

Prevent Your Dog From Mooching Off Other Tables 

If your dog can’t get food from your table, then why not try somebody else’s? In even the best of circumstances, few people are appreciative of a strange dog slobbering all over them for scraps. When they’re out at a nice restaurant, they won’t accept this behavior one iota.

The best way to prevent your dog from begging for food is to limit the length of their leash so they can’t even nose their way over to another table. You also need to keep an eye on them while you’re eating. 

Leave Your Pup at Home If They Don’t Like Kids or People

Many dogs love other people, including kids, and they’re friendly with canines as well. Plenty of other dog breeds though are not so fond of strange people or animals. Socializing your dog is a way to help them get over that, but socialization should not include forcing your dog to sit at a restaurant with you for several hours.

If they’re fearful around people, they might manifest symptoms of stress such as crying, whining, urinating, defecating, or vomiting. A dog that’s aggressive around other people and pets is too big of a risk to take to a restaurant. Please leave them home and consider some behavioral training as well.


Dog-friendly patio restaurants are the best, but you must take some precautions so you don’t ruin a good thing. Be sure to follow the 12 rules we outlined here whenever your dog is your dining partner. This way, both (wo)man and dog can have a great time out!

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