How To Take Your Dog To A Restaurant

How to know if my dog can go to a restaurant

Eating out with your dog can be a unique sight to behold and is guaranteed to turn some heads. Here’s everything you need to know about going to a restaurant with your dog.

Is Your Dog Allowed? Finding Restaurants that Allow Dogs

Not all restaurants allow dogs, even if they have a patio or outdoor space. However, dogs eating with their owners outside restaurants is a common sight on Hilton Head Island. This practice becomes more common in the months of summer. Yet always check first to see if you and your furry friend will be welcome, as it’s no fun to be bounced from a restaurant that doesn’t allow dogs.

There are some great online resources for finding restaurants that allow dogs. Sites like “Bring Fido” and “Dog Friendly” provide some really great information. You can also do a google search or check on sites like Yelp. A lot of restaurants are starting to show this on their website as well, and if you don’t see it you can always call.

If you are dining out while on a road trip, it’s great to find a dog friendly restaurant. If you are unable to, try to limit the time you leave your dog alone for safety.

Will Your Dog Behave?

Sadly, not all dogs are well-behaved in social settings. You should always consider your dog’s temperament and behaviour, when you bring them to a restaurant. Whether they will enjoy the restaurant and whether they will behave are the key questions.

If you’re not sure, it’s a great idea to test them at a place during a less busy time to see how they do. Some dogs get really anxious or they may appear miserable. It should go without saying that if your dog doesn’t enjoy the experience there are so many other things you can do with them instead.

If they are crazy hyper, then try going for a walk or playing to tire your dog out before you go. If that doesn’t work, then perhaps get your meal to go. You can sit somewhere that you won’t disturb other people. It does take time and not all dogs get the hang of it right away.

Things to Consider Before Going to a Dog Friendly Restaurant with Your Dog

Before you take your pup to a dog-friendly restaurant, there are a number of things you’ll want to think about. These include considering your dog’s personality and behavior. You want to set up your dog for success, after all. Not only do you want to make sure they behave appropriately, but you also want to be sure they’ll have a good time. Not all dogs will, so it’s important to give this some thoughts before taking your dog to a restaurant.

Is your Dog Anxious? What does your dog do when scared? Restaurants can be a great way to socialize an anxious dog. But if your dog will run away, bark and cry loudly, or run under tables requiring him/her to be dragged out, it won’t be a fun experience for anyone: not you, not your dog, not your server, not other patrons.


Will your dog sit calmly near your table or is she/he the hit of the party rushing up to everyone begging to be petted? You may love your dog and your friends may too, but not everyone will.

Make sure your dog behaves reasonably well and that you have solid control over her/him to take them out. You don’t want to be the one that causes a restaurant to change its pet friendly policy.

Energy Level

If you have a super-high-energy dog who cannot sit still while you eat a meal, it might be good to leave him/her home. An option to consider is exercise before you go out. If you can get your dog to a calm enough level to be around people, food, and lots of exciting (and good-smelling) distractions, then maybe it can work out. There are a lot of great social activities to do with high energy dogs including going to a dog park or another park with walking or hiking trails, but a restaurant can be a tough environment.

Other Dogs

Another thing to consider when you take your dog to a restaurant is that you might run into other dogs. Does your dog like other dogs? Do they bark a lot or want to play? If your dog doesn’t like other dogs, gets too vocal, or gets hyped-up and wants to play, it’s a good idea to ask not to be seated near other dogs. Or maybe you need to go to the restaurant at a time when it is less busy.


How does your dog behave around children? Does your dog get anxious, does he vocalize a lot, barking and whining? Does your dog love kids but not know her size? It’s important to always supervise interactions with children closely and if you’re unsure it’s best to say no to a visit.

Also keep in mind that a child may not know appropriate behavior with a dog. I have been out to places where I’ve seen kids pull a dog’s tail and poke them in the eye. So be very careful when children are nearby. And remember, most of the pet-friendly restaurants are also family-friendly restaurants, so you can pretty much guarantee that your dog will have to interact with some kids.


Does your dog have any handling sensitivities? Some dogs get nervous if you approach them with a hand over their head for example. Others may get nervous when a stranger approaches standing over them.

If your dog has a special quirk and someone asks to pet him, let the person know the best way to do so. Your dog will appreciate it and so will the person. Always keep a close eye on your pet, though, as people don’t always ask. You want to be sure to keep people and your dog safe.

Being Around Food

Will your dog snatch food out of people’s hands or climb up onto a table to grab a tasty bite? No one wants a paw print on their plate. If you have a very food motivated dog, you’ll want to bring some treats and will want to keep a close eye on him to ensure he’s behaving around your food.

Most people will ask before feeding your dog, but I have found that people will come up with food in their hand and ask to pet my dog. If your dog might snatch that food out of someone’s hands who comes close, you’ll want to be extra careful.

Teach Your Dog Basic Commands

Make sure your pup is well trained or trained enough to listen to basic voice commands. It is easier to control a trained dog in a restaurant-like environment that is filled with distractions. On the other hand, taking an untrained canine to a restaurant is asking for trouble.

You can start with basic voice commands such as sit, leave it, and/or stop. This will allow you to keep your pet away from the tables of other customers.

What You Should Bring

When you take your dog to a restaurant, you should have your dog on a leash either with a secure harness or collar. No matter how trained, well-behaved, and angelic your dog is, he/she needs to stay on a leash. You can never know when he/she may see a smaller animal and start chasing it.

Don’t tie the leash to a table or chair because they are usually not sturdy enough to hold your dog. Be sure to keep the leash around your wrist. A suitable alternative is to use a waist leash to keep your hands free to eat. You should also adjust the length of the dog’s leash to keep it comfortable for your pet, however it shouldn’t be too long because the people (especially the wait staff) walking around can trip.

They should also be wearing tags with your contact information on them. If the worst thing were to happen and your dog gets spooked and runs off (and you’re not wearing the leash), you want to be sure anyone who finds him knows how to contact you.

It is also a good idea to take your dog’s water bowl with you while dining out. He/she might get thirsty at the restaurant and finding an appropriate bowl on the spot can be an issue. Likewise you can also take some treats with you. Your dog will listen to you better if you have his/her favorite snacks ready.

Consider temperature as well and if you think the ground will be too hot or cold, you may want to bring a blanket for him to lay on.

You can never have too many poop bags and you should always bring a couple to restaurants just in case.

Don’t Let Your Dog Sit on a Chair or Table

Your dog sitting on a chair or table may look cute but many restaurants have strict regulations against this practice. This is because a dog sitting on a chair can knock over things and damage the restaurant’s property. That’s the reason even small dogs aren’t allowed on tables or chairs. It’s best to contact the restaurant before visiting to get proper guidelines.

Be Prepared to Leave

If your dog begins to act up, whether he won’t sit still or is barking nonstop at passersby, you may have to ask for a doggie bag. If you’re not ready to leave, though, you may have another option: take your dog for a brief stroll and some energy release to calm him/her down.

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