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You're making plans for dinner out with family or friends, and you'd like to include your best furry buddy. But can you take your dog to a restaurant? Sure — it just takes a little planning and a some simple training.
Before you go, though, consider this: Ideal canine restaurant-goers are social, friendly, relaxed and well behaved. If your dog is uncomfortable in crowds, overly fearful or overly excited when around other people or animals, taking him with you to a restaurant may not be the best choice for your pooch.
To be well-behaved, polite restaurant patrons, here are seven etiquette tips for you and your dog.
Know the lay of the land. Scout out the restaurant ahead of time to ensure that it is dog-friendly and to find out what, if any, specific guidelines there are for canine visitors. Many facilities have limitations on where people with dogs can dine, such as in outdoor or patio areas only. This may be an issue if waitstaff don’t come outside to take orders or the restrooms are located indoors. Plan ahead — for example, consider bringing a dog-savvy friend along to serve as an extra hand if you need to leave the table during your meal.
Mind your manners. Dogs benefit from knowing a few basic manners before venturing into public situations, including restaurants. Sit, down, stay and proper leash walking are essential skills.
Get jollies out beforehand. Before you settle in for your meal, take your pooch for a walk; this helps to get his wiggles out and gives him a chance to take care of any potty business. A little detective work can help you find a park or green space near the restaurant for a quick outside break on your way to your meal. And be sure to scoop any poop.
Put a stop to begging. Not all people will be tolerant of your dog’s efforts to get a handout. Teach your dog alternative behaviors to begging, like a down stay and remain consistent about not feeding him from the table, both at home and in restaurants. In fact, it's a good idea to give your dog his meal before you leave home — this can help limit his interest in your food. And of course, it's important to mind your own manners and not feed a begging canine — yours or anyone else’s — regardless of how endearing his tactics may be.
Keep paws on the floor. You may be fine with your pup sitting up at the table when you’re at home, but, in most restaurants, letting your doggy sit on the chairs is a no-no ( so is letting him eat off your utensils or dishes). Before you book a reservation for two, teach your dog to settle on his own mat space during meals.
Give your dog something to do. Ensure that your dog is on his best behavior by keeping him happily occupied with productive and acceptable activities like favorite toys, chews and stuffed food puzzles. Choose non-disruptive options that encourage your canine to peacefully enjoy himself in a stationary position. Be sure toys are quiet as well, without loud noises or squeaks.
Don’t tie your dog's leash to the table. Attaching your dog's leash to the table or chairs is a disaster waiting to happen. Most furniture isn't heavy or sturdy enough to restrain an excitable dog or one who is determined to move. Your dog may be curled up next to your table, but if he sees a squirrel or another canine, the end result may be overturned furniture and injured patrons. Instead, hold onto the leash yourself or use a hands-free option like a waist-clipping leash. Keep leashes at a fixed length next to you without excess slack to prevent the leash or dog from becoming a tripping hazard for people walking past. Alternatively, train your dog to settle in a portable kennel space tucked under the table or off to one side, out of the way of waitstaff and other diners.
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