Dogs Welcome on Patio Sign
More and more pets are being integrated into every aspect of family life — and that includes dinner dates outside the home.

In most cases, local health codes restrict dogs from being able to dine indoors, but many restaurants get around such laws by creating designated outdoor pet dining areas.

Some restaurants even cater to canine appetites with special doggie dishes. In the dog-friendly city of San Francisco, coffee shops, restaurants and bars even host "Yappy Hours."

To find a pup-approved spot in your region, check out, which highlights dog-friendly restaurants around the country. Just be sure to call ahead and ask if the designated pet area is open, since many of them are seasonal. You can also ask around at your local dog park or even reach out to your favorite restaurants directly to see if they ever offer pet-friendly dining options.

You should also keep in mind that there may be children and dogs around, as well as loud talking and various other distractions, which may cause your pet to be fearful or react by lunging and barking. For some pets, the stress of the dining experience outweighs the positives, but for pooches who really enjoy dining out, there are some rules that you should follow.

Bring Your Own Bowl

Disposable dishes and glasses, such as Styrofoam cups, are the only eating utensils that restaurants are allowed to use for pets, so you should never share your own dishes with your pup. Instead, bring along a collapsible water bowl — along with plenty of poop bags in case your dog decides he needs an impromptu bathroom break.

Master the Lay-on-a-Mat Command

One of the basics that I teach in my dog obedience classes is how to get your pup to rest on a mat. This is a critical behavior for a dog to understand when eating out because it will keep him from bothering other diners and servers — and make the experience more comfortable for him. Added tip: Leashes should be looped onto your arm, not a table leg, which can easily tip if your dog gets excited.

Don’t Share Table Scraps

Check whether the dog-friendly restaurant you’re visiting has a special dog menu. If not, occupy him with a favorite long-lasting chew while he’s on his mat. You should never feed a begging dog — this only makes the bad behavior more persistent.

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