It’s never easy to leave your dog at home more than you have to, and if your dog has been cooped up all day while the human is at work, he or she is probably very antsy. But humans have to eat, too, and the only thing in the fridge is a leftover casserole that you don’t remember making. Can you even take your dog out to eat? And if so, how can you ensure it won’t be a stressful, embarrassing event?
Yes, you can take your dog! Well, most of the time. There are many restaurant chains and hole-in-the-wall places that welcome your canine companions. Most of these apply to outside seating only, so if the weather is not ideal, maybe today is not the best day to bring your dog along. Even if a restaurant has outdoor seating, they may not allow you to sit there with a dog. If it’s a place you go to regularly, ask a manager to see if you can bring your pooch next time. You can also call ahead and ask, then let them know you will be bringing your dog at a certain time; they might reserve an outside table for you. While many locations allow your dog to be outside with you, if you have to order inside, it might be a good idea to take another human being. Restaurant chains known for being dog-friendly include Panera Bread, Sonic, Johnny Rockets, Baja Fresh, Shake Shack, Applebee’s, and Joe’s Crab Shack. You can also check out Bring Fido, a website dedicated to helping you find dog-friendly options for restaurants, hotels, and more! Check them out: https://www.bringfido.com/.
Now that you know for sure your dog is welcome, there are a few things you can do to make the outing as enjoyable as possible for both you and your dog. Feeding your dog before will make him or her less likely to beg at the table. You have all kinds of wonderful food just in front of his or her nose and you don’t plan on sharing it. That’s just not fair to an even mildly hungry dog. Treats are also a good idea. You can use positive reinforcements for good behavior, or you can bring a larger biscuit bone or dental chew to pass the time. Toys will also keep your dog busy, meaning he or she is less likely to whine, bark, growl, or pester you and other guests. Your dog may still do these occasionally throughout the meal, but it is less likely to be a continuous, unstoppable problem. A tired dog is generally a quiet dog. If you can fit your walk in just before going out (or walk to the location), your dog will enjoy sitting still or laying down for more than five seconds. In fact, he or she might even take a nice nap and be blissfully well-behaved. Whenever you go out in public, your dog will be safest on a leash. Busy streets, other dogs, humans, food scents, an annoying squirrel, and other distractions can give your dog a reason to leave your table. This is embarrassing for you, annoying to other guests, and potentially dangerous for your dog.
One of the most important things you can take into account is your dog’s temperament. If your dog is usually skittish, doesn’t like strangers, is a rescue, is a puppy who hasn’t gotten all the necessary shots, recently spayed or neutered, or possessive, your dog might be better off at home. Consider delivery or just running out to pick up dinner, and you can learn to compromise with your dog even when it comes to food.