Should Dogs Be Allowed in Restaurants?



Dogs dining by our side. What’s wrong with that? Apparently there is a certain contingency of naysayers to negate dining with dogs out there. Yours truly does not mean 5-star-in-your-lap dining, but the al fresco sort. The kind where well-behaved dogs sit by you, be the loving family members they are, and rejoice in a meal by their mom or dad’s side. Should dogs be allowed in restaurants?

In compliance with state health codes, more and more eateries are realizing that the way to their patron’s hearts is through their stomach and at the end of a leash—Fido’s.

I get asked often, “Why exactly can’t my dog eat by my side in a restaurant?” I’ve heard countless numbers of people tell me how well behaved, current on vaccines/titers, and quiet their dogs are. De-wormed and have a clean bill of health? Why not?

The FDA prohibits live animals in restaurants where food is served. Apparently this excludes tanks of fish. Concerns of pets defecating on the floor and employees petting the dog(s) and then not washing their hands raises concerns from “the other side.”

One of the first states to allow dogs to sit by their owners at outdoor seating sections of restaurants was Florida. Slowly, more and more states have caught on and realize that dogs mean dollars. In these economic times, wouldn’t it then make sense to allow Fido to dine with you? How many of us work all day, come home and feel guilty leaving Fido yet again to head for dining pleasures sans the dog? I don’t eat out any longer; I am a happier person, I am saving money, and I share meals with my pooch. I am part of the norm these days.

In traveling with dogs for over 20 years, I’ve seen many restaurants allowing outdoor dog-friendly seating but the dog had to remain on the rail outside the patio or beyond the actual tables. How does this make sense? Airborne is airborne, whether a dog spreads something or a person next to me sneezes.


Each week, my pooch and I head out as a family for “mommy and me night.” If the weather is nice, we start with a ball playing session at the park. We hit up the local pet supply stores (the big three around here), chain and independent variety, check out the latest merchandise, mingle with the others who are having a night out with Fido, and then head to a fast food restaurant for afterwards. The girls have gotten to known Dexter, so we order “the usual:” a sweet tea and fries for me and a hamburger plain for him. Dex gets to socialize, sniff, be in new environments and I get to enjoy being the dog mom I pride myself in being 24/7.

Dogs should be well socialized, clean, and have basic manners before pet parents should consider allowing their dog to eat al fresco with them. My dog has his Canine Good Citizen (CGC) title.

So we’re curious: Does your dog belong in a restaurant? If so, what restrictions should be enforced? What about outdoor restaurants and cafes? Would you ever consider taking your dog(s) to a restaurant? Have you ever done so?

Would love to hear from you on either side of the fence.

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  1. CHAZZthe Dog and I enjoy weekend mornings together either fast food plain burger or for a leisurely time we sit at the outside tables of our little French bistro . I enjoying a latte and croissant Chazz and I share some fresh fruits !!

    1. Very well said, Barbara. I love the time I spend with my dog when we eat out. So glad you and Chazz get to do it, too!

  2. Before Ducky joined the family, I occasionally took Callie and Shadow to Panera Bread with me when I went there for lunch with my husband. One of us would stay at the table on the patio with the dogs and the other would go in and get our meals so that the dogs wouldn’t have to stay in the car. We’ve grown tired of Panera’s lunch menu, though, so we no longer bother. And, the girls are happier at home where they can lay down on the soft, clean carpet instead of the rough, dirty cement. Ducky has, until very recently, been very leash reactive when strangers are near me so it would not have been a good idea to bring her along. Now, that said, I’m torn on the issue of dogs being allowed inside a restaurant. I KNOW my own dogs are clean but I know nothing about a stranger and his/her dog. And there are some people who just cannot keep their hands off a dog regardless of an owner’s request to do so. So, I can understand the government policy about it; but at the same time, I can understand someone like you with a well-behaved, friendly dog wanting to reward the dog with such a wonderful treat.

    1. I do believe there need to be rules in place and those rules should be followed. So, I truly echo your statement about strangers’ dogs. I am glad you are able to see that it might not be for everyone. Thanks for weighing in!

  3. I would like to say yes but, there are too many unmanageable, untrained dogs and unruly children who destroy the joy of dining out. I don’t blame thedog or the child, but the parents. While it is unfortunate, those who have well mannered dogs & kids pay the price.

    1. From coast to coast, canines are being catered to in al fresco style. Many restaurants and outdoor cafes are opening their doors to dogs, as long as they are well-behaved. Yours truly has been to many a restaurant where my dog sits quietly by my side as a toddler throws a temper tantrum nearby, but I digress.

      In compliance with state health codes, more and more eateries are realizing that the way to their patron’s hearts is through their stomach and at the end of a leash—Fido’s. I always tell folks that if you are traveling, call ahead or check the local visitor’s bureau to find out what restaurants allow dogs either inside or on their patio.

  4. I take my dogs with me to restaurants/cafes who have dog friendly outdoor seating. But, I don’t think dogs should always be allowed inside at restaurants. It would certainly be nice to sometimes bring my dog along, but likely at the expense of other diners who simply don’t like or are afraid of/allergic to dogs. I would go to a dog friendly restaurant if they had good food, but I wouldn’t push to have dogs allowed at all restaurants.

  5. Most restaurants and bars here allow dogs at the outside tables, so I enjoy that. We had a lovely holiday in France and I went inside a number of restaurants with my bipeds. It was lovely to be able to ge everywhere with them.

  6. I’d like to be able to take my pup sometimes.He loves to go through the drive-thru at our local Wendy’s.He gets attention and usually a couple of bites of fries.I had not thought of getting him a kiddie burger,he just may get one next time we go thanks to you and Dexter :).We usually take him with us when we go to the grocery store…my husband sits in the car with him,you would not believe the attention this little boy garners…tickles my heart.It does help that he is a handsome and charming little fella.

  7. I believe it is a cultural problem. In Germany we were allowed in just about every restaurant. Dogs go out to eat from the time they are tiny puppies. They learn how to behave in public and most of the time the other diners don’t even know the dog is there until you leave. In the US, so many dogs are just not properly socialized and not properly trained which makes taking them to stores, restaurants, etc, problematic. It is rather sad as it was so nice taking the dogs everywhere.

  8. We have a few restaurants that allow well-behaved dogs on outdoor patios. I think it is nice. But I do understand if there are certain people who are allergic to or have phobias about dogs. We’ve been asked to move to a distant table on a patio before for such a reason and that was okay with me.

  9. In our travels we have ate at some bistros, small cafés and restaurants that have patio seating and boys were welcome. I can understand why they aren’t allowed inside because of Heath laws.

  10. Let’s be honest for a minute here: today, at work, I found a puggle hairin my food at a restaurant that didn’t allow dogs and where Koly wasn’t joining me. I think the dog hair issues exist whether dogs or just dog people are in attendance. LOL!

    While I wouldn’t say that I think it should be mandated that restaurants be pet friendly, I do think each restaurant should be able to chose for themselves. As the owner, they then get to decide which clientele they want to cater to. That way people who aren’t dog people can choose restaurants that are pet free and pet people can choose to support businesses that are. I know of one cafe in Seattle that choses to be dog friendly (and happily pays the fine for not complying to the codes. They say they make more money doing that, then they do banning pets.)

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