Yappy Hour
© Gianna Lucci

Your dog and other diners will both be happy.

Jillian Kramer
September 20, 2017

With the laws becoming laxer, even in some of the most bustling cities in America, more people can now bring their pooches along for a patio dining experience.

But, it turns out, there is a right way to bring your dog to a restaurant—and some very wrong ways. So, we turned to industry insiders for tips on bringing your dog to a restaurant. Hand here's what they had to say.

1. Do a little restaurant research.

Don't assume any patio restaurant will welcome your dog. Before you bring out his leash, pick up your phone: "You can avoid any potential issues before you get there by finding out what's acceptable at the restaurant and what they recommend for pets," says Dani Bailey, general manager of Flower Child Santa Monica.

2. Feed your dog before you feed yourself.

We don't mean from your own piping hot plate. (See tip Number four.) Serve your dog his favorite kibble or a handful of treats at home—so that when your pup smells tantalizing beef brisket or roast chicken, he will (hopefully) be too full to go for dessert. "If your dog's hungry, he may try to eat guests' food," Bailey says.

3. Bring your own bowls.

While a restaurant is happy to lend you a bowl of water for your pooch, it's not really their responsibility to do so—and think about it: seeing your dog slurp from a bowl brought out from the kitchen can gross out other guests. "We have a lot of dog owners who demand not only water but a doggie bowl once they sit down," says Alice Woo, co-owner of Belly and Sweet Belly in Oakland and owner of three dogs. "We are dog lovers and happy to accommodate, but it's also a dog owners responsibility to be prepared with [supplies]."

4. Don't let your dog eat off your plate.

Can't finish that last piece of chicken? It may be tempting, but don't set your plate on the ground for your dog to clean off. Put simply, that move is a major a health-code violation, warns PJ Lamont, restaurateur and co-owner of four restaurants, including Queenstown Public House and Bare Back Grill in San Diego. In fact, by law, "pets are prohibited from eating and drinking from restaurant dishes and glasses," he says.

5. Have your dog sit beneath your table.

Alternatively, if there's space to allow your dog to roam beyond where the tables lie, that's also A-OK. Just "don't let your pooch lay where servers and customers walk," says Woo. "It is not safe for anyone—including the pup. So, make sure your dog is settled comfortably under the table or away from any main paths."

6. Leash your dog at all times.

Even if you can walk your pup without a leash, he or she should be harnessed while you eat. "While some dogs are very well-behaved and follow every command from the owner," Lamont allows, "there's still a chance that you will need to use the leash to keep them wandering or grab them quickly if another dog starts a fight."

7. Dine off-hours.

Eating dinner at 5:30 p.m. with your dog could work out better (for you and other restaurant patrons) than asking for a 7:30 reservation. "If your pet tends to act up more when there are more people around, try to make things easier on yourself and dine at an off-hour, for an early lunch or in between lunch and dinner," suggests Bailey.

8. Be prepared to leave.

If your dog does begin to act up—whether he won't sit still or is barking nonstop at passerby—you may have to ask for a doggie bag. If you're not ready to leave, though, you have another option: "If you find that your dog is barking, or getting a bit anxious, try to take them for a brief stroll for some energy release," Lamont suggests.