Taking Your Dog to a Restaurant


We love to dine out with Irie and Tiki whenever possible. It’s something we all enjoy, like yesterday’s lunch at Fredericksburg’s Altdorf restaurant. With two large dogs, it’s not always possible to take them but, as we learned in researching our Texas with Dogs guidebook, many restaurants are very accepting of large dogs on their patios and al fresco dining options.

Here are our tips for dining out with your dog:

  • Eat early or late. Whether you pick the early bird special or you wait, as we did yesterday, until the rush hour is done, select a time when the restaurant isn’t completely packed.
  • Make sure your dog is walked before you dine. If possible, schedule a nice walk and potty break before visiting the restaurant.
  • Look for restaurants with some elbow room. We don’t like to be crowded and neither do our dogs. If you have large dogs, this is extra important.
  • Look for a corner table. If you predict that the restaurant will get busy (as with our visit to Shells restaurant in Port Aransas recently), ask for a corner table. That gave Irie and Tiki some room in the corner and beneath the table; we also didn’t have to worry about one of the dogs being in the way as people tried to walk through the patio restaurant.


  • Bring a chew. Irie and Tiki both get long-lasting bully sticks when we’re at restaurants.


  • Bring your own water dish. We travel with both silicone water dishes (I purchased silicone cake pans at the thrift store and they work great both in the car and on location) and pop up bowls like this one.
  • Keep your dog on a short leash. Our dogs remain in the same safe dog harness they wear in the car, on a leash attached to me.
  • Don’t tether your dog to the table. This is a recipe for disaster of slapstick proportions. If you have a waist leash, this is a great time to use it to keep your dogs closeby.
  • Don’t feed or water your dog from restaurant plates.
  • Don’t permit your dog to sit in the restaurant chairs or on the table.
  • Watch for discarded food beneath the table. Let’s face it: even in the neatest establishments, discarded food winds up beneath tables. When you sit down, make sure there are no tossed chicken bones or onion rings for Fido to find.
  • Don’t expect everyone to love your dog as much as you do. Of course, we find our dogs immeasurably adorable but we know that not everyone shares our feelings. We try to keep the dogs as unobtrusive as possible before, during, and after the meal.

We love it when we receive good feedback from fellow diners and especially restaurant management. In Fredericksburg, the manager came over to us after the meal and asked to meet the dogs, saying they were “great dogs and so well behaved,” a sweeter end to our meal than the scrumptious dessert we’d just enjoyed!

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About Paris Permenter

Paris Permenter is the founder and co-publisher of LT Media Group LLC. Along with her husband, John Bigley, she edits DogTipper.com, CatTipper.com, and has authored over 30 books on pets and travel.

  • Great tips. I also love getting up from our table with Honey and hearing someone at a nearby table say, “Wow, there’s a dog. I didn’t even know she was there.”

    I also have a compact travel bed that fits under a table. It makes resting on a concrete patio for an hour or so much more comfortable.

    • What a great idea, Pamela! I also have some roll-up cooling mats for our dogs, too, that I’ll have to pull out when the weather gets even warmer!

  • Stacey Van Horn

    We have taken our dogs out to eat and always try to follow these but I have seen others struggling with it. Taking your dog with you can be fun but if you are not prepared, it won’t be as enjoyable. These are great tips to make sure everyone has a good time during your next meal out with the dogs!

    • Yes, it’s so easy to plan and grab a few items in advance…it sure makes a difference in the success of the meal! Thank you!

  • Great tips!

  • Roseanne Coggan

    Our two Border Collies are trained as service dogs my girl Mia is a Diabetic Alert dog and my son’s dog Capell is a emotional support dog for his PTSD and Anxiety attacks.I am going to try the mat and cool mat ideas for hot Texas days.We already bring our own water along for them.