Doggy Diners. The Best Restaurants for Your Dog to Eat In

Introduction

In recent years, there has been a growing trend of restaurants catering specifically to dogs by offering dog-friendly menus and environments. More and more restaurants are realizing the benefits of accommodating dogs and their owners by providing a place where dogs are welcome to dine alongside their humans. From major cities like New York and Los Angeles to small towns across North America, restaurants featuring gourmet meals for dogs are popping up to meet the rising demand.

For many pet owners, their dogs are beloved family members they want to bring along on all their adventures. The ability to enjoy a nice meal at a restaurant with Fido by their side is a huge draw. Whereas previously dogs were seen as unwelcome in most eateries, now restaurants are actively courting dog-loving customers by ensuring their pets can be comfortably accommodated. From offering special menus of nutritious and delicious doggie entrees to providing water bowls and treats, these restaurants cater specifically to canine clientele. For dog owners, the chance to share a special meal out with their furry best friend is an opportunity they’re eager to take advantage of.

Pet Health Considerations

Dogs have different dietary needs and nutritional requirements than humans. Many human foods can be harmful or even toxic to dogs if consumed in large quantities. According to Hill’s Pet Nutrition, human food often contains ingredients like chocolate, raisins, grapes, macadamia nuts, almonds, onions and garlic which can be dangerous for dogs.

Some key health precautions owners should take when feeding dogs human food (PetMD, 2022):

– Limit portion sizes to 10% or less of total daily calories
– Avoid overly fatty, salty, or sugary foods
– Don’t give cooked bones which can splinter and cause obstructions
– Avoid grapes, raisins, chocolate, onions, garlic due to toxicity
– Remove pits and seeds which can cause intestinal blockages
– Never feed dogs raw meat or eggs due to risk of salmonella

While small amounts of certain human foods are safe, a dog’s health depends on a balanced diet specifically formulated for their nutritional needs. It’s best to consult your veterinarian before introducing any new foods or making significant changes to your dog’s diet.

Types of Dog-Friendly Restaurants

There is a wide range of dog-friendly dining options, from casual outdoor cafes to upscale pet bistros. On the casual end, many fast food chains like Burger King, Dairy Queen, and Wendy’s allow dogs on their patios. Chain restaurants like Panera Bread, Starbucks, and Chipotle also commonly have outdoor seating where dogs are welcome. These provide a relaxed, affordable option for pets and owners to dine together. According to the Whole Dog Journal, national chains like Lazy Dog Restaurant, Ben & Jerry’s, Lowe’s Foods, and Eatsa all permit dogs on their patios or in outdoor seating areas as well https://www.whole-dog-journal.com/lifestyle/are-there-restaurants-that-allow-dogs/.

On the higher end, some restaurants cater specifically to canine clientele with gourmet pet menus. According to BringFido, restaurants like Lazy Dog Restaurant in California, Rocco’s Tacos in Colorado, and Ruffino’s Steakhouse and Yard Bar in Louisiana offer specialized dog menus with pet-friendly foods like chicken, rice, and even dog-safe ice cream. These restaurants provide an upscale dining experience for both owners and pets to indulge together. Le Charley Dog Cafe in Pennsylvania even has an entirely separate dog section for patrons to wine and dine with their pups. As more owners want to share experiences with their pets, these pet-friendly bistros and cafes are on the rise.

a dog dining at an upscale pet bistro

Popular Menu Items for Dogs

Many restaurants offer special menu items just for dogs. Some of the most popular options include:

Entrees:

  • Grilled chicken or steak with vegetables (such as at Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar, according to BringFido.com) [1]
  • Hamburger patty (like at Shake Shack) [2]
  • Dog burritos or tacos (found at some Mexican restaurants) [3]

Treats:

  • Puppuccinos (whipped cream topped drinks from Starbucks) [2]
  • Frosty Paws (ice cream from Dairy Queen) [2]
  • Doggie cupcakes or cookies (like at Sprinkles bakery) [2]

Beverages:

  • Bottled water
  • Broth

Many restaurants will provide dog-friendly menu items and treats if you ask! Just check with your server to see what options they may have.

a dog being served a puppuccino drink

Providing a Dog-Friendly Environment

To create a welcoming space for dogs, restaurants can provide certain accommodations like designated dog-friendly areas, water bowls, and treats. Having a separate outdoor or indoor area just for dogs allows them to relax without disturbing other patrons. This space should be comfortable with shade and seating. Providing water bowls allows dogs to stay hydrated, especially on hot days. Offering dog biscuits or other special treats makes dogs feel pampered. Some restaurants may even create a small dog menu. The key is making dogs feel like valued customers too.

According to https://foodtruckempire.com/restaurant/dog-friendly/, restaurants can designate part of their patio or outdoor area specifically for dogs and their owners. This creates a comfortable space for dogs without impacting other guests. The area should have shade, seating, water bowls, and waste bags. Well-behaved dogs should be allowed in the main dining area on leashes.

Location Considerations

Restaurants looking to allow dogs need to consider local laws and regulations. Many states and municipalities have specific rules about dogs in outdoor dining areas, while the FDA provides guidelines for indoor spaces like kitchens. According to the FDA’s updated food code, restaurants can permit dogs in outdoor dining areas if they receive approval from local regulators (Source).

For example, California allows dogs in outdoor dining spaces like patios as long as the restaurant complies with health codes and local ordinances. However, some cities like San Diego prohibit dogs from being present where food is prepared, handled, or stored (Source). Restaurants must research zoning laws and apply for relevant permits if needed. It’s important for dog-friendly establishments to be aware of city and county regulations.

Beyond legal requirements, restaurants also consider customer demand when deciding whether to welcome dogs. Locations near dog parks or in pet-friendly neighborhoods are more likely to benefit from catering to dog owners. Restaurants can survey their existing customers or local community groups to gauge interest before investing in dog amenities.

Business Benefits

Marketing and financial benefits are key reasons restaurants are choosing to cater to dogs. According to the Pets Welcome Toolkit, dog-friendly establishments see an average increase of 8.6% in revenue as well as growth in new customers after going pet-friendly[1]. Owners tend to visit dog-friendly spots more often and spend around 15-33% more per visit when their pet is included[2]. WebstaurantStore found dogs can attract business off-peak hours like weekends and holidays too[3].

a restaurant patio full of people with dogs

There’s clear demand for dog-friendly dining. Approximately 60% of U.S. households own a pet[1] so marketing to them can expand reach tremendously. Those new customers also tend to be very loyal once you accommodate their beloved companions. Satisfied pet parents will visit repeatedly and recommend you to other pet lovers[2]. This organic word-of-mouth advertising has powerful effects.

Making Fido feel at home pays dividends. With some thoughtful policies, training, and preparation, restaurants can cater to dog diners and enjoy booming business.

[1] https://www.bettercitiesforpets.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Pets-Welcome-Toolkit-MedRes.pdf?fbclid=IwAR0ac7yGnYxn2w0pucROo55TvxFOEstlFQu3OPMkUWzZyVV83iOTtgvApME

[2] https://www.webstaurantstore.com/blog/2490/dog-friendly-restaurants.html

[3] https://www.pjponline.com/help/article/how-to-make-your-restaurant-more-dog-friendly/

Training Staff

To provide excellent service in a dog-friendly restaurant, staff require specialized training on handling canine customers and their owners. According to an article on the Restaurant Business website, employees should be taught basic dog behavior and body language to understand a dog’s needs. For example, recognizing signs of stress like lip licking or yawning can prevent problems before they occur.

Staff must also learn how to approach dogs, offer treats, and interact with them appropriately. Simple steps like not touching a dog without permission and letting it sniff first help make dogs comfortable. Additionally, employees should know basic commands to ask owners to restrain jumping or nipping. With proper training on dog handling, staff can create a calm environment where all customers feel welcome.

Articles from GoPetFriendly.com and Leader of the Pack Dog Training further recommend roleplaying dog scenarios during training. This allows staff to practice appropriate responses if a dog barks, lunges, or gets anxious. Hands-on training builds confidence handling these situations smoothly. With preparation, staff at dog-friendly eateries can deliver excellent service to both canine and human customers.

Safety Precautions

When allowing dogs at a restaurant, it’s important to take proper safety precautions for the health and wellbeing of pets, owners, staff, and other patrons. Here are some tips:

Make sure dogs are kept on leashes and under control at all times. Aggressive or poorly trained dogs should not be permitted. Consider having pet owners sign a waiver agreeing to take responsibility for their dog’s behavior. Train staff on what to do if a dog behaves aggressively or causes an incident (source).

Separate pet seating areas from other patrons who may have allergies or phobias. Outdoor seating is ideal. Indoors, consider a separate room or barricaded space (source).

Sanitize areas properly where dogs have been before seating new patrons. Have a strict cleanup policy for any accidents. Use pet-safe cleaners.

Enforce rules about no dogs in food preparation areas, per health codes. Kitchen doors should remain closed.

Train staff on interacting with dogs. Do not touch or feed dogs without owner permission.

Have fresh water available for pets. Consider offering special doggie menus or treats.

Make sure entryways don’t have tripping hazards and walk areas are non-slip. Take steps to prevent dogs running loose.

Having clear rules, policies, and procedures will help create a safe dog-friendly environment for all.

The Future

The trend of dog-friendly restaurants is projected to continue growing rapidly in the coming years. According to one report, the market for pet-friendly dining is expected to increase by over 15% annually through 2026 (Bon Appetit, 2022). This growth is fueled by pet owners’ desires to bring their dogs more places and spend money on high-quality experiences.

As the trend expands, restaurants are innovating to better cater to canine clientele. Some innovations include doggie tasting menus with gourmet preparations tailored to dogs’ nutritional needs, dog-centric food trucks for quick casual dining, and private dog dining rooms decked out with amenities like televisions playing animal shows (NY Times, 2023). Apps and services dedicated to dog-friendly dining are also emerging, allowing owners to discover and book reservations at pet-friendly eateries.

Looking even further ahead, some predict fully automated robotic restaurants catering exclusively to dogs, with machines custom-preparing and serving individualized meals based on the dog’s owner’s input. Integrations with veterinarians could even allow the dog’s health data to inform specialized meal plans. As technology develops in tandem with this growing trend, the possibilities for innovative dog-centric dining experiences are endless.

a futuristic robot restaurant for dogs

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