A large white and large black dog sitting next to their owners at an outdoor cafe having lunch.

How to Enjoy Lunch with Your Pooch at Cafes that Allow Dogs

Last updated on November 10th, 2023 at 08:54 pm

Many dog owners love to take their furry friends with them wherever they go, including when they go out to eat. However, not all cafes are dog-friendly, and even those that allow dogs may have specific rules and restrictions. That’s why it’s important to know how to enjoy lunch with your dog at cafes that allow dogs while respecting other customers and staff.

Choosing the Right Dog-Friendly Cafe is the first step in ensuring you and your pup have an enjoyable experience. It’s important to research the cafes in your area to find out which ones allow dogs and their specific policies. Some cafes may only allow dogs in outdoor seating areas, while others may restrict the size or breed of dog allowed. It’s also a good idea to read reviews from other dog owners to get an idea of the atmosphere and whether it’s a good fit for you and your dog.

Preparing for the Cafe Visit is also crucial in ensuring a successful outing. This includes making sure your dog is well-behaved, clean, and up-to-date on vaccinations. It’s also important to bring along any necessary supplies, such as water and food bowls, treats, and poop bags. Additionally, it’s a good idea to exercise your dog beforehand to help them relax and behave better while at the cafe.

Key Takeaways

  • Research and choose a dog-friendly cafe that fits your needs and your dog’s personality.
  • Prepare your dog for the outing by ensuring they are well-behaved, clean, and have necessary supplies.
  • Follow guidelines and be respectful of other customers and staff while at the cafe.

Choosing the Right Cafes That Allow Dogs

When looking for a dog-friendly cafe, there are a few key things to keep in mind. First, it is important to ensure that the cafe is dog-friendly and allows pets. This can usually be found on their website or by calling ahead. During nice weather, I prefer outdoor patio areas at the many dog-friendly restaurants. It is much easier to manage my pups, who are well-behaved dogs outside.

It is also important to consider the atmosphere of the cafe. Some cafes may be too busy or loud for dogs, while others may have a more relaxed and comfortable environment. It is recommended to visit the cafe beforehand to get a sense of the atmosphere and see if it would be a good fit for both you and your furry friend.

Another factor to consider is the type of food and drinks offered at the cafe. While some cafes may have a limited menu, others may offer a wide variety of options. It is important to make sure that there are options available for both you and your dog, such as water bowls or dog-friendly menu items.

When it comes to choosing between local spots and chains, it ultimately comes down to personal preference. Local cafes may offer a more unique and personalized experience, while chains such as Starbucks or Panera Bread may have more consistent policies and amenities for dogs.

Overall, it is essential to do your research and choose a dog-friendly cafe that suits the needs of both you and your furry friend. Some popular dog-friendly restaurants include Lazy Dog, Dairy Queen, In-N-Out Burger, Shake Shack, Olive Garden, Panera Bread, Sonic Drive-In, Bruster’s Real Ice Cream, Outback Steakhouse, Johnny Rockets, Baja Fresh, and Joe’s Crab Shack.

Preparing for Lunch at a Dog-Friendly Cafe

Before heading out to a dog-friendly cafe, pet parents should ensure their pup is well-behaved and trained. Basic commands such as “sit” and “stay” can make the cafe visit enjoyable for both the pet and the owner. Additionally, it’s important to keep the dog on a leash at all times to ensure their safety and to comply with local laws.

It’s also important to bring along some essentials for the dog such as water and treats. Many cafes may not have dog-friendly options on their menu, so bringing along some treats can ensure that the pup doesn’t feel left out. A collapsible water bowl can also come in handy to keep the pup hydrated during the visit.

Pet parents should also consider making a reservation ahead of time, especially if they plan on visiting a popular cafe during peak hours. This can help avoid any wait times and ensure that the cafe staff is prepared to accommodate the dog.

It’s important to note that while service animals are allowed in all public places, not all dogs are considered service animals. Pet owners should ensure that their dog is well-behaved and trained to avoid any issues or conflicts during the cafe visit.

Lastly, pet parents should also consider the exercise needs of their dog. A cafe visit can be an excellent opportunity for a leisurely stroll to and from the cafe, but it’s important to ensure that the dog gets enough exercise throughout the day.

Be Prepared for the Weather

On a chilly day, some smaller dogs may need a sweater. The heat lamps may not reach them. You may also want to take a dog blanket for your dog to lie on if the ground is cold. But also make sure that there is shade if it is a hot day, and plenty of water. A good rule of thumb, is that if you are too cold or too hot, your dog may be as well. So, make sure you all dress accordingly.

Practice at Home with Your Dog before Heading Out

To begin with, start having lunch with your dog at home both inside and outside. Your dog should know a couple of basic commands such as “sit” and “off” at a minimum. You don’t want your dog to jump on the table, and you want him to sit or lie down while you eat. Do not feed your dog from the table. Encourage him to lie quietly next to you or under the table while you have lunch. You can give him treats or a special toy to keep him occupied.

Do not feed your dog from the table!

Human food is only sometimes good for your four-legged friends, especially from restaurants. Please look at my post about feeding your dog kibble for more information about which human foods are good or toxic for dogs. Additionally, you want your dog to be focused on something other than the food on your plate and not have expectations about getting scraps. This is a good rule in general at home and while eating out. Otherwise, you may get a beggar whining and pawing at you each time you try to eat.

At the Cafe: Tips and Guidelines

When bringing your dog to a cafe, it is important to follow certain guidelines to ensure a comfortable and safe experience for both you and your furry friend. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

Check the Cafe’s Policies

Before heading out to a cafe with your dog, make sure to check their policies regarding pets. Some cafes may only allow dogs in outdoor seating or patio area, while others may have a designated dog menu or yappy hour. It is also important to ensure that the cafe follows health code guidelines.

Choose Comfortable Outdoor Seating

When selecting a table, choose a comfortable outdoor seating area that is shaded and has access to drinking water. This will help keep your dog cool and hydrated during your meal. Some cafes may also provide water bowls for dogs.

Bring Your Own Dog Food

Georgia is enjoying her carrot at lunch.
Georgia really loves carrots!

While some cafes may have a dog menu, bringing your dog food, such as brown rice or pasta is always a good idea. This will ensure that your dog gets a meal suitable for their dietary needs.

I always carry a stash of dog treats as well as carrots which my pups love to munch on! Otherwise, I am tempted to give them something from my plate.

You can also pack a small water bowl and dish for treats. Although some pet friendly restaurants offer water bowls for dogs. You may also want to pack one of his favorite chewy toys or a small Kong toy (Amazon, affiliate link) with almond or peanut butter inside.

How to Navigate and Enjoy Your Lunch Together–Keep Your Dog on a Leash!

To ensure the safety of your dog and other patrons, keep your dog on a leash at all times. This will also prevent them from running around and disrupting other diners.

Once you are finally at the restaurant, let the greeter seat you in their designated pet area. I find they often led us to a corner area or a table away from other dogs and large groups, which is what I prefer. I often go during off hours when possible to avoid a crowded space, so I don’t have to manage my dogs as much.

My two dogs Charlotte and Georgia sitting near an outdoor dining table with leashes on.

Once we are seated, I immediately tuck both of my dogs under the table and ask them to sit. I usually secure their leashes to my belt or wrap it around my left wrist. Never tie your dog to the table or chair! Your dog can easily tip over a table or chair if they decide to take off.

Keeping them tucked under the table keeps them calmer. I usually feed them treats throughout my lunch to keep them content. If another dog walks by, I may need to reposition them and give them their carrot to distract them.

Follow Proper Etiquette

When dining with your dog, it is important to follow proper etiquette. This includes cleaning up after your dog, not allowing them to beg for food, and keeping them quiet and calm. Remember, not everyone may be comfortable around dogs, so be respectful of others.

By following these tips and guidelines, you can enjoy a pleasant lunch with your furry friend at a dog-friendly cafe.

Exploring Regional Dog-Friendly Cafes

If you’re looking for a dog-friendly cafe to enjoy lunch with your furry friend, there are plenty of options available in different regions of the United States. Here are some of the best dog-friendly cafes in different areas:

West Coast

The West Coast is known for its laid-back vibe and love of pets. In California, you can find many dog-friendly cafes, such as The Patio on Goldfinch in San Diego, which offers a dog menu and water bowls for your pup. In Seattle, you can try out Norm’s Eatery & Ale House, which has a dog-friendly outdoor patio and serves up delicious pub food.


The South is home to many dog-friendly cafes, such as the Magnolia Cafe in Austin, Texas, which has a dog-friendly patio and serves up tasty breakfast dishes. In San Antonio, you can check out The Cove, which has a dog park and serves up burgers, sandwiches, and craft beer.

New York and Chicago

If you’re in New York, you can visit the Barking Dog Luncheonette, which has a dog-friendly outdoor patio and serves up classic American fare. In Chicago, you can check out the Handlebar, which has a dog-friendly patio and serves up vegetarian and vegan dishes.

Pandemic Considerations

Due to the pandemic, many cafes have changed their policies regarding pets. It’s important to call ahead and confirm the cafe’s pet policy before you go. Some cafes may require your dog to be on a leash or have specific rules for outdoor seating areas.

The good news is there are many dog-friendly cafes across the United States that will welcome you with open arms so you and your furry friend can enjoy a meal. With a little research and planning, you can find the perfect spot to relax and enjoy good food with your four-legged family member by your side.

Going to Lunch Together Can be One of Your Most Enjoyable Adventures!

I have a favorite restaurant near me that has a large outdoor area overlooking a large pond. It is a very popular place that is very pet friendly. I was required complete a registration form. Then they gave me a pass to present each time we came, which made it very simple to check-in.

Preparing your dogs for luncheon outings can be the first step to taking your dog on a trip. Just be sure you check ahead for pet friendly motels and cafes, so you have options while traveling. With the abundance fast food drive-ups and Starbucks coffee houses, you should have plenty of options.

Comments are closed.

Scroll to Top