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How Friendly are Dog Friendly Restaurants? Part 2

Boathouse Restaurant-Forest Park-St. Louis, MO

So we’re continuing with yesterday’s post on dogs and dining. Having waded through all 169 comments from the Pensacola, FL and Albany, NY blog posts, what I want to know is this: What is it about dogs and dining that so polarizes people opinions?

Some of the angst seems directed at the notion that “nicer,” indoor-seating-only restaurants will be the targets of pet owners’ savage beasts.  But frankly, most of us are just looking for a few bars, cafes, and outdoor doggie dining options to enjoy with our well behaved, leashed companions. If that message were better communicated, would some of the anxiety dissipate? For the rest of this post, let’s imagine that’s what I’m talking about.

Fearrington Village-near Durham, NC

Points and Counterpoints –

The most gracious pro-doggie dining comments simply pointed out that it’s all about having a choice:

  • Everyone should have a place to go.
  • People who prefer to dine sans dogs have many more alternatives available than do people with dogs
  • The decision for a restaurant to go pet friendly should lie with the business owner, not with a city ordinance/state law mandate.

I distilled the negative blog comments down to these major objections … and provided a response that is consistent with GoPetPetFriendly’s manifesto and pet travel code of conduct.

#1.  We just don’t understand why you can’t leave your dog at home. You’ll only be gone a short time … sheesh! It doesn’t matter if you don’t understand. Your comprehension of why and where people want to be with their pets is not relevant to the argument. And note that I didn’t pull out the “kid card” here.

#2.  It’s inconsiderate for pet owners to foist their dogs on people who prefer to eat without dogs. Maybe. But you have so many choices where you can eat. People with pets don’t.

#3.  Dogs are unsanitary. They lick themselves and do their business in plain view. Hmmm. I’ve seen people pick their noses and resume eating. Stick their gum under the table without a second thought. Watched parents rest their baby/toddler on a table wearing an exposed diaper. Ever wonder why employees need to be reminded to wash their hands before returning to work from a trip to the bathroom? Also, dogs walk on the same ground we do and track in the same detritus we do, albeit on four feet instead of two. To convince me of this point’s merit, I need to see statistics that support claims of humans catching diseases from dogs … in restaurants.

#4.  Your dogs are not well behaved. This is one issue I can’t disagree with – because, generally, I concur. My experience is that too many people don’t take the time to properly train their dogs. It only takes a couple of barking/snarling/ growling incidents for non-pet lovers to believe all dogs should be left behind.

#5.  People are allergic to dogs. Yes they are. According to one website, about 10 million Americans (3.3% of the 300 million population) are allergic to dogs.  Another site says: From 15 percent to 30 percent of people with allergies have allergic reactions to cats and dogs… Cat allergies are about twice as common as dog allergies. Note that this statistic is not 15-30% of the population, just 15-30% of the subset of people who have allergies. And again, if you’re allergic, you can choose to eat inside or at a completely different restaurant.

#6.  A dog might bite a customer, and the restaurant would be liable. That’s an issue for the owner to consider and protect against, not you or me.

#7.  It’s against health code regulations. True. But not all laws make sense, and some bad laws are made as a result of special interests, misconceptions, or lack of good information. And let’s not imagine that Europeans are less sanitary than Americans (or Canadians) because they allow dogs inside restaurants, whereas we’re still talking about outdoor doggie dining.

Huck Finn's-La Crosse, WI

Tips for People Dining With Dogs –

  • If your pooch is not ready for prime time, don’t put him on the stage. Train and socialize your dog to behave like it is going to be a service dog, which is generally overlooked by everyone.
  • Sit at a table where your dog can be out of the way, both of other customers and the wait-staff.
  • Be alert for the comings and goings of others so you can anticipate issues before they occur.
  • If your dog acts up, leave.  No fuss, no muss.  Apologize, if appropriate.  Imagine yourself doing better the next time.
  • Patronize dog friendly restaurants, even if you don’t have the fur kids with you, and personally thank management for their policy.
  • And as a general tip for all pet owners, PICK UP AFTER YOUR DOG.  This is THE one common gripe shared by everyone.  The thoughtlessness of some pet owners is extended to anyone and everyone holding a leash.

Tips for People Dining Near Dogs –

  • Ignore the dog. If you see me enjoying a relaxing meal, my dog lying peacefully at my feet, please don’t approach us asking if you can pet the pooch. In exchange, I won’t come over to your table and scratch behind the ears of your kid and get her all worked up.
  • Ask for permission. If you simply can’t resist, please ask for permission to approach us before you stick your hand in my dog’s face. And don’t get hurt feelings if I say no.
  • Be open minded. If you don’t like seeing dogs at restaurants, figure out what really has you bothered and see if it has any basis in fact.

So what do you think? Please share your thoughts and comments with us!

  • Exactly, Diane – a little courtsey and common sense go a long way!

  • I agree simple rules for all :-)

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