5 Things to Remember When Taking Your Dog to a Restaurant

You know it is summertime when all the restaurants pull out their tables and umbrellas to the patio area along side the busy town walks. What a great time to train your dog to have perfect manners when you are eating or socializing with friends around a table. We take full advantage of this situation to work especially with puppies that might not yet be ready for going inside a restaurant. Here is some restaurant training tips to get you started with that pup being raised to be a service dog.

Chocolate Lab pup laying down by table

This pup does not quite have the concept of sleeping under the table yet, he will need more work before he can go out in public.

Any dog in a restaurant will need to be out of the way of wait staff, so your first job is to teach “under” or some similar cue word that tells you dog you need him under the table. This is difficult in a perfect situation and is sometimes complicated by the configuration of the table. I always start at home with tiny pups teaching them to go into a kennel cage, and then when I am eating I give the same command to go under the table. With a 7 or 8 week puppy you may need to lure them with a bit of food, which is OK at first, but you want to get away from that habit as quickly as possible since you will be proofing against food temptations soon. With the young pups you don’t want to make them stay under the table in a down position, they are too young and can’t really concentrate long anyway. I am happy to begin with them just going under the table on command. For eating our meal we will take the lead shorten it up a bit and then sit on it, thus restricting the area the pup can wander. What happens is eventually the pup will be frustrated at not being able to get out from under the table and also from the fact that no one is paying attention to him and they will drop off to sleep. It does not take long to get them going under the table and dosing almost immediately.

To food proof them, I first teach this as a separate exercise in which I put a piece of food on the floor with my hand nearby to cover it up if I need to. If the dog goes for it I cover it; when they back away I uncover it. This goes on for some time until I can leave it uncovered for a long period and the dog will not do anything but sit there. I reward them with the food but only on a cue word such as OK, good dog. If I say nothing they don’t get the food and it goes away. Then we may play with a toy or they may get a belly rub for being good. Later, we try the game in the kitchen when I am cooking. I will drop something when the pup is watching me quietly from one corner of the kitchen. If they go for it I cover it with my foot, and just like before I work up to where I can leave it there and they won’t go for it. Finally after mastering this step I will try dropping food by the table. By the time we get to the table they are so use to the game they will just leave the food alone with no word on my part.

So here are the 5 things to remember when taking a dog in a restaurant:
1.Your dog has to be quiet, under the table and out of the way of the wait staff performing their job
2.Try to be polite when people ask you about the dog
3.Take your dog for a toilet break before you get inside the restaurant
4.Be sure your dog is “food” proofed before you go to the first restaurant
5.Remember the law says if your dog is disruptive to their business the business owner has the right to ask you to leave.

So just be sure you have a sparkling clean dog, that is well mannered and properly proofed before you go out to eat with your dog in public. Bon appétit

4 comments on “5 Things to Remember When Taking Your Dog to a Restaurant

  1. Alicia says:

    So thankful for all of your tips! I love it when we’ve been in a restaurant for awhile. Upon leaving when the dogs appears from under the table, people are so surprised to realize the dog was even there!

  2. Ann says:

    I also think it is very important to teach your service dog not to “shake” inside the restaurant. Getting up from under the table often the dog will want to “shake” .. perhaps to settle the vest or because of lying for an extended time period .. for whatever reason, lets be kind to other patrons that will hear/see the dog shake and be horrified knowing that sends hair flying around their FOOD. I find that putting the dog into a sit, gathering up my things then holding the leash somewhat taut with a reminder “no shake” before walking helps control the dog’s urge. Once outside let leash slack, say “shake” and allow the shake outside…

  3. Having a well behaved dog anywhere we go helps to educate business establishments on the proper conduct a Service Dog and handler should have at all times. This gives them a point of reference for all visiting Service Dogs. And the great comments we get is a feather in our caps for a job well done by both the Service Dog and the handler.

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