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Should dogs be allowed in restaurants?

Courtesy Paw House Inn

Courtesy Paw House Inn

Many years ago my parents took me and my sister on vacation in France. I remember being absolutely blown away when we were in a restaurant one night and the woman sitting at the table next to us opened her purse and pulled out….a dog!

For the rest of the meal it sat in her lap, waiting patiently as she fed it smidgens off her plate. I can’t imagine she had the most enjoyable time because my sister and I kept giggling throughout the meal.

I noticed a little back and forth on the subject of dogs in restaurants yesterday on this blog in the post about the new Thirsty Dog Tavern, which will be dog friendly.

As a sometimes travel writer, I hear all the time about hotels and restaurants that are dog friendly. The Paw House Inn in Vermont bills itself as a resort for dogs and their owners.

I will admit to being a dyed-in-the-fur cat person and really don’t like dogs who want to slobber all over me, no matter how noble their intentions. That said, I have no problem with well behaved dogs, whether they are in a park or lying by the restaurant patio table next to mine. Dogs in restaurants are like kids in restaurants: if they behave reasonably well, I’m happy to see them there.

What do you think? Do you mind dogs in restaurants?

207 comments Add your comment


March 31st, 2010
12:04 pm

Dogs are not clean – I prefer not to see them in places where I’m eating.

Food Fan

March 31st, 2010
12:08 pm

NO – IT IS NOT OK TO BRING YOUR DOG TO A RESTAURANT. It’s gross while I’m eating. While I hear all the stuff about how much cleaner dogs are than humans, blah blah – I still don’t want them around me while I’m eating. I don’t mind the pet-friendly restaurants, but no way would I ever go to one.

For the record, I feel the same way about the birds at R Thomas. I don’t want to feel like I’m eating in a birdcage. And the owner comes and takes out the birds while you’re eating and brings them to your table, yuck. The guy reminds me of the Heaven’s Gate cult leader crossed with Ace Ventura Pet Detective.

Beijing Bean Counter

March 31st, 2010
12:27 pm

Dogs should ONLY be allowed in restaurants here in Atlanta if they are grilled, steamed, baked or barbecued like they are in Beijing.


March 31st, 2010
12:39 pm

It’s simple. Whoever owns the restaurant has the right to decide whether or not to allow dogs. As a consumer, we have the right to chose whether or not to spend our money at these establishments. If a place can’t be profitable, because no one wants to go there because they think that dogs are unclean, then they place will fail or be forced to change their policy. This is also exactly how smoking should be handled. We all should be able to make choices of our own (establishment owners & patrons) and the free market will dictate if these policies are acceptable or not.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by John Kessler. John Kessler said: Should dogs be allowed in restaurants? [...]

Grammar Queen

March 31st, 2010
12:58 pm

I used to love going for walks with my dog and ending up on a deck or patio. The everywhere you went, you started seeing signs saying, “By order of the health department, no dogs allowed on patio.” I never really understood why. I’m thrilled to be able to take my dog again. YES to dogs on patios and decks.


March 31st, 2010
1:03 pm

Never ever ever would I want to be in a restaurant with a dog (or a cat for that matter!). Or on a patio or deck, even at a friends house. We’ve got enough phobias of finding people hair in our food, pet hair is much worse!


March 31st, 2010
1:03 pm

i typically don’t mind dogs on a patio, but a few weeks ago on the first great Saturday of spring there were probably 6-8 dogs at Meehan’s and several spent a good amount of time barking at each other. no thanks to that.


March 31st, 2010
1:10 pm

Well said Matt. We take our well-behaved dogs to the many dog-friendly patios around Atlanta and we appreciate being able to do that. We look forward to the opening if Thirsty Dog.


March 31st, 2010
1:14 pm

I do not understand why my well-behaved docile lapdog dog (who has barked only twice in five years and has never slobbered on anyone) cannot go to a restaurant, but unruly children and crying babies are allowed to ruin my dinner without consequence.

Another very nice people/pet resort is the Stanford Inn in Mendocino, CA, where dogs are allowed to accompany their people to meals in the Inn’s reception area.


March 31st, 2010
1:30 pm

I am with Matt on this one.I f the owner of the restaurant allows it, then let them deal with the consequences, be it positive or negative. I personally love taking my well-behaved dog to any patio that allows me to and I do feel that if you don’t like having a dog next to you on the patio then suck it up and eat inside or don’t eat there.


March 31st, 2010
1:39 pm

No. on a patio, OK. But not in a restaurant. The first time we went to Paris and saw one in a restaurant (a McDonald’s at that!) we turned around and walked out. Then on the flight home, there was a DOG sitting on the seat right behind us and kennels in the cabin. This was back in the mid 70s and I am still remembering the smell of lysol. So NO.


March 31st, 2010
1:48 pm

I love how LindaB just compared dogs to babies and small children. I guess some parents don’t know how to ‘train” their kids. I think babies that are too loud should be kept in the car. Just make sure you roll the window down a little.


March 31st, 2010
1:54 pm

Agreed with the above who say it’s up to the owners. Let the customers, or lack thereof, be the judge of whether it’s a good or bad idea. I love taking my dog to a patio and in this town, they are few and far between. I think there is a market for it, however.


March 31st, 2010
2:10 pm

Pffft on all of you dog haters. I’m with Matt. My dogs are extremely well behaved and prefer to be hanging out under a table and watching people. They agree with me – most people are dumb, dumb, dumb!


March 31st, 2010
2:13 pm

I love having my dogs out on a deck or patio, but I’m not really sure if I want them indoors. It’s two different dining experiences. What do servers think about having to step over dogs when they’re trying to carry trays of drinks or hot food?


March 31st, 2010
2:31 pm

I suppose it is moot to point out that it is against health department regulations to have dogs or cats in any eating establishment at any time.

I love dogs (cats are ok but I wouldn’t own one)but I do not want them sharing restaurant space with me.

Lisa: so you went to Paris and then ate at McDonald’s? You must be quite the seasoned traveler, LOL. Where did you stay? Howard Johnson’s?!?

Patios are fine for pets–but inside is a no-no and I would not patronize any establishment that allowed animals inside. (Except those assisiting the blind, of course!)

The Magig Iowan

March 31st, 2010
2:37 pm

I’m a dog fan,..but not in restaurants so much. Actually, I probably don’t really care either way, I just would not bring mine because it would just be a hassle. Who wants to handle a hyperactive boxer while trying to eat in public? No thanks. Tho to be fair, I used to have a Rat Terrier named Moose that would go to the old local bar with me and perch up on a stool and sit quiet as a mouse till it was time to go.

East Lake Ira

March 31st, 2010
2:51 pm

Dogs on a patio = rocking good time

Dogs inside = yech

My dollars follow the above rules. (Also works with children under 10)


March 31st, 2010
3:09 pm

If it’s a SERVICE DOG, that’s one thing but they’re not accessories and the management has ever right to deny you service. Also other diners have every right to complain if this causes allergy, hygiene, ODOR or whatever.

At the very least they can complain that the pooches are not wearing SHOES and SHIRTS and therefore should not be allowed.


March 31st, 2010
3:23 pm

I’d be more comfortable with my dog in a restaurant than any of my grandchildren, but then I am not the one who trained them. My dog has a delightful personality and knows her place, she does not demand.


March 31st, 2010
4:07 pm

That didn’t take long.
There’s no pleasing people who endlessly complain about “unruly” children somehow ruining their dining experience. Do you think those type of people will ever accept dogs? HA!
Get over yourselves. I don’t particularly enjoy having to hear your shrill complaint about getting 5 less porcini mushrooms than the last time you had the risotto but I get that restaurants are public places and that I have a choice. So do you.
On topic, I’ve had dinner twice at a restaurant in London called Wodka. I’m not sure if they allowed dogs overall but the owners dog – a Parsons Russell Terrier – wandered the small restaurant and bar area without little notice that people were eating or that people were even there. I was amused over this quirky little dog and wished places in the US were as open. Oh and the food was amazing.


March 31st, 2010
6:57 pm

I’m a big fan of dog-friendly patios. Quite frankly I’ve never considered dining indoors with ours, but at 75 lbs, I agree he could be a tripping hazard for the staff.

I’ve certainly had my share of unpleasant experiences with ill-behaved children or fussy babies in restaurants and would pick dog-friendly over kid-friendly any day.

S.C. Foodie

March 31st, 2010
7:34 pm

Well, I am an animal lover, but I am also a bit of a neat and clean freak. It is important to keep a place where one eats, for example a restaurant, sanitary. Having an inside cat, I have learned it can be quite hard to clean up after them, especially if they are shedding. Bringing animals inside a restaurant I think is not a good idea. However, if a restaurant is equip with a lovely outdoor dining area, where the air is fresh and a breeze flows by every so often, letting a “well behaved” and clean dog join you for a cup of coffee or a soup and sandwich isn’t such a bad idea.


March 31st, 2010
9:30 pm

Kevin, long long story about who knows french, not my husband, and a very very long day. McDonald’s was just familiar. We eventually ate in the restaurant on level 2 of the Eiffel Tower. Then one night for dinner, we at at a pizza joint with a vietnamese waiter who spoke English. We are way more experienced travelers now.


March 31st, 2010
9:57 pm

@ Matt: “We all should be able to make choices of our own (establishment owners & patrons) and the free market will dictate if these policies are acceptable or not.”

Hear, hear! I agree with you 100% – not just about the dog issue in particular, but the larger concept in general.


April 1st, 2010
3:11 am

We’ve got a couple members in our family who are allergic to both cats and dogs so NO! I don’t want someone else’s dog or cat hair to somehow get on our food – either by a friendly waiter petting someone’s beloved pet or being brushed up against a dog – or however that animal hair / dander may get in our food.

Just like ‘unruly’ children, there would be some dog owner who thinks their dog is the cutest by shaking itsself to wake up, sniffing your food or a large dog wagging his tail near your plate. Blech. Like parents of unruly children, dog owners are oblivious in thinking that everyone likes their dog just as much as they do. For instance, I’ve got a little child who is allergic to dogs and I can’t tell you how many times we were playing at the park and some dog owner will have their dog either on or OFF their leash, coming up to my kid wanting to play, be pet or to simply sniff my kid out while my kid is panicking inside but trying to remain calm and walk away from the dog and the ignorant dog owner is smiling thinking it’s cute as he / she catches up with their dog. I’ll quickly get in between the dog and my child or pick my child up if he is close enough while the owner proceeds to tell me how friendly their dog is, how he / she would never bite, etc. I could care less how friendly your dog is, I don’t want it anywhere near my kid and I certainly don’t anyone’s dog anywhere near our food!

Now with that said, if the restaurant was OBVIOUSLY catering towards the ‘doggie’ crowd, we certainly wouldn’t dare walk in there. However, what if it appears to be a regular restaurant in a place we’re not completely familiar with and it’s not busy so we decide to pop in an eat only to be joined with a furry creature after we’ve ordered or as we’re eating our meal? Maybe NO dogs happen to be present while we’re eating yet my kid has an allergic reaction from dog dander being in his food later?

I would HOPE that any dog friendly restaurant would make it absolutely OBVIOUS to those of us with dog / cat allergies that they welcome furry 4 legged friends so we can avoid them at all cost. I’d be livid if I found out in the middle or after a meal…

I’ve heard great things about the food at R Thomas…disgusting about the bird. We’ve had birds and we love them but they poop everywhere…I don’t want it near my food either. Blech.


April 1st, 2010
3:20 am

When I first moved in with my husband, he used to think his very large dog was adorable when he’d put his head on a person’s lap at the dinner table and looked up at your with puppy dog eyes wanting scraps from the table while you are eating OR sniffing the food on your plate at his (our dog who has passed on) eye level. It may have been cute to my husband and as much as I loved his dog too, it would drive me up the wall and grossed out our dinner guests. This wasn’t our dog’s fault of course, it was my husband’s for not teaching his dog better but then you have this adult dog who has been doing this all his life and thinks it’s OK and an owner who thinks it’s cute and funny. So no, not all dog owners know how to teach their dog to be respectful of a person’s plate of food. I grew up with dogs all my life and our dogs were allowed to be in the dining room as long as they were calm and didn’t beg for food. If they did, they had to leave the dining area / kitchen…my husband’s dog did nothing of the sort and didn’t know any different…he’d take food off our plates if we weren’t looking and my husband thought it was funny.

Atlanta Native

April 1st, 2010
8:14 am

Dogs on the deck, fine. In a pub, fine. In an restaurant, no.

PS. With a dog I can draw an invisible line around the house and know the dog cannot go above it, meaning surfaces, plates, utensils, fruit on counters, etc. cannot be touched by the dog. The cat in the house is way gross. Cats crawl all over and sit their behinds on the kitchen counter, and other surfaces. Yuck! No cat owner has a clean kitchen, regardless of how OC they may be about cleaning.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Dine & Cook. Dine & Cook said: Should dogs be allowed in restaurants in the US? They're popular guests in France, Greece Russia, etc. #food [...]


April 1st, 2010
11:15 am

Indoors? Absolutely not. On a patio? Sure – but please make sure your dog is well behaved before you bring him into that situation.

A, Coggins

April 1st, 2010
11:15 am

I have a dog Ilove him to death but, not in restaurant than is not clean,hair could get the air are on the chairs,tables not cool.

Lady "A"

April 1st, 2010
11:20 am

NO, no and Hell no. I am glad you made this a topic. I love dogs but it would totally gross me out if I looked over and saw someone letting their dog eat out of their plate. Pe-Yeeeeew!


April 1st, 2010
11:30 am

To all the people worried about how “unclean” dogs are: Can you please explain the mechanics of how a dog lying on a patio 10 feet from your table is going to somehow contaminate you or your food? Do dangerous germs leap up off the dog and fly through the air? Is this process somehow exclusive to dogs, so that only the dog germs will get you, but not all the ones on the people sitting around you or serving your food?

What happens if a dog strolls by on the public sidewalk right near your table? Do you get up and leave? After all, those flying dog germs could easily jump the patio fence.

Are the 60+ million French citizens, and all the tourists who visit France, miraculously immune to dog germs while you are not? They must be, since they don’t get sick.

What absolute silliness.


April 1st, 2010
12:12 pm

Totally agree with Lady “A”. Gross

Mar -Atl Foodie

April 1st, 2010
12:23 pm

Dogs don’t belong in a restaurant with their slobbering, shedding and panting. People do trip on them and their leashes. I have seen dog owners spend so much time hushing them or keeping them apart from other rival dogs that it doesn’t make for a good place to eat. I go to adult friendly places to eat, not ones that want to attract dogs or kids.

Good Doggie

April 1st, 2010
12:26 pm

I love taking Fido for a walk up Peachtree Street and stopping in one of the casual restaurants with an al fresco dining area. There is nothing finer than enjoying a meal and sipping a glass of wine or cup of coffee on the restaurant patio, and people-watching on a beautfiul Sunday afternoon with a faithful companion.

Now, Fido is a suma cum laude graduate of Canine College and behaves far better than the wild children and some of the adults. He quietly relaxes and keeps an eye on the Peachtree Street “curiosities” while teathered to the patio railing.

If your dog isn’t extremely well trained and docile, don’t even think of imposing it on restaurant guest and staff.

I agree, though, dogs don’t belong inside the restaurants.

The restaurant should maintain total control over who stays and who gets the boot…. no “ifs, ands, or buts”….. whether the offenders are two or four legged.

Good Doggie Pt. 2

April 1st, 2010
12:28 pm

PS / Please don’t feed your dog in at a restaurant, even on the patio……


April 1st, 2010
12:33 pm

Matt said it all for me in his 12:39 post yesterday. Good post dude.

no no no

April 1st, 2010
12:38 pm

What next bring your horse, cow. It is your pet and everyone does not want to see shell or watch you and your dog eat and kiss and God know whatelse. These are animals dont abuse them but stop trying to humanize them. What a joke.


April 1st, 2010
12:40 pm

I think the Health Department has already said no to this one, so this in a moot point.

Dog Lover

April 1st, 2010
12:41 pm

Why are you people such animal haters? The restaurants should be able to decide if they allow dogs are not and if they do… don’t eat at it if you are disgusted by dogs. Atlanta has a huge population of families with pets so get with the times people.


April 1st, 2010
12:45 pm

Personally, I do not care for your animal indoors or out when I am dining, but I agree that the market should determine whether livestock should be allowed in restaurants. While I also do not care for unruly children in public places either, the comparison of dogs to children is ridiculous. Your mutt is not a human; if you do not understand that, you have bigger issues.

I don’t hate dogs, I just hate your dog.

The Dog Catcher


April 1st, 2010
12:46 pm

Can think of no example other than a service dog where I would dine with dogs, even my own if I had one. Also, it’s surprising how many shops, especially antique shops, that have cats (yes that’s plural) with their sheddings around the shop. My husband is VERY allergic so I have to shop alone. Of course, sometimes, that’s not so bad. …


April 1st, 2010
12:51 pm

Why is it that pet owners tend to believe THEIR pet is always the exception to the rule? Dogs belong on the outside of a restaurant. Anyone who believes a dog should be in a restaurant doesn’t quite grasp the concept of “RESTAURANT.” It’s a place where people eat, not for need to buy a clue dog owners. Stop clouding the issue. Restaurants are for people and dogs should never…EVER be compared to children, babies, or any human beings…they’re DOGS…geesh!


April 1st, 2010
12:51 pm

I saw a guy in a restaurant sit his diapered baby on a table the other night – and my dog sitting under the table would be illegal?!?!? Since there’s no accounting for common sense or lack thereof any more it’s probably not a good idea to allow dogs in restaurants; however, in an outdoor coffe shop or casual dining patio situation, I’d love to take my dog and enjoy a sunny afternoon with my companion. She is though a graduate of strict obedience training and behaves better than most children I know.

Todd - Dacula

April 1st, 2010
1:04 pm

Heck NO! I’d rather see a dog in Mike Vicks care than in an establishment where I dine; even if its a patio. he only acceptable place for me is a walk up vendor.

It's Simple!

April 1st, 2010
1:05 pm



April 1st, 2010
1:06 pm

No dogs in restaurants unless they’re hot dogs or seeing-eye dogs!!


April 1st, 2010
1:06 pm

Dogs- like children- who are well mannered should be allowed to go places with their owners. I know my dog is much better behaved in public than the mass majority of people’s children. If the dog sits quitely at your feet. People bring children who scream, throw food, cry, run in circles, bump in to people… seriously?!? FIND A BABYSITTER! Can you really even make that argument?
I bring my dog everywhere i can- she makes people happy.