Features

Petiquette: dining with dogs

For years, dogs were welcomed only in traditional country pubs. But attitudes have relaxed and today it’s not unusual for even the most upmarket restaurants to have an area set aside for canine companions.

With an estimated 8.5 million pet dogs in the UK living in a quarter of all households, we are truly a nation of dog-lovers. Whether cross-breed or pure, rescue or royalty, dogs carve out unique places in our homes, hearts and lives, and adapt accordingly.

Traditional country pubs serving farmers and walkers have long welcomed four-legged companions. And as dog ownership becomes as popular in urban hot spots as rural shires, more public spaces now extend invitations to dogs.

From squeezing an extra walk into a busy day to an easy conversation starter if you’re dining alone; there are many reasons to take your dog out with you for a meal. Not to mention the joy and comfort your hound’s company brings to you.

The Wheatsheaf, Combe Hay

 

It remains a common misconception that dogs are not legally allowed in places where food is served. In fact, as long as the restaurateur ensures that there is no opportunity for contamination and that all food prep and handling areas meet specified hygiene standards, it is entirely their choice to welcome dogs in part or all of their premises.

But it’s vital for dogs and their owners to observe a certain petiquette when dining out. Being considerate to the needs of other diners is key – remember that no one wants an uninvited dog in their personal space, no matter how friendly or good natured your dog may be. Politely checking that nearby diners are not frightened or allergic helps everyone get seated comfortably.

Orwells, Shiplake

The annual Be Dog Friendly awards (bedogfriendlyawards.com) aim to promote the social and commercial benefits for wider access and help both dog and business owners to create enjoyable experiences and spaces for all to enjoy.

Dining out with your dog is certainly a pleasure that encourages more frequent restaurant visits. As Roger Caras, the American wildlife broadcaster observed, ‘Dogs may not be our whole life but they do help make our lives whole.’

 

Dos and don’ts for dining dogs

Do:

  • Check you’re welcome in advance and reserve any designated space
  • Remain on the lead at your own table
  • Be polite. Treat all two and four-legged encounters with respect (ensure your humans do the same!)
  • Check out some of our dog-friendly restaurants in the list below

Don’t:

  • Climb onto the furniture – even if allowed at home
  • Beg or busk – others don’t want your nose or noise
  • Assume entry is an entitlement – it is a privilege earned through good behaviour