Following Covid, many of us find ourselves with more flexible working patterns and able to spend more time at home. Therefore it has become possible for those who have dreamed of having a dog to turn that dream into a reality.
Dog ownership in the UK is still increasing and as a result, we will discover more and more places becoming dog friendly. We are lucky to live in London which is extremely dog friendly but we are noticing more areas of the UK are catching up and cashing in on this lucrative sector.
Archie first dined out with us when he was only a few months old and in the last 11 years has joined us at hundreds of restaurants, pubs and cafes all over the UK and even France. Nacho is only 14 weeks old and has already dined out 5 times and been to a drive-in cinema.
We want this upward trend of dog friendliness to continue but it only takes a few badly behaved dogs to make a place change its policy and it only takes a few bad experiences to put your dog off ever wanting to dine out again.
This is not an exhaustive guide but gives you some key areas to focus on when taking your dog to restaurants and pubs. If you get these things right, you and your dog will enjoy many years of dining out together. Just like us!
Yappy Hour not Happy Hour
Before you decide to take your dog out to dine or drink with you, do your research about the place if you don't already know it.
A Saturday night in a busy pub is probably not the best environment for a dog! Dogs do not enjoy loud music and lots of noisy people. If your dog isn't great with children then Sunday lunch is another time to avoid. These busier times are also when your pooch is more likely to get stepped on and trust me a stomped on tail is not easily forgotten!
Ask the place when their quieter times are or check our Dogs Come Too section to read our reviews as this is one of the things we look out for. It is also worth mentioning when you book that you will be bringing a dog (or 2)!
We can't think of a better way to end a walk than with a visit to one of our favourite pubs. Not only does it give us humans a chance to work up a good hunger but it also means your pooch has got rid of some of their energy and is more likely to settle down while you enjoy your meal.
The younger or more energetic your pooch is, the more important it is to tire them out a little before introducing them to more stimulus. Nacho has slept through most of his pub visits because we gave him a decent walk first, otherwise he would have been trying to play with every doggie and human who passed by our table!
At the very least, you should make sure your pooch has done all their toilet business before you go in a dog friendly place as pooping where people are eating is understandably frowned upon!
You're Gonna Need a Bigger Bag!
When taking your dog out for dinner you can leave that clutch bag behind, you're more likely to need a rucksack, especially of you have more than 1 dog.
Some essentials you should take with you are; poo bags, water, a bowl or bottle to drink it from and treats. You may also want to take a toy for distraction (but maybe not a noisy one) and a blanket to sit on as some pub floors can be hard and uncomfortable. A blanket is essential if you want your dog to sit on any seats with you. The staff have enough to do without having to clean dog hair from their velvet banquette!
If the weather is bad, please also take a towel to wipe those muddy paws before you go inside a nice dog friendly place.
A Waggycaddy comes with all these essentials and much more, all in a stylish carry bag that won't look out of place in even the poshest restaurant.
When it comes to treats, Edgard & Cooper Busy Day Bars are great if you find yourself out unexpectedly during doggie's dinner time as they are a whole meal in a pocket-sized bar.
See Archie's Offers for discounts on both.
Is this Seat Taken?
Once inside the pub or restaurant find the best place for pooch to sit where he causes the least inconvenience and is most protected from being stepped on, tripped over or have things spilled on him. If you want your dog to sit on the furniture, please check that the staff are ok with that first and use a blanket or your own coat to protect the seat.
Most places will want your dog to be on a lead and secured so he is not found wandering around or, like Archie, making his way to the kitchen! We use a Hiro + Wolf cafe lead which easily hooks around your chair or table leg without having to unhook from the collar first.
Get your dog settled and use your distraction toys or treats as mentioned earlier before you turn your attention to the matter of dining as you may need to leave early if it's just not working for your pup. If you are meeting friends, try not to get too excited when they arrive as your dog will inevitably want to join in.
If your dog is reactive to other dogs, be vigilant for any about to pass your table and have a distraction ready. Same goes for toddlers running past or pushchairs, anything that could spark a reaction from your dog and make him or the subject of the reaction uncomfortable. It's hard to comprehend I know, but some people don't like dogs and are even scared of them so just be mindful of that.
Make sure your dog has access to water throughout your stay and be ready to take him out for a toilet break if you are there for more than a couple of hours or if he shows signs of needing to go at any point. It can be easy to forget and not realise the time when you are out having fun with friends and alcohol is involved!
When you are leaving, and arriving for that matter, you will be walking close to other diners, so keep your dog on a tight lead so he doesn't bother any other settled dogs or jump up to try and steal food from a table.
It seems a lot to think about but after a while this will all be second nature when taking your pooch out with you and you will be able to relax and enjoy dining out together.
A trip to the pub is a social event for you and your dog, giving them mental stimulation and socialisation skills.
As long as you follow the basic guidance, and NEVER put your dog in a stressful situation, you and your pooch will have many fun times together for years to come.