If you work during the day and own a dog, you’re probably used to coming home in the afternoon or evening and being greeted by your canine companion. After hours apart, dogs tend to be genuinely happy and relieved to see their owners, and they’re not afraid to show it! It’s not uncommon, then, for people to feel guilty about turning around and going back out to dinner on nights when they don’t feel like cooking. Your dog doesn’t want you to leave, you don’t want to leave your dog, but something’s gotta give if you’re going to get a nice dinner that night!
The solution, of course, is to spend the evening at a dog-friendly restaurant. These days, more and more places are offering outdoor seating for guests of the two-legged and four-legged variety, and they won’t bat an eye if you bring along a furry friend as your dining companion. Eating at a restaurant can be fun for you, your dog, and any dog-lovers that you encounter during your meal, so it can truly be a great option for overworked pet parents. However, it’s not something to dive right into without thinking. Here are some ideas to keep in mind before you plan a night on the town for you and Fido:
Know the restaurant’s policies.
First things first: please don’t assume that every restaurant that offers outdoor seating is dog-friendly! Though restaurants in the United States are legally required to allow service dogs in dining areas, not all places welcome pets. And while some eateries will be more than happy to seat both you and Ranger on the patio, other businesses won’t hesitate to give you both the boot for trying to bring a dog onto the premises. If you’ve never before eaten with your dog at a particular restaurant, then it’s a good idea to call ahead and ask whether or not the establishment is dog-friendly. You can save everyone a load of trouble and grief by being proactive!
It’s worth mentioning that most places that allow dogs only do so on the condition that the dog is kept on a leash or stays in some kind of carrier. Regardless of how obedient your pet is, keeping them restrained is always a good idea. That way, if your dog tries to bolt for one reason or another, you can avoid an embarrassing incident—or a tragedy.
Know your dog.
Not all dogs have the temperament for restaurant patio dining. So ask yourself a few questions: is Fluffy generally easy-going and well-behaved, or does she tend to get extremely excited and pull at her leash whenever something catches her eye? Is she friendly toward other dogs, or does the sight of another pooch typically put her on edge? Can she resist the allure of table scraps, or is she a shameless beggar? And can she remain calm around strangers (including children!), or does she just get agitated when faced with a human she doesn’t know?
When you’re eating on a patio, your dog will have all sorts of stimuli thrown at her—new sights, new smells, and new people. She might also not be the only dog hanging out there, too, especially if the restaurant prides itself on being dog-friendly. So please don’t put her in that situation if you think it’s going to be too much for her to handle. This doesn’t mean that Fluffy can never go out to dinner with you or your family! It just means that you may need to practice a bit or work on her manners at home before you’re ready to take this show on the road.
Know what your dog can and can’t have.
If you’re eating with your dog, then you might be tempted to order him a snack or a beverage—especially if he’s being extra good and you want to give him a reward. But be smart about it! Don’t give him anything that might make him ill; common dog-unfriendly Tex-Mex ingredients include onions, garlic, chocolate, and alcohol. Watch out for raisins and grapes, macadamia nuts, coffee, and foods sweetened with xylitol, too.
Your absolute best option will probably be to bring a small bag of your dog’s food and let her munch on that during your meal rather than feeding her “people food” from the table. Not only will this discourage her from begging, but it can also help ensure that she doesn’t actually ingest something harmful. If you feel that you must order her something, stick to animal-based proteins (chicken, pork, salmon, etc.) and brown rice in small amounts. Avocado is okay, as well, provided that it’s sliced and your dog has no access to a pit. And always have water available for your dog, especially when it’s hot outside. Bring a bowl (or bottle) from home to facilitate this—though some restaurants may not mind loaning you one if you ask for it.
Whether or not your dog would enjoy (or even be able to tolerate) eating at a restaurant is a question that only you can answer. So be honest about your dog’s abilities and temperament. If you think you’re going to spend the whole night trying to get Rex to lie down, be quiet, and/or stop bothering people, then dinner out might be a little too much for him to handle. On the other hand, if he has no problem keeping a cool head regardless of what’s going on around him, then it’ll probably be a positive experience for everyone involved.
Three Mattito’s locations have dog-friendly outdoor dining options; if you live near our Lewisville, Oak Lawn, or Forest Lane establishments, feel free to bring your pooch when you join us for a meal! Parting is such a sweet sorrow, and you shouldn’t have to part with your best friend / “fur baby” so soon after getting home for the day. So come on over and throw back a margarita and a water dish—dinner at Mattito’s can truly be an outing for the whole family!