5.31.2019

Dining with Dogs in Restaurants: What Pet Owners Need to Know

The "dog days of summer" are upon us, literally.  That long-time expression has a couple of meanings, but one thing for sure, this is the time of year that we tend to take our pets more to public places simply because of outdoor dining.

A Guide to Dining with Pets
Photo by Curious Notions Photography



STATE PUBLIC HEALTH LAWS VARY IN EACH STATE

Public Health Laws regarding animals vary from state to state. Just because a restaurant has an outdoor patio does not automatically mean that your pet can dine with you. Service dogs abide by different laws than normal pets. In my home state of North Carolina, only service dogs can dine inside a restaurant with its owner. Normal dogs who are considered like my Andy need to dine on an outdoor patio instead of inside the restaurant.

NOT ALL BREWERIES AND TASTING ROOMS ALLOW DOGS INSIDE

If a restaurant uses glassware and utensils then state health laws put breweries in a restaurant category for public health inspection. If a brewery does not serve food or serves food packaged in individual containers then it may be at the discretion of the brewery or individual city laws on the dog issue.

Dining with Dogs in Outdoor Areas in Restaurants or Breweries


For the past couple of years in North Carolina, it's been confusing to pet owners because breweries started as one of the most-dog-friendly places around. It's great to have a cold one with your best friend around. The North Carolina General Assembly is working on a bill that allows individual breweries to decide if pets can be allowed inside because beverages would no longer be classified with food under state health inspections. Wine tasting rooms already have that freedom. For now, it's a safe bet to keep your dog outside unless you see other dogs inside, too.

SERVICE DOGS ARE ALLOWED EVERYWHERE

There are lots of public debates lately about what qualifies as a working service dog in 2019. There are a lot of dogs licensed now for therapeutic reasons. In the past, service dogs primarily helped people with physical disabilities such as blindness or someone in a wheelchair.  But regardless, of its primary working role, service dogs are like people and can go anywhere, but there are rules and regulations for service dogs, too. Regular pets, on the other hand, are more limited on where they can go.

Dogs at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC


We ran into this issue at Biltmore Estate in Asheville. We were going to ride the bus to the house from the parking lot where we parked our car. As we got ready to board the bus, the driver informed us that dogs were not allowed. The people chanted, "Let the dog ride. Let the dog ride." I mean he is really cute and all, but it was against the rules. We then asked the driver how we could park closer to the house and he easily gave us directions. It was a minor inconvenience, but as new pet travelers, we just were not aware of the limitations. Biltmore Estate does have a kennel nearby that parking lot though to kennel your dog. It is first serve-first come. I personally chose not to do that Andy.

CALL TO SEE IF AN OUTDOOR PATIO ALLOWS PETS BEFORE MAKING THE TRIP

When we first adopted Andy, I could not wait to take him out to eat. It's like, "Oh, I have a dog now. Let's go eat out." Why? I have no idea. I will tell you that it is like taking a toddler to a restaurant. He's good, but it is still a lot of work so I primarily do it when traveling now that I've been a pet owner for awhile now.

Cantina 18 is a pet-friendly restaurant in Raleigh, NC


Our first official dining experience was at a Southwest-inspired with Southern roots restaurant here in Raleigh called Cantina 18 in Cameron Village. It's a favorite lunch spot of mine. Chef Jason Smith uses fresh seasonal ingredients, and I've never been disappointed in all my meals there.


Burrito at Cantina 18 in Cameron Village


I've eaten there more times now than I have fingers. Cantina 18, now with two locations, has a good kid's menu for families. Jason is a parent himself so I believe when chefs have their own children, they really grasp that parents want to dine on great-tasting seasonal fresh food, but be able to supply the simple basics for their children that do not cost them $10 to $15 each child.

Cantina 18 was the first restaurant we dined in with our pet, Andy.


I have only one child that dines off a kid's menu now. Liza loves the chicken nachos at Cantina 18, but she leaves off the chicken every single time and adds a big strawberry sorbet at the end of the meal.

Strawberry Sorbet at Cantina 18


I called the restaurant ahead to make sure their outdoor dining area was pet-friendly. 

Cameron Village is great for dog owners. Most of the patio areas are public sidewalks so it's a natural fit for dogs to dine with their owners outside.

Cantina 18 went the extra mile for Andy. Even though I had brought him water because I had no idea what to expect, the wait staff at Cantina 18 brought him a water bowl when they brought out water for us.

As a first-time dog owner dining with a pet for the first time, I thought that was a really nice perk. 

Now that I've dined a few times impromptu with Andy, I learned that not all restaurants may go out of their way like Cantina 18 did for us, but I've found that overall, most restaurants that allow dogs are very welcoming.

Dogs can dine at Cowfish on the patio at North HIlls


Andy has also been to North Hills in Raleigh which is another outdoor shopping and entertainment area in the area.  He felt welcomed at Cowfish, a local sushi and burger restaurant with locations here and in Charlotte. My biggest gripe is that Andy wants to look at everyone and will not sit down. I've decided that it is easier to keep it at home so I can relax. He is like a third child, although the best one I might add.


DINING WITH DOGS AT A COUNTER-SERVICE RESTAURANT MAY BE MORE CHALLENGING 

What I've learned through trial and error is that it is more challenging to dine at counter-service restaurants with a dog if you are alone or have very young children who cannot be left alone with the dog outside while you go inside to do what you need. 

Even though I have an eight-pound dog that I can carry around like a baby, it is against the law for me to take him inside a restaurant and order food. Someone needs to stay with the dog outside while you order food or request a patio table with the hostess. One may be able to put a dog in a dog purse briefly to do this, but if you have a big dog then it does make it more challenging to abide by the public health laws to order even if you plan to dine outside.

HOTELS THAT ALLOW PETS SHOULD HAVE A LIST OF DOG-FRIENDLY RESTAURANTS

There are so many cities in the U.S that are pet-friendly. Raleigh is a pet-friendly city, but Asheville, North Carolina is touted as the most pet-friendly city in the U.S. It has its own doggy-welcome center, a first in the U.S. 

It was not open when we took Andy to Asheville with us last year so I look forward to going this year summer just for doggone curiosity.  But, what's great about this center is that it will give you a guide to pet-friendly attractions and restaurants.

Andy the Poodle at the DoubleTree Biltmore in Asheville, NC


Andy took his dog bed to the Doubletree Biltmore in Biltmore Village in Asheville when we visited last summer.  The staff was excellent with us as first-time pet-travelers. too. Andy was allowed to be in the lobby and the front desk gave us a list of nearby pet-friendly restaurants, which was very nice for that first night we checked-in.

NOT ALL OUTDOOR PATIOS HAVE EXTERIOR ENTRANCES WHICH MEANS "NO DOGS ALLOWED"

The Biltmore DoubleTree Hotel has a TGIF restaurant attached to it with a beautiful patio, but dogs are not allowed to dine there because there is not an exterior entrance to the patio. You have to walk through the restaurant to get to the patio. Keep that tidbit in mind when you spot restaurants. A good rule of thumb is that if you see other dogs then you are fine.  

However, if you are the first one to arrive at a restaurant or brewery with a dog in tow then you may want to ask to make sure dogs are allowed.

TRAVELING WITH PETS 

When you are traveling with your dog and staying in a hotel, information about area restaurants are so important and honestly, it does take some planning. Heaven forbid if it rains. What then? Some dogs may bark in a hotel room when crated and then you run the risk of getting called by the hotel with a noise complaint.

Dogs are part of the family


I feared the "barking dog" when I traveled with Andy for the first time in Asheville. As a result, we ate in restaurants where we knew Andy could go easily. Some Asheville establishments even have a doggie menu.

During my time in Asheville, NC,  I sometimes felt as if there are more dogs walking the sidewalks than people. It truly is a dog-friendly city. Raleigh is dog-friendly, too, but it can also be really hot during the "dog days of summer", too.

Do you have a favorite place that you dine with your dog? Continue the conversation on social media on Facebook or Instagram?

A NOTE ABOUT SAFETY WHEN DINING WITH YOUR PET

Pedestrian safety is important. Be mindful at crosswalks with your pets, watch for cars, keep your dogs on a leash at all times. Make sure you have your dog's shots records and that your dog is wearing identification and rabies tag at all times.

Always have water available for your pet, and always be diligent about your safety and other's safety if your dog has been known to bite. When traveling in a car, make sure your dog is safely secured in the vehicle.

DISCLOSURE: My thanks to the Law Office of Hardison and Cochran in North Carolina for being a May HinesSightBlog sponsor. My sponsors enable me to keep writing, travel #outaboutnc and stalk a few houses. Be sure to stay tuned for my new YouTube show, The House Stalkers


Dining with Pets in Restaurants: What Pet Owners Need to Know. #pets #dogs #pettravel


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