Should You Bring Your Dog to a Dog-Friendly Establishment?

So you have read about a dog-friendly Seattle restaurant and you want to go with your dog, but you’re not sure it’s such a good idea. You have only brought your dog to Norm’s once or twice, where there’s guaranteed to be a dog worse-behaved than yours. How do you know if you should bring your dog to a dog-friendly establishment?

I recommend following a few of basic guidelines to make this decision.

You are committed to being responsible for your dog. You are likely going to be holding a leash all night. If you would rather be playing pool, slamming back drinks, or dancing, don’t bring your dog. You will just end up feeling frustrated, and it’s not fair to ask other people to hold the leash or “just watch him for a second”.

Your dog is healthy. Your dog should be up to date on all vaccines and in good health. If he isn’t feeling well, he doesn’t want to be out and about anyway. Plus, you don’t want to be in a situation where you have to clean up an embarrassing mess in public. Which reminds me, your dog should also be potty-trained!

Your dog is balanced. What the heck does that mean? Your dog has been well socialized and is respectful of people and dogs. No humping, no jumping. You know an unbalanced dog when you see one… if your pup is “that dog” at the dog park, he’s not ready for a restaurant yet.

You know your dog. You are aware of how he is going to react in a given situation and are able to respond accordingly. My dog Bondi doesn’t appreciate being humped or other dominant posturing, so in situations where other dogs are acting “puffy” I have to be ready to redirect him. This is especially important in places like Norm’s where there are bound to be dozens of dogs that do not meet the “balanced” criteria above.

All of this is fairly straightforward, but for those who are more visual learners, I have created this helpful flow chart to help you decide if you should bring your dog to a dog-friendly establishment:

These guidelines are not always black and white. My dog Homie falls into the “Yes, Except ___” category in terms of his comfort level with people: he is nervous around men he doesn’t know. However, his behavioral response is to ignore unfamiliar men, not to growl. He is not a nuisance or a threat, so I give him a pass.

Take-Home Message: It’s all about using your best judgement. I’m not saying your dog had to graduate top of obedience school. Just ask yourself, will my dog (and I) be a nuisance or threat in any way to other people or dogs? If the answer is no, you’re good to go!

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