Local and state health inspectors can -- and will -- fine restaurants for noncompliance with the health code. A geographic area's local laws may allow pets in outdoor dining areas, but it's ultimately the owner of the establishment who has the final say on whether pets are permitted on the premises.
Even if a given restaurant is not pet friendly, you may on occasion see a dog in the establishment, usually accompanied by certain customers (typically very good customers) of friends of the owner [source: Malby].
To keep obliging restaurants happy with their decisions to include pets, here are some etiquette rules you and your pet should follow when dining out:
- Keep your animal leashed at all times.
- No barking
- No begging
- No jumping
- No eating off the table
- No sitting on chairs, tables or benches
- Do not enter the inside of the restaurant.
- Current vaccination tags should be on pet's collar
- Bring your own food dish and water bowl. Health codes prohibit pets from eating and drinking from restaurant dishes and glasses.
- Get your pet to sit under or as close to the table base as possible to reduce the chances of your waiter tripping over your pet [source: Road and Travel Magazine, Colorado Restaurant Association].
Local ordinances will also determine how a restaurant handles pets. A St. Petersburg, Fla., ordinance requires that restaurants obtain a permit if they want to allow dogs to sit outside. A Florida "doggie dining law" requires restaurants to keep hand sanitizers on all tables where dogs are allowed [source: Konis].
Just how pet friendly an establishment is depends upon the owners. Some go out of their way to welcome pets by offering water and treats. Others have special events that are geared around pet owners, and even offer pet birthday parties.