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America loves its pets, with close to 90 million dogs in the country and 500,000 living in New York alone. Pets are part of the family, often traveling with their owners whether for a walk in the park or a longer vacation. One of the biggest challenges that pet parents face while on the road is deciding where to eat. Simply leaving your furry friend in the car is not an option because it is dangerous for them. On the other hand, taking your pooch to a restaurant can also be stressful because they might act out. The good news is you can help make your four-legged friend the perfect dining companion.

Before Going Out to Eat

If your furry animal reacts strongly to stimuli in public spaces such as barking or going wild when another dog walks by, taking them into a restaurant might be the last thing on your mind. Teaching them to pay attention to you is one of the tricks you’ll need on hand, so that they don’t misbehave in public. Training your pet to turn and look away from another dog is a good reinforcement. Wait for your dog to look away and validate the behavior with food. In other situations, another easy way out is to leave the premises before your pet responds to trouble. It is vital that you have a plan to get up quickly and retreat without creating panic for you and your dog.

Choosing Where to Go

In New York, it is forbidden to bring dogs inside of most restaurants, but some dining places allow them when there are outdoor tables. Before heading out, you might have to do some homework first as to where you can take your beloved pooch. New York lists over 500 places where you can go with your dog, but not all of them might be suitable for your pet.

Check if the restaurant is truly welcoming. A pet-friendly restaurant will thoughtfully configure outdoor dining arrangements. Apart from providing sturdy and relaxing furniture, it might even put up partitions or potted plants for privacy so that your pooch is not in view of other dogs and can lie down comfortably without being disturbed. Water bowls are also typically offered at places with outdoor dog dining.

Timing Your Outing

Another way to ensure that your stay at a restaurant is fuss-free is to go when it is the least crowded. If having lunch early at 11 a.m. is the best opportunity to have the place all to yourself, then go for it. Your dog will be happy to dine with you in a relaxed restaurant where he can just stay at your side without a lot of distractions.

While you’re eating, you can also feed Fido. Pack a baggie with dog food that will keep your pooch busy and happy, minimizing the chances of getting bored or distracted and getting into trouble. Don’t forget to bring along some special treats so that you can reward your dog for not reacting to something that would normally set them off.

Dining out with your pooch can, indeed, be complicated. However, if you prepare for it, there’s no reason why your dog cannot go to restaurants with you. By training your companion, choosing a pet-friendly restaurant, and timing your visit, a day out with your furry friend is nearly guaranteed to be a success.

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