On this Valentine's Day, you were few to be surprised seing us at the restaurant with Raymond on our Insta stories. Indeed, R accompanies us everywhere and this includes the restaurant. He doesn't have a Trip Advisor account like us, but he could have written a lots of reviews.
As many of you have asked us for advice, we thought we would share our experience with the curious ones. We have included a list of tips, which I hope will help you.
8 tips to apply!
First of all, we are very lucky to be able to bring him everywhere. Raymond has a good temper for sure, but if he is so easy going with us, it is mainly because we have shape him since day one. Here are 8 tips to help you to spend a good moment at the restaurant with your pooch.
Tip no. 1 : Bring him to the restaurant from his early age
This is undeniably what contributed the most to going easily to the restaurant with him, we familiarized him with this environment from his first day. Indeed, the day we went to pick him up, the three of us did our first restaurant. We had driven 3 hours in the morning to arrive at Lanildut at 12 p.m. to collect him up, and when we left the breeder it was almost 2 p.m. So we looked for an opened restaurant to eat on the go with him. Inevitably, he was very small so he said nothing, still surprised to change his environment and discover us.
The younger they are, the easier it is to get them used to being good in such circumstances. Multiplying the restaurants during his first weeks allowed him to get used to noise, people, seeing us eating and being quiet on demande.
Tip no. 2 : Exercice him and let him do its business
Undoubtedly essential before going to the restaurant, it is to walk your little one. The walk allows him to exert himself, but also to do his needs. Two important needs to fill if we want him to be wise in the restaurant. No need to hike 10km, but prefer a walk to get to the restaurant, or walk a few blocks around. This walk will allow your dog not to feel frustrated once at the restaurant, and will put all the chances on your side so that it goes well.
Tip no.3 : Calm him 5 to 10 minutes before entering the restaurant
You must know ON/OFF mode is not instantaneous for every dogs, and especially for puppies. Therefore, it is essential to calm him down gradually before entering the restaurant.
On our side, we generally put Raymond in his bag 5-10 min before entering the restaurant. We do the last few meters carrying him in the bag. First, it soothes him, and second, it is a discreter and more respectullfy way to enter the restaurant.
Tip no.4 : Use a bag Once Raymond is in his bag, he knows he cannot go out and have to stay quiet, just like his basket at home or in the car. He must equates the bag with a moment of calm. Of course, some times it took him more than usual to calm, but as time goes by the time to calm himself is reducing.
I also recommend a bag, rather than having it on your knees. Knees are not practical, neither for you nor for him. You can't bend or unbend the legs, and you may get annoyed by reprimanding him when he wants to put his head on the table. For him, being on your knees is less stable, as you are gonna move a minimum. He is also closer to the table and will be tempted to stick his head there to see what is going on, and this can be a source of frustration for him if there is food. If your dog is too big for a bag, having a foldable mat can be a good way to delimit its space at your feet.
Tip no.5 : Put him up
A trick that makes all the difference for us is to put him high up and not too close to the table. As soon as possible we place our bag (where her is) on a chair at our height. On the one hand, it reassures us because he can't get out of his chair (no need to watch out the ground every 5 min), and on the other hand it reassures him since he sees us and can better observe his environment. If he is on the ground, it is best to attach him with his leash to your chair to prevent a possible escape. Both way, he always had his collar with our phone number as a precaution. Just because he's never gotten away doesn't mean he won't.
Putting him to a small distance from the table is better, as he won't be tempted to watch and be attracted by the food.
Tip no.6 : Make diversion If he has trouble calming down or if he doesn't want to rest right away, we always put 2 or 3 toys with him to occupy him. Slip him several toys in his bag or carpet, so he has choice, and potentially some treats in a Kong-type toy for the greediest. On our side, we always try to mix toys (a stuffed animal, a chewing bone and a Kong), and we avoid those too noisy to disturb the people around us. We also always slip his plaid into the bottom of the bag to make him more comfortable.
Tip no.7 : Take care of his needs It is necessary to meet his needs so that he has a good time too. First, you have to respect his meal times. If it's a dinner, we always make him eat before us, so he's satiated and will be less tempted to scrutinize our plate. If we're out all day and won't come back home, we plan our food in a small tupperware to give him before the restaurant. In general, we do it in a quiet place, in the car or in a bar. During the restaurant, it is necessary to remain attentive to his needs so that he does not become agitated. We always have a collapsible bowl with us (in the pocket of his bag), which we fill with water as soon as the jug of water arrives. I advise you not to leave it in his bag, because it may fall over. Better to put it on the table and give it to him from time to time so that he stays well hydrated.
Tip no.8 : Do not give in to whims
Extremely important, NEVER give him food during the restaurant. First, it's not respectful for the establishment, and second, it's the best way to turn him crazy. It's important not to give in, nor to make it a habit. Otherwise, your dog will ask for it at every restaurant, and may even have an aggressive reaction.
The leftovers to give at the end of the meal, you forget! Better to ask for a doggy bag, and give it later, either as a treat (I'm thinking of cheese crusts) or for a meal in his bowl (if we haven't managed to finish the chicken for example). It's important to teach him that there is a time for everything. A time to play, a time to be calm, and another to eat.
Quite a list at first glance, you might say! But in the end it happens naturally. We don't overthink about it anymore, everything is done mechanically.
What does the law tell us?
You should know restaurants are not required to mention on their storefront if they prohibit dogs (unlike food businesses). Authorizing or prohibiting animals is left to the discretion of the establishment. If in doubt, do not hesitate to refer to the website, or Tripadvisor, Michelin (and others) page to find out if the establishment accept dogs. If you can't find the information, you can always call them by phone or ask the question by email (especially if you are abroad and not very comfortable with foreign languages).
Have we ever had bad experiences?
Well no, on the contrary! If people on the streets can be unpleasant, in restaurants we always had understanding people, whether in France or abroad. We almost always get compliments ("he's so cute" or "he's quiet"), and the waiters systematically offer to bring him water.
To be fully transparent, we never ask to come with our dog beforehand. Either way, Raymond stays in his bag the whole time, and never gets in the way, so we don't see why we'd have to ask. That said, if we had a big dog we would obviously ask for permission. Or if he wasn't good, we wouldn't take him with us. As soon as the dog is sociable, discreet (no barking, nor jump), clean, it is okay to go to the restaurant with your dog. Raymond being very small and staying in his bag also help in experiencing a good moment at the restaurant. We have never had an unpleasant remark or prohibition. We always enter the restaurant discreetly with a calm dog in the bag that does not move. To be honest, in the vast majority of cases, the waiters realize there is a dog when serving dishes.
I hope this article will help you. Share your experiences in comments. And if you have any other tips, we're all ears.
>> See our Article "Raymond's 14 essentials for puppy"