Five Vital Rules When Visiting A Dog Friendly Bar

Enjoying quality time with your dog is something that every dog lover treasures. Unwinding by socializing with a favorite drink, and your best friend, is a treat that most Americans can’t relate to.  A dog friendly bar is a rarity, with less than 15 states allowing you the opportunity. Many dog friendly bars have appeared around the Minneapolis/St.Paul recently, which allows the up close opportunity to see why this isn’t allowed for every state.  The combination of joyful chatter of customers introducing their dogs, and the delicious drinks can make the atmosphere absolutely irresistible. What you may not envision is the many sudden and hidden problems that develop when human and dogs enjoy a drink in a public place.  After taking a closer look, the reason becomes clear why so many states refuse to change their own laws to allow dog-friendly bars.

There are some very important rules to follow  inside a dog friendly bar. Most are obvious, but unfortunately, some are not. Study the following list below closely to make sure you stay out of trouble, if you are allowed the privilege of bringing your dog to a dog friendly bar.  If you are in the majority of states that do not allow dogs in public bars, you will quickly see why.

1.  Understand the Employee’s Role

Don’t expect employees to watch your dog during a bathroom break. Even further, don’t expect any employee to touch your dog at all.  Employees are prohibited from touching or caring for your dog. If you need help watching your dog while you have to step away, make friends with those around you.  The key is to not assume that employees are animal lovers.

Your furry friend can make the tough job of serving much harder. When a crowd starts to gather along with a pack of dogs, the server’s night can get much worse. If you are able, pick your dog up when you feel a lot of server traffic around yourself.  If you are not able to pick your dog off the ground, you need to create distance from the problem.

A well-placed object (your chair/your purse/your leg) in front of your dog will help you avoid trouble. Even when seated, there are many near-miss collisions between server and dog. If you are able hold your dog close to your chest especially if you are close to the bartender.  The crowds waiting for drinks can get thick, and a dog pulling your arm leads to some uncomfortable contact with those around you.  If you are not able to hold your dog, try to keep your distance from busy areas at all times. Also, if you have trouble holding your dog and need a drink, ask a server and tip well.

2. Pay Attention to What Your Dog Touches

We all have different opinions as to how to raise our dogs, but your dog cannot touch anything involved with food service. The temptation to let your dog lick your plate, or give them a little of whatever your drinking, should be resisted at all times. You should also watch your dog’s behavior closely.  Sniffing (or licking) trays, cups, plates, or food service items, when your back is turned is a real possibility. If this could be a problem, situate yourself as far away from any used food service items and know your dogs limitations as far as their reach is concerned. Many items could be stored nearby in a spot that isn’t visible, or left behind by other customers.

3. Prepare Your Dog Before Arriving

What could surprise you is that when you enter a dog friendly bar the level of excitement with the dogs themselves is really high. There could be loud music, many dogs in close proximity, and lots of new smells. This leads to a hyperactive dog. A common complicating factor is an aggressive dog irritating your dog, while their owner is preoccupied. All of these previous factors combined can lead you to struggle to maintain control of your dog.  You have an obligation to keep your dog “on a leash, and under reasonable control” in legal vernacular, which can surprisingly hard.

The perfect solution is to tire your dog out before getting there. If you drive there, a good dog treadmill or dog treadwheel workout will do wonders before leaving your home.  If you walk there, walk your dog very briskly for about 30 minutes before entering the bar. If these two options aren’t possible, a great preventative measure when arriving is to play with your dog outside when you first get there. Then sit and enjoy yourself.  A little prevention by any of these methods will go a long way.

4.  Observe if Your Dog is Sitting or Standing

Many dog owners are surprised by the idea that their dog cannot stand on the table, chair or any other furnishing. There are so many different types of dog ownership preferences, it isn’t hard to understand that many dog owners would allow this type of behavior at home.  If you allow this in a public bar though you will receive a stern warning. When your dog is not being held, your dog has to stay on the floor. This might cause an issue especially when your food arrives. After placing any order stay focused on when your server returns.

Many dogs jump on the chair or table next to you at the worst possible moment, the time when you are distracted. Leaving your dog with someone else during a restroom break is another problem. Clearly tell whoever is helping you to keep your dog on the floor.  An idle server to watch your dog while you’re away may make sense to help you with your pup…but don’t try it.  See rule number 1 above. When it comes to restroom breaks for yourself,  as weird as it seems, take the dog to the restroom with you.

5. Dog Waste Should be Cleaned and Sanitized Immediately

At least this rule is pretty self explanatory. When you arrive, one of the first questions to ask is what you need to do if your dog has an accident in a high traffic area. Many have a kit set aside for this occasion. Most establishments have a grassy area they set aside for our furry friends, and try to use it more frequently than you do at home. If you arrive in bad weather, like rain or snow, it is especially critical to have your dog relieve themselves before entering.

If you pay attention to these five rules, your time should be really enjoyable. It is always nice to meet other dog owners, and allowing your dog to be more comfortable around other dogs pays off. Just remember how fortunate you are to be at a dog friendly bar near you, many other dog owners would love to have the chance.


Written by James Hunsberger, dachshund enthusiast and retail store owner.

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