Dog Cafe Culture: Tips For A Fun And Stress-Free Experience

If you love the idea of living the dog cafe life, make sure to check out the below tips. A little bit of planning can help you prepare for a successful dining experience with your pup.

mini dapple dachshund dog on chair at dog-friendly cafe in barcelona

This post may include affiliate links, from Amazon and other companies, where I earn from qualifying purchases. There is no extra cost to you to use these links for a purchase. And when you do, I earn a small commission that helps with building new sustainable content for this blog.

Enjoying the Dog Cafe Life

In Spain (and in many countries around the world), there is a strong dog cafe culture. I am fortunate to be currently living in Barcelona, where many people make it a habit to enjoy a cup of coffee, meal, or cerveza with their pup. 

However, speaking from personal experience, things can turn stressful pretty quickly if your dog is anxious or won’t stop barking. So to help with a stress-free and enjoyable outing for all involved (including other cafe guests), it’s important to set the right conditions. 

If you don’t have time to get into all the details right now, save the below pin for later.

title of tips for a successful dog dinner date experience with images of dogs at dog-friendly restaurants in barcelona

Barcelona has been a great place to observe how pet parents navigate their lives with their dog by their side, and I’m still continuously amazed at how many of the dogs here are so well-adapted to city life.

Outside of shops all over the city, there are water bowls and places to “park” your dog. It’s not uncommon to see a dog patiently waiting outside the grocery store (and often without a leash) while their human shops. 

pug dog mix drinking water outside of dog-friendly restaurant in barcelona
lease hook to leave dog outside of store in barcelona
two dogs waiting outside of store in barcelona

And you’re pretty much guaranteed to see at least one dog lying under a table in any cafe or restaurant that has outdoor seating. There are plenty of restaurants here that allow dogs inside as well. 

So, based on my experience living in a really dog-friendly city, here are some things to keep in mind if you’re interested in some public dining with your pup. 

Dog Cafe Culture Tips & Etiquette

Pet-Friendly Policies

Before heading out, do some research to find cafes or restaurants that welcome dogs. Check their policies regarding pets, including whether they allow dogs inside or only in outdoor seating areas.

Contact the establishment or visit their website and check the reviews to ensure you are aware of any specific guidelines or restrictions.

Additionally, you can check BringFrido, a popular site that lists dog-friendly restaurants worldwide.

no dogs allowed sign at restaurant in Barcelona
welcome dogs sign at dog-friendly store in bilbao
no dogs allowed sign at restaurant in barcelona

Essential Supplies

Pack a small bag with essential items for your dog, including a water bottle, a collapsible water bowl, sustainable poop bags, a favorite natural chew toy, some healthy training treats, and a blanket or mat for them to relax on.

Having these items readily available will help meet your dog’s needs and keep them comfortable. And it will help to avoid some unneeded stress on your part. My anxiety is already rising just thinking about the times I took one of my dogs out and forgot the poop bags… 

Plus, if your dog is even half as food-motivated as my three, a simple treat can go a long way in redirecting a situation that is about to go sideways.

Xtra Eco Tip: Take advantage of this experience, and try out some new, natural products as you create your dog cafe supply bag. Check out my recommendations for healthy, all-natural training treats and chew toys made from sustainable materials.

mini dapple dachshund dog standing next to essential dog cafe supplies
essential dog supplies for cafe outing

Leash & Harness

Keep your dog on a leash and use a secure harness during your cafe visit. This ensures that your pup remains under control and prevents any accidental incidents or unwanted interactions with other guests.

Opt for a leash that allows your dog to sit or lie down comfortably without causing a disturbance.

When Froda was a pup, I would often take her dog carrier so she could nap in a secure and familiar place.

mini dapple dachshund puppy in dog carrier

Behavior Basics

Make sure your dog is well-socialized and comfortable in various environments before bringing them to a cafe. They should be able to remain calm around people and other animals. 

Basic obedience commands like “sit”, “stay”, “leave it”, and my favorite, “touch” (a more useful alternative to “come”), will be beneficial in maintaining good behavior during your outing.

If your dog doesn’t have these down just yet, start here. Practice for a few minutes each day, set some goals, and make a visit to a calm cafe your collective reward.

mixed breed dog under table a dog-friendly restaurant in barcelona

Location, Location, Location

Consider your dog’s temperament and energy level. Some dogs may feel stressed or overwhelmed in bustling environments, while others may adapt more easily. If your dog tends to be anxious or excitable, choose a quieter cafe or a table that is in a corner versus in the center surrounded by other guests (and potentially dogs) on all sides.

Your first time visiting a cafe or restaurant with your pup? Don’t opt for a super popular, always packed location. Ease you and your pup into the dog cafe life by starting with a chill spot or picking an off-peak time of day to visit.

outside at dog-friendly cafe in barcelona
pug mix dog at outdoor dog-friendly cafe in barcelona

Situational Awareness

Be considerate of other cafe guests and their preferences. Not everyone may be comfortable around dogs and some may have allergies. Respect personal space and be mindful of any signs of discomfort from those around you.

Avoid allowing your dog to approach other tables or disturb other guests, and promptly clean up any accidents if they occur (don’t forget the poop bags!!).

Your Dog’s Well-Being

Observe your dog’s behavior and stress levels during the cafe visit. If they appear anxious, restless, or uncomfortable, it’s important to prioritize their well-being.

Consider finding a quieter environment or returning home if necessary. Your dog’s comfort should always be a priority.

mixed breed dog licking lips after drinking water at dog-friendly restaurant in barcelona

One Dog at a Time

Have more than one dog? I suggest NOT adhering to a “no dog left behind” policy. Seriously, leave a dog behind. Introduce each of your dogs to this new experience separately. Observe what goes well (or doesn’t) for each of them, and test out different locations and situations.

And then if and when everyone seems comfortable, you can try a bigger group outing. Or, you can also continue to stick to a single-dog-at-a-time dining experience like us.

Individually, Phoebe, Franklin, and Froda are all quite well-behaved and comfortable at cafes and restaurants. But when the three of them are together, it’s a whole different story. They become a bit bolder as a trio and are much more likely to bark at other dogs.

Join The Green Pet Project newsletter for practical pet-friendly, sustainability tips…no matter the season!

A Fun, Not Forced, Experience

Enjoying the dog cafe culture can be a wonderful experience that strengthens your bond and creates some unique memories. But, as I mentioned before, it has the potential to go sideways. If that happens, not all is necessarily lost. 

Take notice of the things that caused your dog stress or discomfort and decide whether these are things that can be reduced in some way. A different location, time of day, or even seating arrangement can change the dynamics of the situation for the better. 

Above all, though, the most important thing is to prioritize the comfort and well-being of your pup and not force a situation that just isn’t working. After all, the whole point is to find ways to integrate your pup into different parts of your life and ENJOY more time together.

mini dapple dachshund dog sleeping under table at dog-friendly restaurant in bilbao
dog sitting on patio of dog-friendly restaurant in barcelona
pug mix dog laying under table at dog-friendly cafe in barcelona

I’d love to hear about your public dog dining dates, for better or not so much! Your tips and first-hand experiences will help us all discover more ways to set up a dog cafe experience for success.

FAQs: Dog Cafe & Restaurant Tips

Are all restaurants and cafes pet-friendly?

No, not all establishments allow pets, so it’s essential to check their pet policy before visiting. Look for restaurants or cafes with outdoor seating areas, as these are more likely to welcome pets.

Some establishments may only allow dogs of a certain size or require pets to be leashed at all times.

How can I prepare my dog for a restaurant or cafe outing?

Before heading to a restaurant or cafe, ensure that your dog is well-behaved and comfortable around people and other dogs. Practice basic obedience commands such as “sit,” “stay,” and “leave it” to maintain control in busy environments.

Additionally, consider bringing along your dog’s favorite blanket or toy to provide comfort during the outing.

What should I bring with me when taking my dog to a restaurant or cafe?

It’s essential to pack some essentials for your dog, including a leash, water bowl, poop bags, and any necessary medications or treats. Also, consider bringing a mat or blanket for your dog to sit on and a portable fan or cooling pad during hot weather.

How can I ensure a positive experience for my dog and other people at the restaurant?

To ensure a positive experience for everyone, keep your dog under control at all times and be mindful of their behavior.

Avoid allowing your dog to beg for food or disturb other diners. Additionally, clean up after your dog and respect the establishment’s rules regarding pets.

Can I feed my dog from the restaurant or cafe menu?

While some restaurants or cafes may offer pet-friendly menu options, it’s generally best to stick to dog-safe treats or bring your own snacks for your pet.

Avoid feeding your dog from the restaurant’s menu unless specifically approved by the staff, as certain ingredients may be harmful to pets.

Enjoy This Post? Save and Share!

title of dog cafe culture: tips for a fun and stress-free experience with image of mini dapple dachshund dog sitting on chair at dog-friendly restaurant in barcelona

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top