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Dogs in restaurants: what’s the law on it?

A pub lunch is one thing, but dinner at a restaurant? David Tomlinson has his say

dog in pub

How do you feel about dogs in restaurants? It’s not a subject that I’ve ever really thought too much about, though I remember observing years ago that the French take their dogs into restaurants and nobody seems to notice, let alone complain.

However, I was reminded of the subject earlier this month, when I was dining in a restaurant in the Estonian town of Haapsalu. The restaurant was the most popular in town — I had to book to secure a table — but it was patrolled by the proprietress’s pair of bulldogs.

The two bulldogs were exceedingly friendly, methodically working their way around the crowded restaurant and greeting every table. No doubt they would have wagged their tails if they could, but neither dog had a tail to wag. I watched the reactions of my fellow diners. Most were fascinated by the pair, reaching for their mobile phones to photograph them. The dogs were clearly well practised at posing for pictures, while to give them their due I didn’t see them bother anyone.

No UK law says dogs in restaurants is illegal

Here in the UK, the Food Hygiene Regulations 2013 insist that restaurant owners mustn’t allow dogs into places where food is prepared, handled or stored; however, there’s no UK law that says dogs aren’t permitted in restaurants, bars or other licensed premises.

I’m assured that there’s a growing trend for owners wanting to take their dogs in restaurants with them, and an increasing number of such establishments are happy for them to do so. I can’t say that I’ve ever wanted to take my dog or dogs out to dinner with me, but they have often joined me for pub lunches.

Many years ago I joined friends for lunch in a pub near Fountains Abbey in Yorkshire. My young spaniel came with me: I insisted that she sat under the table. I remember the shock of seeing a black-and-white springer that looked remarkably like mine walking round the far side of the pub. It was my spaniel, who had bitten through her rope lead, a favourite but exceedingly irritating trick of hers. (Read how to measure your dog for a slip lead.)