Dear PoP – Are Dogs Allowed in Coffeeshops?

Photo by PoPville flickr user Bogotron

“Dear PoP,

Do you know anything about the legalities of bringing your dog to a coffeeshop in the district? I used to live in an east coast city before moving down here two years ago, and there, more often than not, your neighborhood coffeeshop employees wouldn’t look twice if you brought your dog in while you worked on your laptop, talked with friends, etc. The other day I was told by the barista that dogs legally aren’t allowed in coffeeshops here. Is this true? As yet, I haven’t found a spot to hang out with my (well-behaved) dog, and of course we both prefer sitting outside. But I’d like to bring him along when I can during the winter months as well. Any ideas on such laws, or are these really just rules each coffeeshop sets? And if so, does anyone know of any spots to take their dog?”

Hmm, this is a good question. I think I’ve seen signs around town for shops and coffeeshops in particular that say “dogs welcome” or something like that. Hmm, does anyone know if there is a law forbidding dogs in coffeeshops? I feel like I just saw a sign saying dogs welcome – maybe at Peregrine on the Hill? Anyone know if there are coffeeshops that welcome dogs? What if people have allergies?

And of course – more generally – do you think dogs should or should not be allowed in coffeeshops or any shops?

89 Comment

  • I’d love a side of asthma attack with my morning latte.

  • Yeah, nothing like getting crotch slobber to go into the office with from a dogs nose while standing in line to order my coffee.

  • As a dog lover, it hurts me to say that dogs are legally not allowed in most restaurants. I’m stuck as both a business owner and pet lover, so the best you can get in DC would be one of the Kimpton hotels where you have the dog anywhere in the hotel, except for the restaurant.

  • Lots of people are seriously allergic to dogs. Leave them home.

  • You absolutely can not bring your dog inside Peregrine, or any other establishment that serves food. The only places I’ve been able to bring my dog inside were the lobby bar part of Art & Soul inside the Liaison Hotel (and I’m almost positive they were making an exception) and Wonderland, when it was almost empty. To my knowledge, there is no where in the US where it is actually legal to bring dogs inside of establishments serving food – though I’m sure many of us can come up with examples of places that will turn a blind eye to it.

    I take my dog everywhere, to the extent possible, which includes restaurant and bar patios in the summer, but I would never bring her into a food establishment. I don’t even bring her into Hill’s Kitchen, where I’m friends with the owner and where they don’t actually prepare food. I just don’t think she needs to be inside around food or food related items. (I have taken her into plenty of shops that are dog friendly, but none of those has anything to do with food.)

    • Prince Of Petworth

      Hmm, I know I was on the Hill and I remember reading a sign saying dogs welcome. Ugh, this is gonna kill me. I guess it was a non food shop…

    • jburka

      At a Starbucks in Palm Springs a couple of years ago, I saw a guy come in with his dog and order his regular — his drink along with a lid filled with whipped cream for the dog. The barista was clearly familiar with the whole thing and the dog lapped up the whipped cream from the lid while they were standing at the counter. It was one of the oddest things I’ve ever seen in a food establishment in the States.

      Of course, in Europe, it’s not unusual for dogs to be carted around everywhere, including restaurants.

  • i love my dog, but i think everyone would rather i leave her at home. then there is the issue of outdoor seating, it is allowed then?

    • Up to the restaurant. DC’s laws on this are pretty liberal (compared to Alexandria, for example, where dogs are only allowed ON patios with special permits for such), otherwise they need to be on the other side of the fence.

  • I think it’s fine to bring your dog to pet friendly outdoor patio, of which there are many, as long as your dog is well socialized and you don’t mind people petting it. I get annoyed with people who bring unsocialized or aggressive dogs into the public space.

  • I love dogs but don’t feel they are appropriate in any place of business besides a vet’s office or pet store. Plus my dogs have bad breath that could kill!

  • My brother lived in Denmark for around ten years and when he was first there he was surprised that people took their dogs everywhere. He had a conversation about it with a native that went something like this:

    “I can’t believe people can bring their dogs everywhere in this country?!”

    “Why not?”

    “Well, what if you brought your dog to the bank and he took a crap on the floor?”

    “If I could train my dog to crap on the floor, I would bring him to the bank every day!”

    I’m a dog lover, but I don’t need to have them in restaurants, bars, shops, etc.

  • Unless your dog is a seeing eye dog, NO.

    I’ve spent some time in Southeast Asia where dogs run rampant in lower-end restaurants but that was because they were feral and the establishments were of questionable hygenic standard. I don’t even like dogs on the patio- who’s going to clean up my foot when your dog #1/#2s on it?

  • Health code prohibits animals inside establishments that sell food. Although it is becoming more common to find places that allow pets on patios. It’s usually up to the owner to allow pets on patios. Argonaut and Perigrine are the two that I know of on The Hill.

    • I used to bring my dog many places to get her out of the house and socialize her in different settings – we know the stores she’s allowed in to (Books a Million, Pulp, Mr Yogato among her favorites). Those businesses have dog treats. She’s well behaved and I’ve never seen anyone get irritated by her even though she’s big.

      But I wouldn’t take her to a business where I planned to stay for a long period of time, especially a place as busy as a local coffee shop. She can sit with me outside, or stay at home. It’s not fair to the other patrons or the employees.

  • No way. I’ve seen dogs sh*t all the time, but I’ve never seen one wipe. I don’t want that anywhere near a food establishment. I work in a specialty food store/restaurant and we occasionally have to chase people out.

  • Can a service dog go into any food establishment?

    • yes, as long as the dog is a registered seeing eye dog and not just a seeing eye dog in training. i just know specifically for seeing eye dogs, but i am sure it is the same with other service dogs.

    • In my experience (15 years ago, in another state), yes. I fostered a guide dog puppy for a year, and I took him everywhere with me. It was an important part of his training, to get used to all kinds of environments and not get flustered. He just had to wear his little “service dog in training” coat. The manager of the fast food place my friends and I patronized (plagued?) used to slip him little scraps of hamburger that were past their sell-by time.

    • jburka

      Yes, and I’ve been in many restaurants and bars with a couple of friends with service dogs. Which is to say that no one is guaranteed to ever be in a completely dog-free establishment. Which pretty much negates the hygiene and allergy arguments.

      That said, service dogs are extremely well trained and the issues of how well trained other dogs are (both in terms of bodily functions, unwanted affection, and aggression) are very real.

      • I’m not proud to say that my service-dog-in-training caused his fair share of mayhem in the early days. Knocked over a display of canned soup in the grocery store, piddled on the floor of a hair salon, barked in church… But that was when he was a young puppy, and his over-the-top adorableness bought him all kinds of forgiveness. He very quickly figured out that when he was wearing his coat, it was work time, and special behavior was required.
        You’re right that gradutated service dogs should not have any of these issues.

      • “Which pretty much negates the hygiene and allergy arguments.”

        It doesn’t negate those arguments, it demonstrates that rules can be made to conform to unusual circumstances. Someone who needs a service dog to make their daily life more manageable should get deference and be given a little leeway.

        • The allergy comment makes no sense. People are allergic to all sorts of things that aren’t banned inside stores. If you’re allergic to my mohair sweater while we’re sitting inside starbucks, am I then banned from starbucks?

  • While I have no objection to dogs sharing my space in these kinds of places, I understand the objections of those who do, and I am pretty impressed with the thoughtfulness of dog owners (as indicated in these responses).

    Now, if we can get the pet owners to conduct workshops on thoughtfulness and courtesy for the parents of small children (who are more annoying and unsanitary than dogs x100), we might finally have a decent place for me to have a cup of coffee in DC.

  • I know Union Pub allows dogs on the patio, and even has specified bring-your-dog events in the summer. Also, Commerce Bank used to have dog treats on the counters. Not sure if they still do now that it’s owned by a different company, but I can only assume that meant they welcomed dogs inside.

    • Was in TDBank (formerly Commerce) at Chinatown yesterday and they had a bowl of dog treats on the counter so I’m guessing they still allow it.

  • I’ve heard of people getting their dogs certified as “therapy dogs”, the kind you take to nursing homes to play with the old folks, and using that as justification to take them into restaurants. Seems iffy to me, though.

    I think it’s great to see dogs on patios in nice weather, but prefer they not come inside, ESPECIALLY in bad weather. When I lived in France, where people brought their dogs to the cafe all year round, the smell of even one wet dog could get pretty overpowering. More than the cigarettes and B.O. Haha…. sterotypes. It’s funny ’cause it’s true.

  • Why must dog owners flaunt their cluelessness so relentlessly?

  • I’d like to train my dog to chase away the seat hogging people on their laptops who sit their for hours. Those are the real coffee shop menace!

    My wife used to read for hours at a Border’s Bookstore, while our old dog would nap under the table. No one bothered her, and no one died of asthma.

  • Love my dog, but no way. Some people have not properly trained or socialized their dog which ends up being a menace at the patio. And most of those owners don’t care when their dog starts a fight with other pets.

  • I used to take my helper monkey Mojo everywhere (he would steal doughnuts for me), but then one day Grandpa ate him…

  • Yes, It should be left up to the owner of the establishment.

  • I try to bring my dog to outdoor patios as much as possible. I experienced one incident at Le Pain Quoditien on the Hill where the waitress asked me to put my dog on the sidewalk side of the fence – so, not inside the dining patio. I’ve been to many other establishments where the dog is allowed onto the main patio and sits under the table. Does anyone have any idea whether each restaurant is allowed to decide whether dogs are allowed onto the patio itself or whether they must be on the sidewalk, tied to the fence?

    • In DC it’s up to the restaurant. Unlike places like Alexandria or Maryland, we don’t have a specific ordinance.

      Maryland used to be really really lax with letting dogs inside places. I used to take my pup to the bar all the time when I lived up there (multiple bars were fine with this) but then they started cracking down and enforcing existing restrictions preventing dogs.

  • Like smoking!

    And if you don’t like smoke like me, don’t patronize that business.

  • I’m really surprised that this is even an issue. I love dogs but they are animals and they should not be allowed inside an establishment that serves food. It doesn’t matter how cute or well-behaved the dog is. It is unhealthy for it to be in an indoor space where food is being served. And restaurants and coffee shops who allow dogs to be on patios need to educate their waitstaff on hygiene. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen waitstaff rub their hands all over some dog and then proceed to touch silverware, glasses, and plates of food. It’s gross.

    • I don’t know, I cook pretty much every day in my apartment, where my dog lives…walks around…sometimes dribbles water….and I only ever get colds from coworkers that don’t wash their hands or tummy aches from restaurants where the staff is questionable. I think my dog is far more clean than most restaurant kitchens. The hygiene argument is baseless when you consider how many people have dogs yet manage to survive sharing quarters with them.

      • I cook in my home where my cats walk all over the place, including on the stove and the counters. The hygiene argument is baseless for you, me, and anyone else who has a pet and doesn’t mind sharing space and germs with their pets. But the argument has lots of merit when it comes to inflicting your or my animal’s germs on other people. When I go to a restaurant I am not consenting to share the spaces where food is prepared and served with animals (unless they are service animals). The fact that health codes prohibit animals inside restaurants proves my point.

    • There are tons of things waiters/waitresses can do that are unsanitary that have nothing to do with dogs–cough, sneeze, blow their noses, scratch their asses. The mere presence of a dog in a building does not somehow make the food that’s prepared there unsafe. While there are some good reasons not to have dogs in restaurants, this isn’t one of them.

      • Again, the health codes that prohibt non-service animals in restaurants beg to differ with the assertion that the presence of a dog does not at least potentially make the food unsafe. The Food and Drug Administration, which creates guidelines for the handling of food in restaurants and grocery stores, prohibits live animals, excluding fish in tanks and service animals, in establishments that serve food. The regulations are in place owing to the health concern that animals could contaminate food if employees touch them and don’t wash their hands.
        You are right that waitstaff do lots of unsanitary things. My point was that in addition to being told that they should wash their hands after coughing, sneezing, blowing their noses, and scratching their asses, they ought to be told to wash their hands after petting someone’s dog.

  • wtf, as a dog owner i’ve never even remotely expected to be able to bring my dog inside a coffee shop or restaurant. he’s a dog, he can stay tied up outside.

  • Nothing against animals or the owners, but if I had to sit next to a dog for more than 5 minutes my eyes would swell up, my nose would run, I’d sneeze uncontrollably and eventually would have a hard time breathing. Outside it isn’t as bad, but many time I won’t sit on patios for that reason.

  • GiantSquid

    I have two dogs, I love them very much, but they, and other dogs, do not belong in restaurants, grocery stores, coffee shops, malls, etc. I worked in a theatre (stage not movie) and heard at least one story where someone tried to bring their dog into the show. It was not a seeing-eye dog. I think that if a dog is designated as a therapy dog, as this woman claimed, then they need to start certifying them and having a vest or something else that identifies them so it’s not just some person carrying around their chihuahua everywhere in their purse.

    Dogs are great. Love ’em. Like many things, including children, they aren’t appropriate everywhere.

  • As much as everyone loves dogs, they should not be allowed in food establishments. Aside from people’s allergic reactions and asthma, it’s always best to keep live pets as far from food as possible.

  • Then can I start a /dog owner only/ coffee shop?

    I’d much rather own the only coffee shop that allows dogs than just another coffee shop that caters to the easily allergic.

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