Patio season is here, and that means more opportunities to bring your canine companion along with you for a brewery visit. There are a few things to know before you go to ensure the most enjoyable visit for yourself and your dog.
What is it about craft beer and dog lovers? Maybe it’s just that good people have great taste both in what they consume and who they hang out with. I’m not sure exactly what brings the two together, but it definitely seems like a lot of craft beer people are also dog people.
Consider this list: Yellow Dog Brewing, Unleashed Brewing, Bad Dog Brewing, 3 Dogs Brewing, Twa Dogs Brewery, Red Collar Brewing, and Dog Mountain Brewing. OK, sure, that last one is an actual mountain and not a giant pile of puppies, but I’m counting it… There are a bevy of dog-themed breweries to explore in BC.
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Aside from the dog-themed breweries themselves, many others have taken steps to welcome our furry friends. Take this recent video posted by Field House Brewing (above), for example, encouraging owners to bring their pets down for a visit. And then there’s Barkside, sorry, Parkside Brewery, who have made their love for dogs a public affair. At various breweries around the province there are spent-grain dog treats; branded dog bandanas, collars, and leashes; and often community water dishes available to borrow.
And there’s just no way to talk about dogs at breweries without acknowledging Unleashed Brewing in Kelowna. Unleashed was BC’s first brewery to get permission to have dogs in the tasting room, and they’ve had to fight hard to keep that designation. It works for them, and their patrons. Perhaps one reason is the canine code of conduct that they have crafted.
Bringing your pooch along to happy hour can be a great outing on a rainy day, a way to socialize, and just an overall fun way to spend an afternoon with your favourite companion. But keeping in mind some basic etiquette rules and manners is crucial to making it an enjoyable time for everyone.
Exposing a dog, especially a big one, to unfamiliar territory carries with it certain inherent risks. There are people bustling about with trays of drinks and food — often food that is not dog friendly (an errant bone from a chicken wing could be disastrous) — and dogs can be a tripping hazard. Never mind a surprise visit from a small child who snuck away from their parents, an encounter with another reactive dog, and of course the broken glass caused by an overly enthusiastic tail wag.
Does that mean we shouldn’t bring our four-legged friends with us to the patio? I think it’s crucial to know your dog, know their limits, and decide from there.
Here are some tips for making your next brewery visit with Fido as enjoyable as possible.
Know your dog and come prepared.
Knowing what your dog needs to be comfortable on a public patio can vary widely from dog to dog. If you have a high energy dog, making sure they get a good walk in before your visit is a great idea. Bringing a toy or chew to keep them engaged and happy at your table works well for some, but maybe less so for those with guarding tendencies. A blanket or small bed might be a big plus for dogs without the benefit of a thick coat in these early spring days.
And don’t forget the essentials: a water bowl, waste bags, and leash.
Be prepared to leave if necessary.
Dogs are social animals and enjoy spending time with their people. It’s natural for us to feel the same way, and to want to spend time with our dogs. However, not all dogs are suited to public outings. If you know your dog can be reactive towards others, or if they bark non-stop when overstimulated, pull continually on the leash to go say “Hi” to others, they may be more comfortable at home.
Leaving the patio earlier than intended, or even leaving your pooch at home, isn’t admitting defeat. It’s more about knowing your dog’s limitations and not putting them in a stressful situation needlessly. Grab a four- or six-pack to go, and head home to unwind with your pooch in a more calm environment.
Keep your dog on a leash and at your table.
Breweries are busy places, and a dog, no matter how friendly, that’s blocking the way for servers and other patrons can be problematic.
Keeping your dog close by ensures that they stay safe (no one wants to accidentally step on a paw or tail!) and that they aren’t able to help themselves to unattended snacks at the next table over. And of course, there are some people who simply don’t like dogs or may have allergies. Having our dogs with us on patios is a privilege — keeping your dog with you and not allowing them to wander ensures that other patrons are comfortable, and therefore less likely to object.
Go for potty breaks and clean up any accidents.
If you’re planning to stay for a while, be sure to take your dog for a potty break. If you’ve had to use the facilities during your stay, your dog very well might as well. Keep an eye out for cues that they may need a break. And this might seem obvious, but if an accident does happen, clean it up. You should be prepared with bags for any, shall we say, solid deposits, but ask staff for the best way to deal with a liquid oopsies.
We’d be remiss not to include some reminders for humans as well. As much as we might want to pet all the dogs, it’s not always welcomed or appropriate.
Always ask before approaching.
This applies to kids, adults, and everyone in between. Just because the adorable little fluff ball at the table next to you looks to be eyeing you up for a snuggle, doesn’t mean that they welcome attention. Consider this scenario: as much as we all want to love on adorable, wiggly, puppies, they may be working on training at the time. Teaching a young dog to lie calmly at your side without jumping up every time someone approaches is a valuable and necessary behaviour. Approaching a dog and allowing them to do that very behaviour can set back training in a frustrating way for the owners.
There are many reasons why someone may trust their dog to come to the brewery, but not to be approached by strangers — always ask, and always respect the answer given by the dog’s handler.
Never, ever feed a dog anything without permission.
Maybe you’ve always snuck your furry friend the odd tidbit from your plate, especially on special occasions. Maybe that choice is OK for you and your dog. But feeding others might result in anything from an upset tummy to a full-on allergy attack or gastro episode requiring veterinary intervention. It might seem like a harmless little treat, but it can do damage. Check with the handler, and again: respect their answer.
Many, if not most, breweries are family friendly. And what are dogs, if not members of the family? It’s getting increasingly common to see dog-friendly patios filled with happy wagging tails and smiling humans.
And the more we can do to be responsible dog owners and keep this momentum going in a positive way, the better.