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Can A Service Dog Sit At A Table In A Restaurant?

At A Glance

Service dogs often have access to public places as their owners need them for assistance. But can service dogs be in restaurants? Are they allowed to sit at a table?

  • Many restaurants may allow service dogs but they are not required to permit emotional support dogs. Also, restaurants may ask about what they're trained for without having to see a certificate.
  • Although service dogs can accompany their owners into restaurants, they cannot sit  or romp everywhere. They may stay at their owner’s feet or chair or move under the table out of aisles.

Last Updated on: May 30, 2023

Service dogs are essential for the individuals that rely on them, and they are granted public access rights because of this. Folks may often ask, “But can service dogs be in restaurants?”

Most areas, even if they don’t typically allow dogs, must let service dogs and their owners in as part of providing fair and equal services.

Restaurants are not excluded from this, and service dogs are often seen sitting around their owner’s feet in dining areas.

That being said, sitting on the ground is one thing, but are service dogs allowed to sit at the table in a restaurant?

Our article gives you more information on what service dogs are permitted to do when in public spaces and what you might be able to expect when a service dog enters a restaurant with their owner.

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Can service dogs be in restaurants?

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), service dogs are granted public access rights.

These rights allow the service dog to accompany their owner in stores, restaurants, and other public areas so that the owner is never apart from the animal they rely on.

The ADA defines a service animal as a dog of any breed or size that has been taught skills that directly help with an individual’s disability, such as guiding the visually impaired or a psychiatric service dog that provides relief from symptoms of PTSD.

While restaurants must allow service dogs in order to comply with the ADA, they are not required to allow Emotional Support Animals.

Emotional Support Animals have not been trained to perform specific tasks that help with their owner’s disabilities beyond providing comfort and relief with their companionship. Because of this, they are not granted the same public access rights.

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What Are Restaurants Allowed to Ask About Service Dogs?

If you are bringing your service dog to a restaurant, there are limited questions that can be asked about your companion.

Remember, you are not required to have a certification, identification card, or vest on your service dog. However, most individuals do choose to utilize a vest to make things easier when in public.

As per the ADA, the only questions that a restaurant may ask about your service dog are:

  • “Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability?”
  • “What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?”

Any other requests for documentation, proof that your dog can complete service tasks, or refusal of service based on a lack of documentation are in violation of the ADA.

Can Service Dogs Sit at Tables in Restaurants?

Service dogs can accompany their owners into restaurants, but this doesn’t mean that the service dog will have free rein over all the furniture and tables in the restaurant.

Service dogs are primarily trained to stay at their owner’s feet, move under the table out of aisles, or rest next to their owner’s chair in a restaurant.

Manners like these come from the Canine Good Citizen test, and while there are no specific training requirements for service dogs, many well-trained service dogs adhere to these manners.

That being said, it may be necessary for a service dog to sit near or on their owner in a restaurant.

This might prove helpful if the dog is alerting their owner or because they have been trained to complete specific service dog tasks while the owner is in the restaurant.

Ultimately, this type of service dog behavior should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. If a service dog is sitting in a chair next to the owner, you are not allowed to ask the dog to get down or ask the owner what tasks their dog is performing.

However, if the dog is clearly not trained, jumping all around, attempting to get on tables, and generally causing havoc, they might not be a true service dog, or they are a poorly trained service dog.

In cases like these, restaurants might have legal backing to ask the service dog to sit down on the ground or to speak with the owner about removing their service dog from the business’s premises.

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When Can Restaurants Refuse To Serve Individuals With Service Dogs?

As we mentioned above, a service dog that is out of control, causing havoc, or putting staff and other patrons of a business in danger might result in their owner being legally denied service.

The presence of service dogs that “fundamentally alter” an activity, business, or event, and the presence of service dogs that are misbehaved and ill-mannered are mentioned in the ADA as part of the few reasons why an individual and their service dog might be denied service.

If a service dog is sitting at the table in a restaurant and causing havoc, they will likely be asked to sit on the floor and behave or asked to leave.

Keeping Your Service Dog Companion by Your Side

Service dogs are important companions to many individuals with disabilities, and it’s important for service dog owners to have their helpers with them at all times.

Can service dogs be in restaurants? Public access rights to businesses such as restaurants are a key part of ensuring that individuals with disabilities receive equal and fair services as others. This means that restaurants must allow service dogs to enter.

While service dogs don’t typically sit at tables next to their owners, this is a very situation-dependent thing.

The service dog may need to be closer to its owner to perform a specific task.

Restaurants are not allowed to ask or refuse service to the owner and their dog unless the dog is out of control or presenting a threat to those around them.

Make sure you keep all of this in mind as you access your ADA-protected rights and visit restaurants with your helpful service dog companion.

Service dogs are allowed to enter restaurants. Although they may not be allowed to sit at tables, they can sit under tables, at their owner’s feet, and make their way through aisles. Do your research to know more about your rights before taking your service animal to a restaurant.

 

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I am a full-time mum of two kids and a beautiful golden retriever. Writing is my passion: from food journalism to pets, parenting tips, etc. I can write on just about everything under the sun. I have been writing for the past 7 years and during that time, I have been a regular contributor to several blogs and pet magazines. I have also written feature articles, POV pieces, and dabbled in a few different formats of writing over the years.