New California Law Allows Pet Dogs in Restaurants' Outdoor Dining Areas

Restaurants in California now have the option of legally allowing pet dogs into patios and outside dining areas. Restaurants and dog owners do have to follow certain rules, according to Assembly Bill 1965, signed by California Governor Jerry Brown. The new law applies only to dogs and applies whether or not they are service dogs or emotional support animals.

Section 114259.5(d) of the California Health and Safety Code requires the following conditions be satisfied for pet dogs to be allowed in outdoor dining areas.

  • Dogs must use a separate outdoor entrance so that they don't need to enter though the interior of the restaurant when going to the patio area.
  • Dogs pet dogs are not allowed on chairs, benches, seats, or tables.
  • Dogs are not allowed in outdoor dining areas where food or drink is prepared or utensils are stored.
  • Dogs may use only disposable food or water containers to eat or drink from.
  • “Food employees” are not allowed to have direct contact with dogs.
  • The outdoor dining area must be kept clean and sanitized as necessary.
  • The dog must be kept on a leash and be under the control of the owner or must be confined in a pet carrier.

    Note that the new law does not require restaurants to allow dogs in outside dining areas; the restaurant owner or manager can decide whether to allow them.