Are Dog Bars the New Dog Park?

Mary Simpson
by Mary Simpson

Socializing with other pet parents over a cold one, just got easier!

Photo Credit: Lau Bacanal /

Love the idea of bellying up to the bar with your best bud in tow? Well, socializing your dog just got a lot more fun with the arrival of Dog Bars!

Never heard of them? As a trend, they’re a relatively new offering in North America and are just what they sound like - a traditional bar with food and drink options. The big “however” is that they also offer loads of indoor/outdoor space for your pooch to roam freely, play with others and meet some new friends. Best of all, they're also a great opportunity for pet parents to connect and share triumphs, fails, and those naughty dog escapades we all love to hear about (when it’s someone else’s dog) over their beverage of choice.

Spotting the growing pattern of pet owners wanting to include the fur kid in more of their off-the-clock activities was easy. Seriously, how often have you googled hotels, airlines, and restaurant patios to see if your pet can be accommodated, right? Once identified, the “how” to fill this highly lucrative niche became a no-brainer: provide a space for both four- and two-legged socializing.

Now, this concept ticks a few boxes that include getting Rover up and out for an afternoon of fun while allowing you - the pet owner - to kick back and enjoy yourself in an environment where monitoring his whereabouts is a non-issue. That said, unlike a leash-free park where pets can race around at breakneck speed, a dog bar will have rules in place with prerequisites being the dog must be vaccinated, spayed or neutered, well-behaved and that the owner must be on hand to intervene if things get a little too active. These requirements keep the general mood on point while also delivering a gentle nudge to pet owners to take a more active, responsible role in rearing their pooch.

Alas, while the vibe is chill and your pet is free to roam around, the establishment will typically veto sneaking in your dog’s fave toys or treats. That squishy ball can trigger resource guarding with some dogs and let’s face it, random treats stashed into a pocket or tote bag are quickly sniffed out and can invoke a frenzy of activity that might just evolve into a testy exchange. Both serious buzz-kills when you're trying to relax and enjoy a beer.

As popularity grows, many dog bars have partnered with local pet-related businesses, inviting them to share new products, treats, and/or service offerings for a fun, educational add-on. And more establishments are offering pre-paid options with monthly or annual memberships as well as the ability to book your R&R getaway for an hour, a half-day, a full day or even adding grooming and training onto your bar tab.

Intrigued? Google Dog Bars to find one in your 'hood.

Now, if only we could figure out something for cats!

Mary Simpson
Mary Simpson

Sharing space with three seriously judgy Schnoodles and a feline who prefers to be left alone. #LivingMyBestLife

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