Dog-Friendly Patio FAQs
Believe it or not, Alberta was actually the very first province in Canada to allow dog friendly patios, starting in the autumn of 2012. Since that time, Alberta has helped to drive Canada-wide trends towards dog friendly patios, leading the way for provinces like Ontario and Nova Scotia to follow suit, more recently.
It might come as a surprise that, before 2012, the sole way dogs could join their owners at patios was by being tied up along the perimeter of restaurant patios, which were considered part of the sidewalk. Mainly because of Alberta Health Service’s concerns for health (for instance, other patrons being allergic to dogs), safety (children who are afraid of being bitten), and restaurant aesthetics (dogs barking during other patrons’ dining experiences), no restaurants were officially dog friendly in Alberta before 2012.
Those regulations by Alberta Health Services were first abandoned in 2012, when Harris Dvorkin, who was a co-owner of Calgary’s local favorite Ranchman’s Cookhouse and Grill, successfully pushed for Ranchman’s to become the first dog friendly patio in Canada. In becoming Canada’s first dog friendly eatery, Dvorkin’s assistant Vanessa Woodman recalled, “he’s a dog lover. [Harry] wanted to be the first to bring dogs to the patio and to be able to do that took a lot of work.” Working in lockstep with Alberta Health Services, Ranchman’s made all the necessary investments to become dog friendly, rebuilding its deck (to have a dog-only section), adding a dog walk area, installing dog hitching posts, and resealing the patio with a more sanitary sealant.
After Ranchman’s became Canada’s first pup friendly patio, surprisingly few actually followed their lead, in the years following. As a CBC article mentioned around 2018, according to Alberta Health Services officials, few restaurants actually inquired if they could also become dog friendly. To keep the momentum going, Calgary’s Vin Room became a new driving force in helping Calgary and Alberta lead the way in restaurants becoming dog friendly.
In 2017, Phoebe Fung owner of Vin Room and a cute pomeranian named Dom, asked Alberta Health Services if Vin Room could also become dog friendly. Even though Ranchman’s had received special permission from Alberta Health to have their dog friendly patio, a formal process hadn’t yet been launched, for other businesses to follow suit. With the help of Vin Room’s initiative to make their patio dog friendly, Alberta Health Services created a new permit which restaurants could apply for, without any cost (apart from costs needed to become compliant). Nowadays, restaurants simply must make all their patio surfaces washable, create cleaning stations for dogs, and install signage to state the dog rules. Fortunately, the benefits of making restaurants dog-friendly have become popularized in recent years, which has led to a convenient boom of dog friendly eateries in Alberta and across Canada.