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Woof! Pooches allowed on Alberta eateries' patios

Restaurants, bars and coffee shops can now welcome customers’ dogs on their patios without approval from Alberta Health Services (AHS). 
No more permission needed: dogs are now welcome on patios at Alberta eateries. Photo: Metro Creative Connection

Effective immediately, Alberta eateries no longer need approval from a public health inspector to allow pooches on patios.

Alberta’s change to the Food Regulation removes red tape for establishments that want to make outdoor dining easier for their dog-loving customers. Establishments are not required to offer dog-friendly patios, however, so patrons should check restaurants’ policies ahead of their visit.

"We have responded to requests from restaurants to lift unnecessary hurdles so more businesses can welcome dog lovers who enjoy dining outdoors," said Premier Jason Kenney.

Health minister Jason Copping also applauded the change, saying "“Other jurisdictions have allowed dogs on patios without compromising food safety. This change will let AHS public health inspectors focus their efforts where they are needed most."

Restaurants like the move too, according to Mark von Schellwitz, vice president of Restaurants Canada (western Canada). He says it's a common sense change that reduces red tape for restaurant owners and provides more flexibility. "It also encourages people to dine out more often as the hard-hit food sector begins economic recovery from the pandemic."

Establishments will continue to ensure food safety standards for all customers and follow two main requirements:

  • Non-service dogs are allowed on patios only and must not pass through any indoor food handling areas, such as dining and food preparation areas. Service dogs continue to be allowed in indoor and outdoor dining areas.

  • Customers must keep their dogs on a leash or in a carrier and have physical control of the dog at all times.

  • The amendment in regulation to remove the requirement of AHS approval is for dogs only. Other animals are not included in this change.