Can Service Dogs Sit on Chairs in Restaurants?

September 26
Can service dogs sit on chairs in restaurants?  Short answer is YES.

Service dogs have specific guidelines and protocols that differ significantly from pets when it comes to public places like restaurants. Here’s a detailed overview addressing whether service dogs can sit on chairs in restaurants:

Rights and Regulations:

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), service dogs are allowed in public places, including restaurants, where other animals are generally not permitted. These are working dogs trained to perform tasks and assist people with disabilities, ensuring their safety and well-being. The primary focus of a service dog is to facilitate its owner, and it usually needs to remain on the floor close to its handler.

Etiquette and Practicality:

Generally, it’s not proper etiquette for service dogs to be on chairs or benches, and they are trained to sit or lie down beside their handler's feet. It is essential for a service dog to be unintrusive and not to disturb the environment and other patrons. Restaurants are particularly sensitive areas due to food safety and hygiene concerns.

Health Code Regulations:

Health code regulations also play a vital role. Most health codes strictly prohibit animals from being on seats or tables due to contamination risks. Any deviation from this could result in serious ramifications for the restaurant, including fines and penalties.

Restaurant Policies:

While the ADA mandates accessibility for service dogs, restaurants may have policies about where dogs can be. The key is to maintain a balance between accommodating service dogs and maintaining a clean and safe environment for all patrons.

Public Perception and Comfort:

Allowing a service dog to sit on a chair might cause discomfort to other patrons due to allergies or fear of dogs. It’s crucial to maintain a comfortable atmosphere for all restaurant guests, and having service dogs on the floor helps mitigate potential discomfort.


While service dogs are permitted in restaurants, allowing them to sit on chairs is not typically allowed for practical, regulatory, and etiquette reasons. Handlers and restaurant staff should cooperate to ensure that the presence of a service dog is unobtrusive and comfortable for everyone present, respecting the rules and the rights of all patrons, and adhering to cleanliness and public health standards.


It is important to remember that refusing service to an individual with a service dog because of the dog is a violation of federal law, and establishments need to make reasonable accommodations for individuals with service animals.

In conclusion, service dogs play an essential role in assisting individuals with disabilities, and their access to public places, including restaurants, is protected by law. However, it is crucial for the handlers to ensure that their service dogs adhere to acceptable norms and regulations, maintaining a harmonious and hygienic dining environment for everyone.