For dog owners who have nice, well-behaved pups, going out to eat with your pack just got a little bit easier: A new Los Angeles County Public Health policy gives restaurants with outside dining areas the authority to decide whether to give dogs a seat at the foot of the table.

As the Daily News reports, previous county policy prohibited dogs from entering any enclosed or fenced-off patio. However, the Health Department reviewed its policy at the request of Supervisor Don Knabe, who in turn was alerted to this issue by the owners of Lazy Dog Cafe.

“After a meticulous review of supporting data,” the department agreed with Supervisor Knabe and Lazy Dog Cafe and relaxed its dogmatic ban to give wide discretion to restaurant owners, who now are free to make the best decision for their business.

Restaurants who want to let the dogs in still must abide by some basic ground rules. No food can be prepared in the outdoor dining area, for example, and because dogs cannot go through the restaurant to get to the patio, there must be a separate entrance to the outdoor area. Waitstaff and other employees have to resist the urge to pet your cute shiba inu, though they can give her water if it's in a single-use disposable container. And the dog cannot have an actual seat at the table, even if he is Martha Stewart's Chow Chow and thus accustomed, apparently, to drinking out of a silver bowls at the table of the Plaza Hotel before winning the Best of Breed ribbon at the Westminster Dog Show.

This new and improved policy is effective immediately and affects all restaurants and eateries within the department's jurisdiction.

LA Weekly