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Outdoor dining patios and beer gardens in Boston will have ‘Dog Friendly Spaces’

Two dogs stand with their owner as people go to the polls in the local elections on Thursday in Middlesbrough, England. Should these dogs make it to Boston this summer, they could be welcomed at an outdoor beer garden or restaurant with a “Dog Friendly Spaces” variance!Ian Forsyth/Getty

Boston’s beer gardens and outdoor dining patios can now apply for a special “Dog Friendly Spaces” variance that would allow customers to bring their canines to the al fresco spots. The designation is an effort to make the city “more family-friendly and dog-friendly,” Mayor Michelle Wu’s office said Thursday.

In a statement, Wu’s office said businesses that apply for the variances can start welcoming dogs as soon as June 1, once the requests are approved by the city’s Inspectional Services Department.

Dog-friendly spaces must be entirely outdoors, Wu’s office said, and establishments will have to ensure no food prep is happening in those areas. City officials said customers will be responsible for their dogs’ behavior and that pets must remain leashed at all times.


“We’re committed to making Boston a vibrant, family-friendly City, and that means rethinking our outdoor spaces to better build community,” Wu said in the statement. “Residents and small business owners have been eager for four-legged family members to be able to enjoy our outdoor spaces too, so we’re happy to make this regulatory change allowing dogs on outdoor patios and beer gardens.”

Her words were echoed by Inspectional Services Department Commissioner Sean Lydon.

“Creating these safe and sanitary dog friendly spaces is an exciting opportunity for both businesses and dog owners,” Lydon said in the statement. “The interest for such an environment has been growing, so being able to create a new policy to accommodate all interested parties is great.”

Segun Idowu, the city’s chief of economic opportunity and inclusion, also praised the dog initiative, which officials said was prompted by feedback from constituents interested in bringing their pets to outdoor eateries and suds stands.

“This policy change will help us advance Mayor Wu’s vision of a city that supports its small businesses, turns our neighborhoods into destinations, and creates opportunities for more residents to engage each other later into the night,” Idowu said in the statement. “I am grateful to the community members who shared feedback leading to this policy change, and to our partners in ISD for setting requirements that keep outdoor spaces safe and healthy while establishing a welcoming environment for our residents and visitors by allowing dog friendly spaces.”


Businesses can fill out an online application for a dog dispensation, according to Wu’s office. City officials said applications will be processed as they come in.

“We’re thrilled about the City’s decision to welcome dogs in beer gardens and Aeronaut Allston is eager to embrace this policy change,” said Ronn Friedlander, co-founder of Aeronaut Brewing Co., in the statement. “Our passion for cultivating an engaging community space in Allston is only enhanced by the opportunity to include our guests’ furry friends.”

One Allston resident, Laura Jillian Gray, praised city officials for listening to people like her who pushed for the change.

“It means a lot to me to know that the city listened when I pointed out how upsetting it was that we created a new dog park, but still didn’t allow dogs in beer gardens or outdoor establishments in Boston,” Gray said in the statement.

In the past, she said, traveling outside Boston with her dog left her feeling despondent.

“It broke my heart to have to travel to nearby towns that were dog-friendly, because I didn’t feel welcome in my own neighborhood,” Gray said. “With this new change to allow dogs, I can’t wait to enjoy this summer in Allston again!”


Travis Andersen can be reached at