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Are Dog Cafes Good For Dogs? Are They Ethical?

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on April 3, 2024 by Dogster Team

Are Dog Cafes Good For Dogs? Are They Ethical?

While the recent emergence of cat cafes around the world sparked discussions on the ethics of the practice, other species soon got their own eateries. Everything from dogs to hedgehogs to owls are featured in cafes, but with all the different animal cafes you can visit, the question arises about how ethical they are.

Dog cafes are no exception, and because dogs are generally seen as more open to socialization but potentially more wary of strangers (and have the capacity to do serious damage if they are large), many people are now deciding that dog cafes are unethical. Although we can’t generalize, some dog cafes overlook the well-being and safety of the dogs.

This is true even for those cafes that run as rescue and rehoming centers alongside serving coffee and tea. Some dog cafes run small operations with limited numbers of guests at a time, strict rules to follow, and areas where dogs can take themselves away and not be disturbed should they not want to socialize.

Other less-reputable businesses don’t care for the needs of the dogs. Reports of abuse, forced interactions, and near-misses with injuries to patrons have all been found, which most people think is the reason these cafes should either be regulated or shut down altogether.

While the relaxed and friendly atmosphere and setting are good for potential families looking to adopt a new dog, the rapidly changing sea of faces for the dogs in the shelter can cause stress and anxiety, potentially leading to problems in their new homes.

Some cafes also allow owners to bring their own dogs into the cafe, which can be either a pleasant experience for them or a stressful one, depending on how well they are socialized and how they react to other dogs.

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What Are Dog Cafes?

Originating in Japan, dog cafes are spaces where people and animals can interact in a controlled setting, which is purported to be stress-relieving for people who cannot keep a pet with them in their homes. It allows the visitors to enjoy petting and interacting with the dogs, and the dogs often get treats and belly rubs.

Alongside this, the cafe acts as a cafe serving drinks to paying customers and allowing them to stay for a limited time. Repeat visitors may do this to acquaint themselves with the dogs available for adoption and begin the bonding process with a dog they want to take home.

Cute hungry Welsh corgi dogs waiting for food from dog sitter in dog cafe
Image Credit: Verin, Shutterstock

How Did Dog Cafes Become Popular?

Animal cafes originated in Taiwan in the 1980s, with Japan being the place to popularize the setting. Cat cafes were the first animal cafes to appear, as cats generally have a calmer, more relaxed demeanor than other animals, and their love of vertical spaces made furnishing a cat cafe easy. However, other animals soon followed and the animal cafe’s popularity spread worldwide. Dog cafes are also open in several states in the US, including Los Angeles, which alongside the others in the country, primarily focuses on education and trying to find the dogs a forever home.

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Final Thoughts

In theory, dog cafes are an excellent idea, but in practice, they are high-stress environments and often aren’t run with the dog’s best interests in mind. While some try their very best to provide the dogs in their care with everything they need to thrive and ensure their welfare comes first, others use the cafes as money makers. For this reason, many people see dog cafes as unethical, even though they were created with good intentions.


Featured Image Credit: Tanate Phueakkwannak, Shutterstock

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