NEW YORK (PIX11) – Dog owners in New York City are allowed to bring their pets with them to outdoor dining areas — if the restaurant allows it and certain rules are followed.

Restaurants may allow dogs with their owners in outdoor dining areas, but restaurants aren’t required to if they don’t want to — with the exception of service dogs, which must always be allowed to accompany their owners.

The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene outlined what to know about dining with your dog in outdoor dining areas.

What is considered an outdoor dining area?

“Outdoor dining areas” are any outdoor area where customers eat that is operated by a restaurant, including unenclosed sidewalk cafes, backyards and patios.

Can dogs go inside restaurants?

Dogs have to enter outdoor dining areas directly from the outside. Dogs aren’t allowed to enter inside a restaurants or anywhere else where food is stored or prepared in order to get to an outdoor dining area. Service dogs are exceptions and are allowed to be inside restaurants.

Do dogs need to be leashed in outdoor dining areas?

Dogs are required to be within an arm’s length of their owner within outdoor dining areas. They can either be in a carrier or on a leash that’s being held by the owner or tied to the table or chair leg. Dogs also have to stay on the ground. They aren’t allowed on chairs, benches, seats or other furniture, and they can’t sit in the aisles.

Additionally, restaurants are supposed to have a barrier in the outdoor dining area to limit contact between dogs and people on the sidewalk. Dogs must also be licensed and vaccinated against rabies to be in outdoor dining areas.

Can owners feed their dogs in outdoor dining areas?

Dog owners can’t feed their pet off of plates or bowls provided by the restaurant. Dogs are required to eat and drink from single-use disposable containers.

How do restaurants keep outdoor dining areas sanitary?

Restaurants aren’t allowed to prepare food and drinks in outdoor dining areas if they allow dogs. Utensils must also be stored inside the restaurant. However, workers are allowed to refill drinks from a pitcher in outdoor dining areas.

Only restaurant workers who do not prepare or serve food are allowed to clean up dog urine, feces and vomit in outdoor dining areas. Restaurants are required to sanitize the areas right away when that occurs.

Also, restaurant workers are not allowed to touch customers’ dogs. If they do, they have to wash their hands right away.