Whether it’s running errands or going out shopping, most pet parents will agree – leaving the family dog by himself at home can pose a challenge at times. From puppies who are too young to be left alone to senior dogs who require a little extra TLC, having the ability to bring one’s four-legged friend along while shopping at dog friendly stores can make a world of difference to owners and pooches alike.
Fortunately for fur-baby folks and their fuzzy companions, retailers nationwide have taken heed to the needs of dog owners across America – in fact, there are many large retail chains that welcome canines, as well as other pets. Whereas bringing a pup into a retail establishment was once limited to service dogs only, there are an increasing number of stores who have adopted pet-friendly policies. Read on to find out which stores allow dogs by category, where people can shop with (or for) their pups:
It probably comes as no surprise that the first two dog friendly stores on this list are pet stores – after all, they’re in the business of catering to animals! Both PetSmart and Petco allow dogs in the store (along with some more unconventional pets, including pot-bellied pigs). While most pups will be happy to accompany their owners wherever they go, chances are your dog will have the best time at these stores – don’t be surprised if he gets in on the action, whether it’s sampling tasty treats, trying out doggie beds or begging for a new squeak-toy!
Hardware & Home Improvement
- Home Depot
- Tractor Supply Co.
Recognized across the U.S. as two of the most pet-friendly stores, Lowe’s and Home Depot have allowed pups to go shopping with their owners in certain locations for many years. Another popular retailer known for their wide variety of agricultural & livestock supplies, tools, and other gear, Tractor Supply Co. has taken their pet-friendly policy one step further: at some stores, they offer PetVet preventative clinics so dogs can get caught up on vaccinations while their owners shop.
Sporting Goods & Outdoor Retailers
- Bass Pro Shops
- Gander Mountain
- Academy Sports + Outdoor
Enjoying the great outdoors with the family pooch is one of life’s simple pleasures, so it’s a natural fit that many outdoor and sporting goods retailers also feature a pet-friendly policy. Whether going away for the weekend on a camping trip or hiking through the mountain trails, folks of all ages enjoy bringing their dog along for outdoor activities, so owners may want to consider picking up a Frisbee or a dog-safe ball during their next shopping excursion at a favorite sporting goods store!
Helpful Tip: For families planning to bring their dog on an outdoor excursion, be sure to create a check-list of things he’ll need to keep him safe and healthy throughout the trip. Some dog essentials for camping and outdoor activities include:
- Collapsible bowls for food & water
- Plenty of bottled clean water
- Collar & ID tags
- First aid kit
- Long-lasting treats
- Tie out/leash
- Extra towels
- Poop bags
- Sleeping bag/blankets
- Urban Outfitters
- The Gap
While it may not exactly be easy trying on a new skirt with the family pooch waiting impatiently outside the dressing room, sometimes it’s the only option. Luckily for both of you, quite a few clothing retailers allow dogs. Besides, unlike a snarky friend, a pup will never tell you if those jeans make you look like you’ve put on a few pounds. Helpful tip: for clothing stores located within a mall, be sure to call beforehand and check if the mall itself is also pet-friendly.
Cosmetics & Beauty Shops
- LUSH Cosmetics
- Bath & Body Works
Although dogs may not be terribly interested in the latest trends in eye-makeup, their dog moms might – and fortuitously, stores like Sephora and Bath & Body Works have pup-friendly policies that allow pooches to stroll along with their pet parents. Just be sure to keep an eye on curious canines – dogs explore their surroundings by sniffing and licking objects, and may be excited by the array of enticing fragrances and products all around them. Carrying some treats may be smart during such excursions!
- Hobby Lobby
With the rise in popularity in knitting and crafting in recent years, it’s no wonder that major craft-supply retailers such as Michaels and Hobby Lobby have extended their welcome-mat to canines, too. Dog owners will delight in shopping along with their four-legged pals, so why not make the trip fun for him, too? Consider crocheting smaller pups a cozy sweater for those chilly nights, or maybe create a scrapbook of your favorite dog pics throughout the years!
Luxury Department Stores
- Saks Fifth Avenue
Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, but dogs love a day of window-shopping, too – happily for aristocratic hounds across the nation, many high-end department stores allow owners to bring along their pampered pooch. Word to the wise: for upscale department stores located within a mall, call ahead to ensure the mall itself is equally pet-friendly.
- Foot Locker
- Apple Store
- Tiffany & Co.
Pups may not be sending greeting cards to their pals from the dog park any time soon, but it’s certainly helpful that specialty retail stores like Hallmark allow them to tag along with their guardians. Among the top 25 most dog-friendly stores across the U.S., specialty shops such as the Apple Store, Foot Locker and even iconic jewelry retailer Tiffany & Co. are included in the ranks.
These last five stores may not have made the top 25 list, but are still worth mentioning when considering pet-friendly retailers for shopping sprees with your fur baby:
Home Furnishing Stores
- West Elm
- Restoration Hardware
- Pottery Barn
Pet parents consider their pooch as part of the family, so it’s only natural to want to bring him along when shopping for a new couch or recliner! Fortunately for the décor-savvy dog lover, there are a number of high-end home furniture retailers that are pup-friendly, including West Elm, Pottery Barn, and Restoration Hardware, to name a few.
Helpful Tip: When shopping for a new sofa or loveseat, keep in mind the type of upholstery choices available – for homes with multiple dogs, opt for leather, microfiber and washable slipcover options in darker colors, as they may stand the test of time better than light colors and delicate, less durable materials.
- Half Price Books
- Barnes & Noble
Studies have shown that reading aloud to dogs not only strengthens the bond between humans and their furry companions, but can combat stress and anxiety while improving a person’s self-confidence and public speaking skills! With so many benefits, bringing one’s dog along to the bookstore seems like a win-win all around – and with big name retailers such as Barnes & Nobles and Half Price Books boasting pet-friendly policies, it makes quality time spent with a favorite canine even easier.
Shopping With Your Dog: A Useful Guide
Going shopping with one’s four-legged friend can be both convenient and fun; however, there are certain things to keep in mind when taking a canine companion on a trip to the store. Below, some helpful guidelines for dog owners:
- Always call ahead: Every store location has its own specific pet-friendly policies, so be sure to call in advance before visiting to ensure your fur baby won’t be turned away at the door.
- Do some research first: For pet parents concerned about the type of environment they’re planning on visiting, it’s best to go without one’s dog to get a lay of the land. Knowing what to expect beforehand will give owners a better idea of how the staff treats customers with pets, how leashed dogs are received by other customers, what sort of store policies are in place, what type of foot traffic/crowds to expect (and how to plan your visit accordingly), and ultimately, how ‘pet-friendly’ the store really is!
- Keep water and treats on hand: It may go without saying, but always be sure to have proper hydration on hand for dogs when traveling, even if it’s just a short trip around town. Collapsible dog bowls make providing fresh water a snap, and tasty treats in your handbag, backpack or coat pocket are a great way to reward dogs for good behavior in social settings (and keep him from eating things he shouldn’t).
- Teach him socialization skills: Shopping with your pup is an excellent opportunity to socialize your dog and introduce him to new locations while teaching him how to interact with people; however, it’s important to adhere to some general rules of thumb (see next tips).
- Always keep him on a leash: Dogs must be properly secured before entering any store. Although a leash is adequate for most canines, in some cases, a carrier might be suitable for smaller breeds. In other instances, a dog harness may be a better choice; a vet or licensed dog trainer can help determine the best option for your pet.
- Keep his vaccinations up-to-date: Most stores require that pets be up-to-date on their vaccinations; for dog owners with questions about specific pet-friendly store policies and regulations, check their website beforehand or call ahead.
- Go for a test run: Even though some dogs may do just fine without training, other pooches may develop canine anxiety during shopping trips. When planning a dog’s first outing at a store, try walking him in an area with heavy pedestrian traffic beforehand and see how he reacts without the added obstacle of store shelving. Once he’s ready to proceed, a pet store is the perfect introduction to indoor shopping; with its familiar smells, he’ll have less to acclimate to. Another tip: try visiting stores during off-peak hours to avoid crowds, which will make the experience less stressful for everyone involved. After observing a dog’s comfort level, owners can determine if taking their beloved pet shopping will be the best option moving ahead.
- Watch his behavioral cues: Once dog owners are out and about, they should be prepared for strangers to come up to their dog and possibly interact with him – and also be mindful of his reaction. While some dogs love attention and are open to new people petting them, others are shy or wary – so knowing a dog’s social behaviors and cues is essential when engaged in a public setting, such as a retail store or shopping mall. Experts recommend taking dogs for a long walk outside before bringing them indoors, especially before lengthy shopping excursions. For owners who observe overly- stressed, anxious or aggressive behavior in their dog, remove him from the situation as swiftly as possible, even if it means cutting a shopping excursion short.
For pet parents who feel overwhelmed or inexperienced when it comes to keeping their dog calm while shopping, there are always group training classes available, as well as the services of a professional dog trainer. Remember, as with any type of training, practice makes perfect – the more a dog is exposed to public settings (both indoors and outdoors), the better acclimated he’ll become!
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“65 The Most Friendly Stores in America, Where You Can Shop With Your Pup.” Wireless Dog Fence, May 24, 2018, https://wirelessdogfence.xyz/dog-friendly-stores-usa/. Accessed April 27, 2019.
“35 Stores Where Your Dog Can Shop With You.” HealthyPets® BLOG, (no publish date), https://blog.healthypets.com/informative/35-stores-where-your-dog-can-shop-with-you. Accessed April 27, 2019.
Harleman, James. “’Can I Bring My Dog?’ The Most Dog-Friendly Stores Across America.” Rover.com, (no publish date), https://www.rover.com/blog/dog-friendly-stores-across-america/. Accessed April 27, 2019.