For many pet lovers, bringing a furry friend along on a shopping trip would be the perfect way to spend a day. While many big-name chain stores do have a "service dogs only" policy, you may be surprised to know a number of them will, in fact, allow you to shop with your shih-Tzu or browse with your bulldog.
Please keep in mind that many of these stores only welcome pets on a limited basis. In some cases, the decision to allow pets is left to individual store managers. This means that, while one chain location may welcome your pooch, another may have a no-pets policy. In other cases, a stand-alone chain location may allow pets, while a mall location may have to comply with that mall's no-pets policy.
Rules and policies change all the time from store to store and from location to location. It's important to contact any store you plan to visit with your pet to ensure it will in fact allow your pet in - even if you have brought him into that store before.
Out of respect to the establishment and its patrons, any time your pet visits a store, he should be leashed and under your control at all times. Some stores ask that pets ride in shopping carts and be kept securely and tightly leashed, and some ask they be contained in a carrier. Make sure you are aware of the store's specific policies before visiting.
Several department store chains around the country have been known to welcome pets. Banana Republic is notably dog-friendly, with some locations offering treats to canine visitors. The Gap and Old Navy, which are owned by the same company as Banana Republic, have also been known to allow dogs. Bloomingdales, Saks Fifth Avenue, TJ Maxx and Marshall's allow dogs in at least some of their locations, and Nordstrom has welcomed pooches through its doors for over 20 years. Bed Bath and Beyond goes above and beyond at some of its locations by not only allowing pets, but providing specialty dog carts for them to ride in.
Perhaps not surprisingly, both Petco and PetSmart celebrate their doggie clientele, and leashed, well-behaved dogs are welcome throughout each store at every location. Some locations even offer doggie day care for shoppers.
Home Improvement Stores
Lowe's Home Improvement and Home Depot are both well-known for allowing pets. However, the degree to which pets are welcome varies widely from location to location. It's important to check with each individual store before bringing your dog with you to help you select your lumber or bathroom fixtures.
Tractor Supply Company, a well-known agricultural and farming supply store, welcomes leashed, friendly dogs at most of its locations - but that's what you might expect from a store that supports pet adoptions and holds an annual Pet Appreciation Week. Bass Pro Shops and Cabela's - both of which are hunting, fishing and all-around outdoor authorities - also allow pets at many of their locations (a fact that's not well-known, but also not surprising).
Michael's Craft Store has a reputation for being dog-friendly. While not every location may welcome your pooch, some of them will allow him to ride in the cart as you browse.
Many local chains or mom-and-pop stores work to develop personal relationships with their clientele. They also tend to have a lot of discretion and autonomy when it comes to whether or not they will allow pets in their establishments. Call ahead to your favorite local retailer. They may surprise you by saying your pet is welcome, especially if he's small enough to fit in a carrier or shopping cart.
TripsWithPets.com is a premier online pet-friendly travel guide providing online reservations at more than 30,000 pet-friendly hotels and accommodations across the U.S. and Canada. When planning a trip, pet parents go to TripsWithPets.com for detailed, up-to-date information on hotel pet policies and pet amenities. TripsWithPets.com also features airline and car rental pet policies, pet-friendly activities, a user-friendly search-by-route option, as well as pet travel gear.
Author Kim Salerno is the president and founder of TripsWithPets.com. She founded the pet travel site in 2003 and is an expert in the field of pet travel. Her mission is to ensure pets are welcome, happy and safe in their travels.