10 Pet-friendly Stores and What to Know Before You Go

Published June 2, 2022
owner holding dog in pet store

Visiting a pet-friendly store is becoming increasingly popular. There are many benefits to visiting stores that allow pets for both you and your dog. Fortunately, many major retailers -- including pet-friendly hardware stores like Lowes and Home Depot, and department stores such as Nordstrom and Marshalls -- have created a pet-friendly shopping experience, so you and your best friend can shop together.

dog in basket at store

Stores That Allow Dogs

Fortunately, many stores are beginning to adopt pet-friendly policies. Dogs truly are man's best friend, and many organizations are seeing the value in bringing dogs with you to shop. No one wants to leave their dog at home while they are out running errands, especially if you're going to be gone for a long time. Keep in mind that some jurisdictions restrict pet entrance to businesses regardless of store policy, so call ahead or ask in-person if you aren't sure. The following stores currently have pet-friendly policies:

Bass Pro Shops/Cabela's

Both of these outdoor recreation-focused stores are owned by the same company, and in most cases, both Bass Pro Shop and Cabela's retail locations allow dogs to come into the store, as long as they are on-leash or in a carrier. Local restrictions may apply, because some Bass Pro Shops and Cabela's locations have restaurants located inside the store, so be sure to ask first if you are in doubt.

Home Depot

Home Depot is a home improvement store where you can purchase garden supplies, tools, and appliances. And yes, pets are allowed in most stores! However, pet policy is decided at the store level, so be sure to check before assuming it is OK to bring your dog in. Pets must be leashed or in a carrier at all times while on the sales floor unless they are service animals. Some locations even have dog parks where you can unleash your furry friend during your shopping trip.

L.L. Bean

You can take your dog shopping at L.L. Bean! The company welcomes dogs of all breeds and sizes on the premises, so long as they're leashed or in a carrier. The only exception is their main store in Freeport, Maine, due to their food court being located inside the store.

Lowe's Home Improvement

Lowes store front

Lowe's Home Improvement welcomes all dogs who are well-mannered and on-leash. Unless your dog is a service dog, they are not permitted off-leash, though.

Marshalls, HomeGoods, and T.J. Maxx

Marshalls welcomes pets of all shapes and sizes, with the exception of the food court. So do HomeGoods and T.J. Maxx, which are all owned by the same company. Service animals are always welcome, but they ask that you call ahead if your pet is coming along so we can make sure they're comfortable in their stores. Individual stores may have their own policy, so calling ahead is recommended.

Michaels Craft Store

Michaels is a craft store with locations all over the United States. You can find everything you need for your next project, or if you're just looking for something fun to do on a Saturday afternoon. And if you have a dog or cat, Michaels is one of the best places in town to get exactly what they need because they're welcome!

Michaels has many locations where dogs and cats are welcome: inside stores (on leash), shopping carts (in pet carriers), and outdoor areas such as parking lots and sidewalks (on leash). Pets must be well-behaved and leashed at all times and they must not harass other customers.

Nordstrom

You can bring your pet to the majority of Nordstrom stores. Pets are not allowed in food courts or restaurants, but they are permitted in most other areas of the store. However, pets are not allowed at Nordstrom Rack stores and must be on a leash or in a carrier when brought inside. Service animals are not considered pets and are permitted in all stores.

Petco

petco store front

National pet retailer chain Petco provides a safe and fun environment for your pets to socialize and play while you shop. Dogs must be leashed and under control at all times, with no exceptions. Cats must be in a carrier, or otherwise confined and under control while on the premises. Other pets, such as ferrets or hamsters, are also permitted, but must also be caged or confined in a manner that prevents them from escaping.

PetSmart

If you're looking for a pet store that welcomes dogs and cats, PetSmart is the place. In most of its stores, dogs are welcome during regular business hours. Many PetSmart stores also have a pet hotel in many locations where their dogs can stay in comfort while their owners shop or run errands. These hotels also offer grooming services (including bathing), training classes, veterinary services, and even adoption services.

Tractor Supply Co.

This retail chain offers pet care products, livestock supplies, home improvement products, hardware, and much more. Tractor Supply Co. is pet-friendly, and dogs many enter as long as they are leashed and under control, or confined to a carrier.

Stores That Don't Allow Dogs

Several major retail chains do not welcome dogs and other pets into their stores, unless they are specifically designated as service animals providing assistance to disabled people. Costco, Sams Club, Target, and WalMart are a few of the major retailers who do not allow pets. Also, most grocery store chains, restaurants, and pharmacies restrict or prohibit pet entry.

What to Bring

Prior to hopping in the car with your dog, make sure you've got all the essentials:

  • A leash for walks and car rides.
  • Treats for training and rewarding good behavior.
  • Water for hydration, especially if your dog is a big drinker.
  • Poop bags to clean up after your pooch's business (and not leave the problem on the lawn!).
  • A towel or two so that you can dry off any wet paws before entering the store.

It's also important to bring along some basic first aid supplies, just in case anything happens while traveling with them.

Before Visiting a Store

Before you bring your dog to the store, ask yourself if your dog's behavior is up to par. You don't want to bring along any unruly dogs that might misbehave at the store or exhibit poor manners in public. It's important to be honest with yourself about what kind of behavior you can expect from your dog during a trip like this.

Your dog should be able to sit on command and should not have a tendency to jump up. Excessive barking can also lead to getting kicked out of the store or ruining the pet policy currently in place for other dogs. Be respectful, and try to give your hosts the respect they deserve.

If your dog is elderly or small, consider bringing something to carry them in. A dog carrier, stroller, or even your arms are all options for carrying your pup if they need a break from walking around the store. Also, make sure they are securely fastened or enclosed in your carrier, to prevent them from jumping out and getting hurt.

Plan Ahead for Accidents

It goes without saying that if your dog is not potty trained, they should not visit a store. Make sure to give your dog a chance to relieve themselves (in an appropriate spot outside) and clean up any mess before entering. If you aren't sure how your pet will behave inside, it's best to do a test run and give them plenty of time to go to the bathroom beforehand.

While you are in the store, watch your dog carefully. Be aware that dogs tend to be nose-driven: if they smell another dog's pheromones from an old accident, they are likely to try marking the spot, which can become a headache for staff. If your dog has an accident while inside, clean it up and inform staff so they can deal with it and remove any lingering odors.

Pay Attention to Your Pet

Make sure your pet is well-behaved, socialized, and trained before going into the store. You don't want them running around all over the place while you're reviewing products. Also, keep in mind that some areas of stores may be more suitable than others. Try to stay away from areas where there are a lot of people walking around, like shoe departments or clothing sections where things could get knocked over easily by an excited dog.

If you do bring your pet along with you, there are some things that can make the experience better for both of you. Before visiting a store, call ahead to see if they allow animals inside or not. This way, when it comes time for shopping with your canine companion, everything will go smoothly without any surprises or delays.

Some dogs aren't used to being around so many unfamiliar smells. If this sounds like your dog, try bringing them into only one section of the store at first, and try not to spend a significant amount of time there. It's OK to work up to a full shopping experience with your pet. Carefully observe their behavior, and let them be your guide. Start slowly, working on their socialization as you visit retailers and shop together, and you'll be a pro shopping team in no time.

Call Ahead When in Doubt

It's not hard to find a pet-friendly store or a business that welcomes you and your dog into their establishment. However, it can sometimes be difficult to determine if your particular store is pet-friendly. It's easy to go on the internet and search for a list of pet-friendly stores, but often the information isn't accurate or up-to-date.

If you don't know whether a store welcomes dogs, there are a few obvious things you can look for to help you decide. First, check their website or social media accounts to see if they have any information about their dog-friendly policies. If not, call the store and ask them directly. You might also try asking an employee or browsing through reviews of the store on other websites, such as Yelp or Google Places.

Get Ready for a Shopping Adventure

Once you get the hang of it, visiting a pet-friendly store or going on a shopping spree with your pet by your side is a rewarding experience for you both. Go slow and build up experience, and learn to read your dog's cues to make sure everyone is safe and you both get the most out of the experience. Displaying good canine citizenship and consideration for other shoppers and store staff is essential, and will help ensure you are welcomed back on your next visit. When you are both ready, you and your pet will enjoy a bonding experience and rewarding socialization on your trip!

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10 Pet-friendly Stores and What to Know Before You Go