Does Target Allow Dogs?

Target is one of the most loved big-box stores in America. Considering their mascot is Spot the dog, you would assume that the store is dog-friendly. We are here to let you in on all you need to know about Target and its policy towards furry companions, service animals, and more.

If you are looking for a quick answer, then no, Target does not allow dogs or any other companion animals inside of their stores, however, there are exceptions.

Let’s get further into detail on the matter below.

Is Target Dog Friendly?

Target is a family-oriented store and they sell many pet-related products, consumer companions are not welcome inside the store. You are free to tie your pets outside the store away from the doors or leave them in your car, but they can’t be brought inside regardless of their size.

Service animals such as guide dogs are the only animals allowed inside of the Target store with their human companion. It is important to note that a service animal must be certified as such in order to qualify. Support animals do not qualify as service animals. Service animals are those that assist owners who suffer from life-limiting conditions such as deafness or blindness.

Take Note

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines a service animal as "any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability."

Trained service dogs don’t go off-leash, bark, get antsy, wander off, knock things off shelves, jump on people, sniff, urinate, play or fight with other dogs, or grab food off tables.

Instead, service dogs focus on their handler at all times, have a stable temperament, walk nicely on the leash, remain quiet, ignore distractions, not sniff around and are generally quiet and professional throughout the shopping trip.

Can I Hold My Puppy In a Store?

In most cases, no dogs will be allowed inside of a store unless they are certified service animals. This includes puppies held in your arms, bag, or carrier. In some instances, stores such as pet stores or smaller mom-and-pop locations will allow pets inside of the store.

State and local laws have strict rules regarding animals in stores that house food, medications, and other specific sensitive consumer goods.

What is The Law Regarding Dogs in Stores?

Grocery stores such as Target and Walmart are legally obligated to bar pets from their premises. The Food and Drug Administration’s Food Guide is pretty clear in regards to live animals being able to roam in any establishment that serves food to the public. This includes grocery stores, restaurants, and coffee shops. The law is designed to keep the public safe and to prevent contamination of the food supply.

Anything caught in the paws or fur of a dog can contaminate the food or water. Their urine, feces, or drool also has the positional cause contamination which can cause illness in humans. While most pet owners take care of their dogs, by their very nature they are unsanitary and must not come in contact with food prep areas.

A pitbull service dog wearing a service vest dog

How Do You Go Shopping With a Dog?

While most people will leave their dogs at home while they hit the shops, it can be fun for them to tag along. If you are considering taking your furry companion along with you on your next shopping excursion, we have some tips that will make your trip easier.

1. Make Sure Your Pet is Socially Trained

Your dog may get along with you just fine, but if they are not well trained and social, they should not go to the store. It is important that your dog is socialized and well trained. This will ensure that when you do take them out shopping with you, there won't be any behavioral issues. Social dogs are able to tolerate a wide variety of sounds, smells, and interactions without having an adverse reaction.

2. Call Ahead and Shop in Pet-Friendly Stores

Most stores are not open to dogs roaming their aisles with their owners. However, there is a surprising number of locations that do offer consumers a chance to bring their pets. We have a list of some of the most popular shops that are pet-friendly further down in our post.

In general, it is a good idea to call ahead to make sure that where you plan to visit is open to canine companions.

3. Make Sure Your Dog is Ready to Go Shopping

Before you head to the store with your dog, make sure they are well-rested and fed. This will ensure that they are happy and in a good mood before being exposed to highly social situations. It is also important that you take your dog to the potty before entering the store. The last thing you want is to get stuck cleaning up a mess in the middle of aisle #7.

4. Pay Attention to Your Pet

It is important to pay close attention to your pet once you arrive at the store. This will allow you to see if your dog is experiencing any stress due to the visit, or if they need to relieve themselves during your trip. Keeping an eye on your pet is also critical when there are crowds and small children around that may approach them without your permission.

Start small, with less crowded areas and smaller stores when you first start taking your pet to the store. This will allow them to get used to being in commercial locations while also teaching them the right way to behave while you are shopping.

What if Pets Aren’t Allowed?

Phoning ahead will help keep you from running into roadblocks, but on the off chance that you were misinformed, there are options. You can always go back home, but if you don’t want to waste the trip, make use of your leash.

Most stores have a bike rack or other stationary post near their entrance. If the location is safe, away from the entrance doors, and not near the road, you can tie your dog up for a quick 15-20 minute shopping trip. Make sure that your dog has plenty of shade if it happens to be a hot day. During in-climate weather, you should avoid leaving your pet tied up while you shop, however.

Is Walmart Dog Friendly?

Walmart is a very popular big-box store that draws in crowds wherever they are located. They provide a wide range of consumer goods from TVs and electronics to groceries and cooked meals. A trip to the store generally involves the whole family and for some, they may want to bring their dog along as well.

Unfortunately, dogs and other animals are not allowed inside of the store regardless of how well behaved they may be. The US health department has very strict rules in place limiting the presence of animals in locations that sell food and medication. This is to prevent contaminations as opposed to being against animals.

Here’s what they had to say:

Walmart welcomes service animals as defined by the ADA in our stores, and we recognize the important role they play in many of our customers’ lives. We do not allow pets in our stores.

There you have it.

Similar to Target, certified services animals are allowed to accompany their human owner during their store visit. 

Is TJ Maxx Dog Friendly?

TJ Maxx is a great place to get a deal on some of your favorite brands. If you are a dog owner and plan to spend a while shopping, consider taking your pet along for the ride. While many big stores don't allow dogs, TJ Maxx is one that is pet friendly. They allow consumers to bring their well-behaved small to medium pets in the store with them while they shop. The only exception is if local laws specifically prohibit dogs or other animals in the store.

This rule is generally up to the manager of each location, so it is a good idea to call ahead before bringing Fido along on an extended shopping spree. The open doors rule doesn’t only apply to dogs. Customers are allowed to bring their bird, cat, or even their ferret along for the ride as long as they are well behaved. Also, all service animals are allowed in the store regardless of manager discretion.

Stores That Allow Dogs 2022

A small dog in supermarket trolley in a grocery store

Companies have started to realize just how many new customers they can attract by opening their doors to well-behaved pets. More locations than ever have started allowing owners to bring their medium and small-sized dogs in addition to other behaved animals. So, are you tired of leaving your loyal companion at home while you shop? If so, consider visiting these stores with your dog in tow.

  • Petco
  • Pottery Barn
  • Best Buy - some locations
  • Home Depot
  • Homegoods
  • The Apple Store
  • Nordstrom
  • Anthropologie
  • Ann Taylor/LOFT
  • Tiffany & Co.
  • Bass Pro Shops
  • Bebe
  • Old Navy
  • Saks Fifth Avenue
  • Barnes & Noble
  • Bloomingdale's
  • Bath & Body Works
  • Sephora
  • LUSH
  • Macy's
  • Marshalls
  • Petsmart
  • Lowes
  • Michael's

There are many more stores in each local area that offer pet-centric services for their regular shoppers.

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