There’s no doubt about it. Dogs are an important part of so many people’s lives. More and more of us treat our pets as dependable companions. Therefore, it’s not uncommon to see people take their dogs with them just about everywhere. This includes eating out and shopping.
The only problem is that some stores and businesses have a different dog policy to the next. It can be hard to know whether you’re allowed into a store, even after reading their pet policy. This is because some are not so clear to understand.
One store that many of us frequent regularly is Walmart. People who took their dogs into Walmart stores are at risk of being thrown out, depending on the store’s manager. Unless you have a service dog, most stores have some sort of policy regarding pets. However, most stores generally leave it to the manager to decide whether they are dog-friendly premises or not. But what about Walmart?
To find out whether Walmart is dog-friendly, we decided to do some detective work. After talking to some local Walmart employees, we found that Walmart does not allow dogs inside their stores unless it is a service dog to assist someone with a disability.
Just like health and safety policies, pet policies should be fully respected. If you do try and enter Walmart with your dog, you may be challenged to prove that your pooch is in fact a service dog.
Let’s look into Walmart’s dog policy in more detail below.
Are dogs allowed in Walmart?
Some Walmart managers may allow the odd dog into their store. Some have no qualms about letting a customer peruse the aisles accompanied by their furry best friend. However, this is against company policy.
Other customers have the right to report a customer with their dog inside Walmart to store management which can lead to the dog owner being ejected from the store.
The same rules apply for all dogs except service dogs. This includes a small dog that you may carry or push in a stroller, an emotional support dog, or even a puppy.
Why aren’t dogs allowed in Walmart?
While service animals are allowed into Walmart stores (for obvious reasons), there are also some valid arguments why all other dogs are prohibited from entering. One of the main reasons is down to health and contamination risks.
There are certain health codes in place for premises that sell and serve food. These codes forbid any animals from entering the store. The FDA’s food service codes state that animals are unsanitary and, therefore, a risk to health inside stores where food is served or sold.
While health is the biggest concern, there are some other reasons why Walmart bans dogs. These include:
- The possibility of some dogs having fleas or ticks
- Some individuals are fearful of dogs
- Some people are allergic to dog hair so shoppers could suffer a reaction
- The possibility that dogs can contaminate Walmart food
- Not all dog owners can properly and safely control their dogs in a constricted environment
- A dog can become a hazard in the busy aisles of Walmart, even if they are leashed
- The possibility of even the best-trained dogs making a mess on the store’s floor
Walmart’s dog policy errs on the side of caution. To prevent any accidents or health issues, the company has implemented this policy to ensure the safety of its staff and customers.
Why are service dogs allowed in Walmart?
Service dogs are professionally trained to deal with social situations and help assist their owner who may have certain disabilities. Service dogs should always be easily identifiable. They usually wear a fluorescent or brightly colored jacket and the owner should have documentation to prove that the dog is a service animal.
Of course, a service dog is still a dog. They carry the same risks of germs as other dogs. They even have the same behaviors at times but there are some huge differences between these trained canines and other dogs.
For instance, service dogs have been specially trained so that they do not defecate or urinate indoors. We understand that most dogs are trained this way but this is not taken into account in many store policies. One key difference is that service dogs are trained to remain calm under pressure or stress and not attack any people.
This training makes service dogs a lower risk when entering stores such as Walmart. Then there is the fact that their sole purpose is to help a disabled person shop. While many of us think we rely on our pets for joy and comfort, those with service dogs rely on them for everyday tasks.
What is the Walmart dog policy?
If you’re still unsure on whether Walmart is dog-friendly or not, here is a sign regarding the latest pet policy. You may see this policy on show outside most Walmart stores.
Service animals welcome. No Pets
If you see an un-trained pet where food is sold, contact your local health department.
- Non-service animals are not permitted in grocery stores under applicable food safety regulations
- Service animals are individually trained to do work to perform tasks for a person with disabilities
- Comfort or emotional support animals are not service animals
We apologize for any inconvenience
We think it’s quite clear to see from this policy that no animals should be seen entering or leaving Walmart unless it is a service animal.
Am I allowed to take my emotional support dog to Walmart?
One confusing aspect of Walmart’s dog policy is whether emotional support dogs are allowed in or not. Some Walmart managers are much laxer with the policy than others and even let people carry their dogs down different aisles.
The nationwide pet policy clearly states that emotional support dogs are not allowed in Walmart. These are not the same as service dogs. A spokesperson for Walmart said,
“We welcome service animals in our stores and serve customers that rely on them as part of their daily lives.”
This came after a sign was placed outside a Walmart store in 2019 stating that only service dogs were allowed in the store but no other animal was.
Some argue that emotional support dogs should be allowed in, however. One Facebook user argued,
“PTSD dogs are emotional support and are service dogs as well! The ADA does not require service animals to wear a vest, ID tag, or specific harness. Also, service animals are not required to be certified, nor are they required to have proof of training or a license. The Americans with Disabilities Act was written this way to protect the privacy of people with disabilities.”
Therefore, the case for emotional support animals to be let into Walmart is supported by many. Many people rely on these animals to get through each day and not having them by their side in social situations can lead to possible anxiety attacks.
On the other hand, some love Walmart’s dog policy.
“I think the Walmart dog policy is great. All service animals should have a vest, all others that do not have one should be asked to leave. Real service animals wear vests, indicating their main focus is to the owner and bothering the animal makes it lose focus on the owner resulting in harm to the owner.”
Whether you are for or against Walmart’s dog policy, the fact remains that all dogs except service dogs are not allowed into its stores.
Is it okay to take my puppy to Walmart?
The short answer is, no. You can not bring your puppy into Walmart. It doesn’t matter how small or cute he or she is. The policy states that it is only dog-friendly for service animals.
What about taking my dog into Walmart in a stroller?
You may have seen people using dog strollers in recent years. This has led many to believe it’s okay to take their dog into Walmart, as long as it is in a stroller.
This simply isn’t the case. According to Walmart’s pet policy, you are prohibited from bringing your dog in a stroller at all times. We will repeat this again: only service dogs are permitted to enter Walmart stores.
We understand why some dog owners may feel this is unfair in the case of a stroller. One argument is that dogs in strollers are unable to make a mess on the store’s floor. They may not scare people who are afraid of dogs either. Furthermore, the risk of them contaminating any Walmart food is significantly reduced due to being secure inside a stroller.
On the other side of the coin, people are still likely to suffer reactions if they are allergic to dogs and the likelihood of food contamination is still possible.
Is it okay to carry my dog in Walmart?
Even if your dog is in your arms and away from other people, this doesn’t mean you can break the rules. No matter who you are or how small your dog is, you will most likely be asked to leave the store if you carry your dog with you.
And don’t try to smuggle your dog in either! Some people have been known to carry their dogs in a bag or under their coat. If this is the case, we wonder if these people should be allowed to own a dog in the first place!
Is it okay to take a small dog into Walmart?
No matter what size your dog is. Whether he or she is a gigantic Bernese mountain dog or a cute little pug, you are not allowed to enter Walmart with a dog. Rules are rules!
As Walmart’s dog policy clearly states, no dog of any size or stature is allowed into the store unless they are a service animal.
And don’t try to disguise your small dog as a service dog. Smaller dogs are not usually service or guide dogs so if you see a small dog in a Walmart store, it shouldn’t be there in the first place.
Dog policies regarding other US stores
Just because Walmart has a ban on dogs entering its stores doesn’t mean other high-profile national chains share the same policy.
Here are some of the animal policies for the most popular high-profile stores in the US:
- Walgreens – This store’s policy is very similar to Walmarts in that it only allows service dogs inside.
- Lowes & Home Depot – Because no food is prepared or sold at these stores, Lowes and Home Depot do not have to follow strict food guidelines. Therefore, they do not have bans on dogs entering their stores.
- Petsmart – You can probably guess this one. Yes, you are allowed to take your furry four-legged friend into Petsmart. In terms of socializing, this could be the best day of the week for your pup.
- Barnes & Noble – The policy seems to change from store to store. To be sure, you should contact the store before you go to ensure it is ok to take your pooch with you.
Shopping with your dog
If you do decide to go shopping with your dog in a dog-friendly store, you should make some preparations first.
If you have a small dog, you should consider using a soft carrier such as a sling carrier bag, a portable backpack, or a carrying case to ensure they are secure at all times.
Bigger dogs require a comfortable collar and leash. The leash should also be short so your dog doesn’t stray from you. Always make sure you are in control of your dog. Practice with your dog in advance so they become used to certain noises that come with stores such as loud sounds and children shouting. Remember, loud noises can intimidate your dog just as much as your dog can intimidate others.
So, now you know. Unless you have a service dog, you are not allowed to take any dogs into any Walmart store.