Are Dogs Allowed in Target? Target’s Pet Policy Uncovered

If your dog is your best friend, then you may want to take them everywhere with you. However, your dog isn’t allowed everywhere you want to go. While there are a number of stores that do allow pets inside, many businesses do not.

Today, we’ll be focusing on Target in particular. We’ll tell you everything you need to know about Target’s pet policy. We’ll also share information about other stores that are and are not pet-friendly. So, does Target allow dogs? Let’s find out.

Are Dogs Allowed in Target?

The simple answer is no; dogs are not allowed in Target. Target’s official policy is that no animals of any kind are allowed in the store. Of course, that doesn’t mean you will never see any dogs in a Target store.

Service dogs are exempt from Target’s no-pets policy because service dogs are not considered to be pets. Some Target locations may also turn a blind eye to well-behaved dogs, though you should never assume this to be the case. If you need to make a Target run, leave Fido at home.

Is Target Pet-Friendly?

So, Target doesn’t allow dogs, but what about other pets? Unfortunately, Target is not at all pet-friendly. You cannot bring your cat, bird, hamster, horse, rabbit, snake, or any other animal into Target.

Again, some Target locations may be more lenient and turn a blind eye to well-behaved pets, but you should not count on it. It would be for the best to leave any pets at home.

Are Service Dogs Allowed in Target?

Though pet dogs are not allowed in Target, service dogs are. This is because service dogs are legally considered to be working animals and not pets. Service dogs allow people with disabilities to lead more normal lives and do things they may not otherwise be able to do without the assistance of their dogs.

As such, service dogs are protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA is a federal law that supersedes all state laws. It states that service dogs are allowed to accompany their users anywhere that the general public is allowed to go.

Since the general public is very much allowed to roam the aisles of Target freely, service dogs are, too. However, even service dogs must be on a leash while in public unless doing so would inhibit them from performing the work they need to do for their user.

What Is a Service Dog?

It’s important to understand what a service dog is because it is different from a pet dog and an emotional support animal (ESA). Service dogs are defined by the ADA as “dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities.”

We’ve all heard of guide dogs for people who are blind, but there are many different types of service dogs. Psychiatric support dogs help people suffering from mental health disabilities like PTSD, anxiety, and depression.

Medical alert dogs can alert someone when they are about to have a seizure or when their blood sugar is too low. Hearing dogs can let deaf people know when others are approaching from behind or when alarms are set off (both alarm clocks as well as fire alarms).

There are many tasks service dogs can do in general, such as reminding someone to take medication, fetching objects, carrying objects, opening doors, and more. As you can see, service dogs are workers with very important jobs to do!

What Kind of Service Dogs Are Allowed In Target?

All types of service dogs, including psychiatric service dogs, are protected by the ADA. As such, all types of service dogs are allowed in Target stores. It would be impossible to list every single type of service dog, but here are some examples of service dogs that are allowed in Target:

  • Guide dogs
  • Diabetic alert dogs
  • Seizure alert dogs
  • Autism support dogs
  • Psychiatric service dogs
  • Mobility assistance dogs
  • Hearing assistance dogs
  • Allergy detection dogs

golden guide dog in red harness

Can Target Turn Away a Service Dog?

Legally, Target is supposed to let service dogs into their stores. The only reason Target could turn away a service dog would be if it posed a serious threat to the health or safety of other customers.

For example, if a service dog was acting aggressively and snapping at other shoppers, Target could kick them out. Similarly, if a service dog was not housebroken and was defecating or urinating in the store, Target would have the right to remove it.

Unfortunately, many people are not aware of the laws surrounding service dogs and will unlawfully prohibit service dogs from entering their businesses. They often try to ask for proof of a service dog’s registration, but there is no federal service dog registration in existence. Service dogs do not need to be registered, nor do they need to wear a vest or any other type of ID.

Furthermore, there are only two questions businesses are allowed to ask service dog users: “Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability?” and “What work or tasks has the dog been trained to perform?”

Asking any further questions is unlawful and invades the privacy of the service dog user. Businesses are also not allowed to ask that the dog demonstrate service tasks.

Does Target Allow Therapy Dogs?

People sometimes get confused about whether or not a therapy dog is a type of service dog. Therapy dogs are typically friendly, well-behaved dogs that perform volunteer work with their owners. They may visit nursing homes, hospitals, or even schools.

Their purpose is ultimately to brighten people’s days. Petting a therapy dog can help relieve stress and even loneliness. Since dogs are very loving and humans love dogs in return, simply being around a dog and petting them can bring someone a sense of peace and happiness.

Though therapy dogs often have to pass tests before they can visit different places, they are not service dogs. The training therapy dogs undergo is meant to ensure they are calm and well-mannered. After all, it could be disastrous for a large dog to jump on an older person in a nursing home.

Unlike service dogs, therapy dogs do not learn specific tasks. While service dogs might learn to remind someone to take their medication or alert someone to an impending seizure, therapy dogs are not taught anything of the sort. Instead, they simply must be well-behaved, friendly, and comfortable with being touched anywhere on their body so that they can safely visit people in hospitals, nursing homes, and schools.

Even though therapy dogs are trained to be well-behaved and friendly, they are still not allowed in Target stores. Target will still view therapy dogs as pets, and since therapy dogs are not service dogs, they have no legal protection. Target is within their right to deny entry to your therapy dog. So, unfortunately, you will have to leave your therapy dog at home.

If you really want to bring your therapy dog to Target, perhaps you could call your local store and ask if their workers could benefit from a visit from a therapy dog. After that, maybe they’ll let you do your shopping with your dog in tow.

Does Target Allow Emotional Support Animals?

Though Target does allow service dogs, it does not allow Emotional Support Animals into its stores. Emotional Support Animals are not offered any federal protections, so stores do not have to allow them in.

Emotional Support Animals are often prescribed to patients struggling with their mental health. This could be PTSD, anxiety, depression, feelings of loneliness, or other issues. Though they are prescribed by doctors, they aren’t the same as service dogs.

Emotional Support Animals don’t have to be dogs; they can be any animal. Their purpose is to provide comfort through their presence. Some people find a sense of self-worth through taking care of a pet, and others find petting and cuddling with pets to relieve anxiety.

Because the mere presence of an ESA can provide benefits, these animals do not need any specific training like service dogs do. Though ESAs can provide life-changing comfort to individuals who need it, they do not perform any work or tasks for their owners.

Because these animals are not highly trained like service dogs are, they are not afforded the same privileges. As such, Target is completely within its rights to deny entry to ESAs. If you don’t want to leave the house without your emotional support animal, consider training them to be a psychiatric service dog.

This type of service dog helps people with mental health disabilities. They can provide deep pressure therapy, body blocking while in public, and much more. U.S. Service Animals provides online psychiatric service dog training for those who are interested.

Are Dogs Allowed in Target if They Avoid the Grocery Section?

One of the reasons Target doesn’t allow dogs in their stores is because they sell groceries. Allowing animals around food products could lead to hygiene, sanitation, and food safety issues.

Knowing this, some dog owners may be wondering, “Would it be okay for my dog to enter Target as long as we stay away from the food?” Unfortunately, the answer is still no. Target does not have any exceptions to its no-pets policy.

Service dogs are not pets, so they are allowed in Target. They are even allowed to accompany their handlers throughout the grocery section so long as they are under the handler’s control and are potty trained. Because service dogs perform tasks that are necessary to the user, they must be able to accompany them everywhere.
a border collie holding carrots

Does Target Allow Dogs On a Leash?

If you’re hoping to bring your dog to Target with you, you may be wondering if it’s okay as long as your pup is kept controlled via a leash. Unfortunately, even when leashed, dogs are still not allowed in Target.

Just because a dog is on a leash does not mean it cannot do things like defecate or urinate. While their owner is busy filling their cart, a leashed dog could still possibly grab something off a low shelf and chew on it. A leashed dog can still bark at other customers. A leashed dog can still escape its handler by pulling hard enough or slipping out of its collar.

Of course, your dog may genuinely be a perfectly behaved pup, but for Target stores, it’s a lot easier to just say “no pets” than to allow pets and have to deal with customers who do bring in poorly trained pooches.

That said, service dogs are allowed in Target while on a leash. In fact, even the ADA states that service dogs in public places must be kept leashed, harnessed, or tethered so long as doing so does not prevent them from performing their work.

Does Target Allow Dogs in Strollers or Carts?

Target does not allow dogs in their stores, even if they are kept in a stroller or cart. As lovable as dogs are, not all of them are perfectly behaved. Even though a dog in a stroller or cart may be contained in such a way as to be unable to lash out at other customers, it can still be a nuisance just by barking.

Target does not allow dogs in their stores, period. The only exception is if the dog is a service dog. Service dogs are allowed to accompany their handlers anywhere in the store, and they don’t have to be kept in a cart or stroller. Service dogs can walk freely alongside their users.

However, it’s important to note that even service dogs need to be leashed while in Target. The ADA states that service dogs must be tethered, harnessed, or leashed while in public. However, if being connected to a leash would prevent the service dog from performing certain tasks they’ve been trained to do, then they do not need to be leashed. Still, the service dog should be completely under the handler’s control.

Does Target Allow Dogs in Purses or Carriers?

If you have a small dog that can fit into a purse or a pet carrier, you may be wondering if you can bring them to Target. Even though your pet will be contained in the carrier or purse, unfortunately, you are still not allowed to bring them into Target.

Though your dog is contained, they could still be a nuisance to other customers by barking. Some customers could also be allergic to dogs. Target wants all customers to have a safe and pleasant shopping experience, so unfortunately, they have decided to ban dogs from their stores.

This does not include service dogs. If you have a service dog, you can bring them into the store with you. If you have a small service dog, they do not need to be kept in a bag, but they can be if you want to. Service dogs can walk freely with you in the store; they only need to be kept on a leash. It is permissible for a service dog to be off leash if using a leash would prevent them from performing their job.

How to Bring Your Dog to Target With You

If you really want to bring your dog with you to Target, there is one way you can do so without breaking the store’s rules. This would be to make a curbside pickup order online. Though your dog is not allowed in the store, they can definitely be in your car with you for a curbside pickup order.

However, there are a few things you should keep in mind. You may know how amazing your dog is, but other people don’t. Some people are even afraid of dogs. If your dog is not friendly or well-behaved, make sure that they cannot interact with the Target employee in any way.

Within the Target app, you are able to select where the employee should put your bags. If your dog isn’t friendly or is the type to get in people’s faces (even in excitement and happiness), have your order put in your trunk so that the employee doesn’t have to worry about your dog.
a labradoodle using a laptop

Other Stores That Don’t Allow Dogs

Target is not alone in its no-pets policy. There are many stores that do not allow dogs. Of course, these rules do not apply to service dogs as service dogs are federally protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act and can accompany their users anywhere the public is allowed to go.

With that in mind, here are more stores that require you to leave your pets at home.

  • BJ’s Wholesale Club
  • Costco
  • Festival Foods – Does not allow dogs inside, but some locations have kennels to keep dogs safe out of hot cars while customers shop
  • IKEA
  • Meijer
  • Menards
  • Sam’s Club
  • Trader Joes
  • Walgreens
  • Walmart
  • Whole Foods

Stores That Do Allow Dogs

Though many stores, including Target, have no-pets policies, you may be surprised by just how many businesses are okay with customers bringing their dogs with them to shop. It’s still best to call ahead and see if you can bring your dog with you, but the following stores are more likely to give you the go-ahead.

All Locations Allow Dogs

  • Everlane
  • Michaels
  • Petco
  • PetSmart
  • Pet Supplies Plus
  • Ross
  • Tractor Supply Co.

Most Locations Allow Dogs

  • Ace Hardware
  • Bass Pro Shops
  • Bed Bath & Beyond
  • Cabela’s
  • Half Price Books
  • L. Bean
  • Lowe’s
  • Marshalls
  • J. Maxx
  • Warby Parker

Some Locations Allow Dogs

  • Apple
  • Barnes & Noble
  • Best Buy
  • CVS
  • GAP
  • Hobby Lobby
  • Home Depot
  • Joann Fabrics
  • LUSH
  • Macy’s
  • Nordstrom
  • Old Navy
  • Pottery Barn
  • Sephora
  • Victoria’s Secret

Does Target Allow Dogs? Final Thoughts

Unfortunately, Target does not allow dogs. This includes both pet dogs and Emotional Support animals. It doesn’t matter if you steer clear of the grocery section, keep your dog on a leash, keep your dog in a purse or carrier, or bring your dog in a stroller or cart; your dog is simply not allowed.

The only exception is service dogs. Because service dogs provide essential care to their users, stores are required by law to allow them anywhere the general public is allowed. Service dogs can accompany their handlers through every section of Target, even the grocery section.

So, if you’re planning a trip to Target and you don’t have a service dog, then you’ll have to leave your pup at home.