Are Dogs Allowed in Walmart? Expert Answers

If your dog is your best friend, then you may wish to take them everywhere with you. It’s hard to leave your pup all alone at home, especially when they give you that look when you’re leaving. It’s even worse if they get vocal, whining, or barking because you’re going somewhere without them.

However, it’s a fact of life that dogs aren’t allowed everywhere we are. Though there are many dog-friendly activities we can participate in, we simply cannot take our dogs everywhere with us, even if we wish we could.

It’s taken as common knowledge that dogs aren’t allowed into stores, but is that actually true? Today, we’ll be taking a look at Walmart’s pet policy to let you know whether or not your dog is allowed to accompany you to Walmart.

We’ll also share some information about other stores’ pet policies. By the end of this article, you’ll know everything you need to know about Walmart’s pet policy and which stores do or don’t allow dogs.

Are Dogs Allowed in Walmart?

Unfortunately, dogs are not allowed in Walmart. Walmart’s official policy, as stated on its website, is that they do not allow pets in their stores. Of course, this doesn’t mean you will never see a dog in Walmart.

Though Walmart doesn’t allow pets, it does allow service dogs. For many, service dogs are vital to their health and well-being, so they cannot easily be without them. Walmart claims to recognize the important role these dogs play and thus welcomes service dogs into their stores.

Is Walmart Pet-Friendly?

You won’t see any dogs (aside from service dogs) in Walmart, but what about other pets? Unfortunately, Walmart has a no-pets policy. It doesn’t matter what kind of animal you have; Walmart does not allow them in its stores.

However, this no-pets policy does not apply to service dogs. Service dogs are technically not pets; they are working animals. What kind of work service dogs perform will vary depending on the disability of their user, but all of the work they perform makes it possible for their users to live their lives with some sense of normalcy.

Are Service Dogs Allowed in Walmart?

As we have explained, pet dogs are not welcome at Walmart, but service dogs are because they are working animals and not pets. Because service dogs provide vital support to people with disabilities, they are protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA is a federal law that supersedes all state laws.

It’s thanks to the ADA that service dogs can accompany their users anywhere the general public is allowed to go. This includes places like parks, restaurants, grocery stores, department stores, libraries, gyms, and, of course, Walmarts.

Though service dogs are, by law, allowed into Walmart stores, there are some rules. Firstly, a service dog must be under control at all times. The ADA requires service dogs to be leashed while in public; however, if being leashed would prevent the dog from properly aiding their user, then the service dog can be off-leash.

What Is a Service Dog?

In recent years, there has been some confusion about what makes a dog a service animal. Some people get them mixed up with emotional support dogs and therapy dogs, but they are not the same.

Service dogs undergo intensive training so that they can do amazing things for their users. According to the ADA, the definition of service dogs is “dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities.”

There are many different kinds of service dogs and they can be trained to do many different things for their users. Guide dogs for the blind are perhaps the most well-known type of service dog, but there are also diabetic alert service dogs that can alert their users to a drop in blood sugar.

Similarly, seizure alert dogs can alert their users to impending seizures. This allows the person to get themself in a safe position before the seizure starts, thus lowering the possibility of injury or vulnerability during the seizure.

Psychiatric service dogs help people who have mental health disabilities. They may provide body blocking while in public or deep pressure therapy to help reduce feelings of anxiety and help the user find their way back to a calmer state of mind.

There are so many different types of service dogs, but what’s important is to understand that what sets them apart from emotional support animals and therapy dogs is that they are individually trained to perform tasks that assist disabled people.
service dog opens bathroom door

What Kind of Service Dogs Are Allowed In Walmart?

All types of service dogs are allowed in Walmart. Service dogs as a whole are given public access rights by the ADA, and it does not matter what kind of work the service dog does. If the dog is a service animal, then they are allowed in Walmart. Though we can’t list every kind of service dog in existence, the following are some examples of different types of service dogs that are allowed in Walmart stores:

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

Can Walmart Turn Away a Service Dog?

In general, It is illegal for Walmart to prevent service dogs from entering their stores. However, there are some scenarios in which Walmart would have the right to turn a service dog away. Mainly, if the service dog somehow posed a threat to the health or safety of other customers, then Walmart could either kick the dog out or prevent them from entering the store.

An example of such a situation would be if the service dog was aggressively snapping or lunging at other customers. Similarly, if a service dog was urinating and defecating in the store, this could be seen as a health hazard, and the dog could be removed. However, service dogs are highly trained, and both scenarios would be incredibly rare.

Unfortunately, many people do not know or understand the laws that pertain to service animals. Not only that, but they may think the service dog’s user is lying about their dog being a service dog. This is why, even though it’s illegal, service dogs are sometimes prohibited from entering stores like Walmart.

Employees may ask for identification or registration, but service dogs do not have to have either. In fact, a federal registry for service dogs does not exist. The ADA also does not require service dogs to wear vests or any kind of visible identification.

Furthermore, store owners or employees are only allowed to ask service dog users two questions. The first is “Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability?” and the second is “What work or tasks has the dog been trained to perform?”

It is unlawful to ask any further questions as this could invade the medical privacy of the service dog user. Businesses are also not permitted to ask to see the service dog demonstrate service tasks.

Unfortunately, many business owners and employees do not know much about service dog laws, and thus, they try to prevent service dogs from entering their stores. Whether you’re a service dog user or an employee at a company like Walmart, it is important to understand the rights given to service dogs by the ADA.

Does Walmart Allow Therapy Dogs?

When people hear the term “therapy dog,” they sometimes think it means a dog that is used by psychiatrists or counselors to help provide therapy to patients struggling with their mental health. While this is an accurate description of one type of therapy dog, the more common usage of the term refers to dogs that are taken to visit people in hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and the like.

These dogs are meant to help bring joy to people who may be feeling lonely, sad, or stressed. They may visit an older adult in a nursing home who doesn’t have any family, a child fighting cancer at a hospital who could use the unconditional love and joy that dogs offer, or a college student who is stressed out about exams and needs a moment to decompress. In fact, studies show that dogs do have the ability to reduce feelings of stress and loneliness.

Before a therapy dog can make these visits, though, they must undergo training and even pass tests. The training and tests are very important as they ensure that the dogs are friendly, well-mannered, and okay with being hugged and touched. Therapy dogs have to interact with strangers who may not always have the gentlest touch, so they have to be very docile and well-behaved.

Still, therapy dogs are not service dogs, and the training they receive is not the same. Therapy dogs do not work for disabled people. They are not taught tasks that specifically assist with someone’s disability.

Even though therapy dogs are taught to be friendly and well-behaved, they do not receive any federal protections and thus would be considered pets by Walmart. Unfortunately, therapy dogs are not allowed in Walmart stores.

If you really want to bring a therapy dog to Walmart, you could try calling and seeing if you could set up a therapy visit for the workers. Maybe they’ll even let you shop with your dog afterward.

Does Walmart Allow Emotional Support Animals?

Emotional support animals (ESAs) are often prescribed by doctors to patients who are struggling with their mental health. Emotional support animals are believed to benefit people with a variety of mental health conditions, including but not limited to anxiety, depression, PTSD, and loneliness.

Even though ESAs are prescribed by a doctor, this does not make them service animals. Service animals must undergo intensive training so that they can perform work for individuals with disabilities. Emotional support animals, on the other hand, do not have to be trained at all.

Not only that, but emotional support animals can be any animal, whereas a service animal must be a dog (in some cases, a service animal can be a miniature horse). Service dogs take a very active role in the lives of the people they help because they perform tasks, such as guiding or alerting.

Emotional support animals, on the other hand, provide a benefit to their owners simply by existing. Their presence alone can help reduce feelings of anxiety, depression, loneliness, etc. Being responsible for an ESA’s well-being can also improve one’s own sense of self-worth.

Though ESAs provide many benefits to their owners, they are not service animals. Because of this, they are not offered the same privileges or protections. Walmart will view ESAs as pets, so ESAs are not allowed in Walmart stores.

If you have an emotional support dog and you want to be able to take them to Walmart or any other store, consider training them to be a psychiatric service dog. Psychiatric service dogs help people who have mental health disabilities.

They can perform tasks such as deep pressure therapy, body blocking while in public, medication reminders, and much more. U.S. Service Animals provides online psychiatric service dog training for those who are interested.

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

You may have read online that dogs aren’t allowed into stores with grocery sections because their presence around food could cause hygiene issues. So, if you avoid the grocery section, there should be no harm in bringing your dog into a store, right?

Regardless of whether or not that’s true, Walmart’s policy remains strict. You cannot bring your dog into a Walmart store regardless of whether or not you avoid the grocery section. However, service dogs are allowed in Walmart and are even allowed to walk through the grocery section so long as they are under their handler’s control and are potty trained.

Does Walmart Allow Dogs On a Leash?

Leashes are a great tool for providing us control of our dogs. We can stop them from going towards people or objects. So, would it be alright to bring a dog into Walmart if they are kept controlled on a leash?

Unfortunately, the answer is still no. Walmart’s policy simply does not allow dogs. Besides, dogs can still defecate or urinate even if they’re on a leash. Furthermore, an owner who is distracted with their shopping may not be paying enough attention to their dog, who may decide to help themselves to the chewable objects on the bottom shelf.

Of course, if your dog is a service dog, then Walmart’s strict no-pets policy does not apply to you. You can bring your dog into any Walmart store. However, even service dogs must be kept on a leash. The only time a service dog does not have to be leashed is if doing so would prohibit the dog from doing their job.

Does Walmart Allow Dogs in Strollers or Carts?

Walmart does not allow dogs in their stores, even if the dog is kept contained in a stroller or cart. Dogs are great, but not all of them have the best manners. Dogs in strollers may not be able to lash out at other customers, but they can still bark and be a nuisance in other ways.

Walmart’s pet policy has no exceptions for anything but service dogs. Service dogs are allowed to enter Walmart stores with their handlers, and they don’t have to be kept in a stroller or cart. Service dogs should be kept leashed or tethered, but they don’t have to be if the leash will get in the way of their work.

If a service dog isn’t leashed, they should not be roaming the store freely. They should be under the control of their handler and stay near the handler at all times, only leaving their handler to get help in an emergency situation.

Does Walmart Allow Dogs in Purses or Carriers?

If your dog is small enough to fit into a purse or pet carrier, you may be wondering if it is okay to bring them into Walmart as long as they are kept in the bag or carrier. Even though your pup will be contained, Walmart still will not allow them inside their stores.

Even dogs that are kept in pet carriers can still cause problems. They can annoy other customers by barking, and there is always the chance that someone in the store is allergic to dogs. Walmart wants every customer to have a good experience, so, unfortunately, they’ve decided it is better if dogs are left at home.

Of course, this does not apply to service dogs. Service dogs are allowed in Walmart stores, and they do not have to be kept in a bag or carrier as that could inhibit their work. In fact, service dogs do not even have to be kept on a leash if doing so would prevent them from working. However, if the service dog can be kept on a leash, then the ADA requires it to be leashed.

How to Bring Your Dog to Walmart With You

Though you can’t bring your dog into a Walmart store with you, there is one way that you can take them on your next Walmart trip. This is by ordering online for curbside pickup.

Curbside pickup is quite easy. When you make your order, just make sure that you select the appropriate pickup option. Once you get to the store, you’ll need to park in one of the assigned curbside pickup parking stalls, which are clearly labeled. From there, just open the Walmart app to let the employees know you’ve arrived.

Since you’ll be staying in your car, your dog is welcome to join you on this type of excursion to Walmart. However, there are some things you should keep in mind.

First of all, not everyone likes dogs, and some people are even afraid of them. Secondly, some dogs are more likely to bark at people while they’re in cars. Other dogs are simply very excitable and happy around strangers in general.

Be considerate of the workers at Walmart and do your best to prevent interactions between them and your dog if either the worker or your dog seems uncomfortable. It’s easy to do this by asking the worker to put your purchases in your trunk.

Other Stores That Don’t Allow Dogs

Walmart is not the only company to disallow pets in their stores. There are many stores that do not want our furry friends joining us to shop. Once again, these rules do not apply to service dogs as they are protected by the ADA and can accompany their users anywhere the public is allowed to go.

With that said, here are some other stores that will not allow your dog to join you in their stores:

  • 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
  • Target
  • Trader Joes
  • Walgreens
  • Whole Foods

Stores That Do Allow Dogs

Though Walmart doesn’t allow dogs, you may be surprised by how many other stores do. We’ve put together a bullet-pointed list of stores that allow dogs at some locations, most locations, and all locations. Remember, it’s always better to call ahead than to show up at a store and expect them to let your dog in, even if you’ve heard that a store is pet-friendly.

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

dog holds filled brown grocery bag

Does Walmart Allow Dogs? Final Thoughts

Unfortunately, Walmart does not allow dogs in their stores. This includes therapy dogs, pet dogs, and emotional support animals. Whether you promise to stay away from the groceries, keep your dog on a leash, or bring your dog in a pet carrier, Walmart will still refuse entry to your pup.

The only exception to Walmart’s no-pets policy is service dogs. Service dogs are not pets; they provide essential care to their users, and Walmart is required, by law, to allow service dogs into their stores. Service dogs are even allowed in the grocery section.

If you’re planning a trip to Walmart and your dog isn’t a service animal, then, unfortunately, you’ll have to leave them at home.