Tips for Shopping With Your Dog
It can be fun to tote your furry pal along for a shopping trip — you get to check off your errands, and he gets to go on a grand adventure, right? But shopping with your dog can go sideways, if he starts barking his head off or you spot a "no dogs allowed" sign too late. Set you and your pup up for success by considering his personality, his training, and the store's policies before you go. Keep the following tips in mind, and you'll both enjoy some retail therapy.
Are Dogs Allowed in Stores?
Before you and your friend hop in the car, find out if the stores on your shopping list will welcome him. Not all stores allow dogs other than assistance animals, and those policies should be respected. Grocery stores and indoor restaurants often decline canine customers due to health and food theft concerns. Many retail stores also don't allow puppers to shop.
But some places are dog-friendly. Pet supply stores are usually a solid bet, and other stores, including Home Depot, Tractor Supply Co., and Macy's, sometimes allow pups. Certain small businesses may also welcome pooches. A mall may let you bring your pup for a walk in the corridors, but remember each store will have its own rules.
Before you go, check with a manager about their pet policy. Even with dog-friendly chains, individual locations may have different rules. It's much less awkward for everyone if you get the details ahead of your visit. And while some stores are lenient, you should presume a "no dogs" policy applies to tiny dogs, even teacup poodles and toy terriers that fit in your bag.
Before You Go Shopping With Your Dog
Your doggo is perfect to you, but is he perfect for shopping?
When you're considering shopping with your dog, ask yourself these questions:
1. Does my dog like people and have good manners?
If your pup happily greets other humans and is trained to be polite, he might be a great shopper. No matter how adorable he is, he may not look so cute to the person on whom he's jumping. If your furry friend only approaches people when allowed and invited, he's likely ready to take with you. If he can't contain himself, work on self-control and manners at home first.
Not all doggos like interacting with people, and that's okay, too. If your pal prefers to keep to himself while out and about, remember you can tell people "no" when they ask to pet him. You are your pup's best advocate, and it's your job to protect him and keep him happy. Lastly, if your dog turns into Cujo at the sight of another person, stick to letting him help with your online shopping only.
2. How does my dog do with unpredictability?
To your four-legged friend, stores are mazes. They're filled with weird corners, tight spaces, and spots where you sometimes can see through a rack to another aisle. If your friend gets dodgy about people coming from all directions in parking lots or other crowded outdoor spaces, he probably won't like a store either. You don't want him to get scared or, worse, nip someone who catches him by surprise.
3. Is my dog comfortable in unfamiliar environments?
Most stores are nothing like your home. Carts are rolling around, and registers are dinging. Plus, many stores have smooth, shiny floors, which can be panic-inducing for some dogs.
4. Is my dog good on a leash?
Your pupper should be leashed inside the store. If he pulls, he could make you slip or knock down a display as he rockets around a corner. Work on loose-leash walking outside and at home before you tackle shopping.
5. How does my dog react to other dogs?
You might have to pass other furry friends in a narrow aisle. If your pup wags his tail at the sight of other doggos or ignores them, he's probably up for the challenge. If he barks or lunges, work on manners and socialization in a less congested setting, like a park, before you hit the stores.
6. Is my dog completely house-trained?
Think long and hard about this one, especially if you have a male dog. If there's any chance he might pee on merchandise, leave him home. It's gross, it can ruin products, and it's the kind of thing that makes store owners ban dogs forever.
If you're unsure how your pal will react, start by taking him to a pet supply store when it's unlikely to be busy. These stores are designed with canine guests in mind, so they usually have wider aisles. They're also full of familiar scents, from treats to toys. This can be a nice introduction to shopping for him. When he's comfortable and relaxed there, you can try other places.
Bring the essentials
Go on a walk before heading to the store, making sure your dog has peed and pooped. "Cleanup in aisle three" is embarrassing, plus dealing with messes might make a manager rethink their dog policy.
Remember to grab all the supplies you might need before you head out, including:
- A secure collar or harness that fits snugly so your dog doesn't get loose
- A short leash — six feet max (a retractable lead is a safety hazard in a store)
- Poop bags and disinfectant wipes, just in case
- Treats to reward your dog for good behavior
Make Shopping With Your Dog a Smashing Success
Once you've checked the destination, factored in your pal's personality, and gathered the items you need on hand, you two can have a fun day. When you're a thoughtful pet parent, shopping with your canine BFF can be a smashing success. Just remember:
- Use a leash or carrier at all times.
- Only let your doggo approach people when he's invited.
- Keep your dog close by.
- Make sure your dog doesn't accidentally "steal" items.
- No slobbering on the merchandise!
- Clean up after your pooch, whether it's a puddle or a toppled display.
Being an honest and responsible pet parent goes a long way toward maintaining goodwill for dogs in stores.