Who among us hasn’t felt at least a twinge of guilt when leaving the house to go shopping and watched the beseeching, or even forlorn, look of a dog about to be left alone? Wouldn’t it be great, you might think to yourself, if stores would just loosen their policies so your well-behaved pet could come along with you?
Well, more and more stores are now beginning to open their doors to our four-legged family members.
“We’re always happy to see them, as long as they’re leashed and not aggressive toward other dogs,” says Felicia Meyer, Home Depot’s customer service desk team leader for the chain’s Rockland, Massachusetts, branch. “Most people who come in are dog lovers, and all my co-workers are dog lovers — some even carry dog treats, and there are always some at the Paint Desk.” Even an aggressive dog would be welcome if it came down to letting the dog in or leaving the pet in a hot car. In such a case, Ms. Meyer says, “I would let the dog come in any time.”
Following is a list of some of the types of stores that allow dogs, along with specific store names within each category. But you should still call ahead to the particular outlet you have in mind because while the chain’s corporate office may approve, the final decision rests with each store manager. Also important to keep in mind is that while a store might allow a dog, if that store is in a mall with a no-dog policy and doesn’t have an entrance from the parking lot, your pet will have to stay home.
You always want to mind your manners and use some common sense, too. Keep your dog on a leash at all times. If he’s small enough, you might want to place him in a cart where he can enjoy the sights while you navigate the aisles without causing traffic jams by dint of his inquisitive sniffing. If you do put your dog in a cart, wipe it down afterwards out of courtesy for the next customer. And if it’s raining out, better to leave your dog home. You don’t want him shaking off the raindrops onto merchandise — and other customers.
The list below includes stores with branches around the country. But you can also make calls to smaller, local shops to see if their policy includes a pass for Fido. For sure, more and more eateries with outdoor seating areas are allowing dogs to tag along with you as you dine al fresco.
Pet stores. Not surprisingly, pet stores are the lowest-hanging “fruit” when it comes to “Dogs Allowed.” The big box pet stores such as Petco and PetSmart most definitely allow dogs, and many smaller local dog boutiques do, too. In the larger outlets, wide aisles and birds and other small animals to peer at make for a very exciting time. Just be sure to keep your pet away from the rawhide and easy-to-lift loose toys in lower bins. And steer your dog away from animals for sale if he appears to be frightening them. (Puppy socializing classes and obedience classes are often held in the larger stores.)
Book Stores. Dogs are welcome at Barnes & Noble (remember, call your own particular branch ahead of time to make sure it’s okay), as well as at some well known independent shops, including the Strand Bookstore in New York City. If you can imagine your dog waiting patiently as you peruse the shelves and perhaps even settling down with you in a quiet corner to delve into a book’s first chapter, book shopping might be just the excursion for the two of you to share.
Apparel. Whether you dress high-end or low-end, you and your dog can shop for clothes till you drop. Abercrombie & Fitch, Ann Taylor, the Gap, Urban Outfitters, Foot Locker, Bebe, T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, Nordstrom, Old Navy, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Free People all allow dogs on their premises — a surprising array of choices given all that could go wrong. If you do bring your dog (who will always be happy to tell you that “you don’t look fat in that dress”), consider whether his loose fur will end up on fabric and if his wet nose might cause stains. Smaller dogs are obviously going to work out better in clothing stores, especially if you plan to share the dressing room with your pet.
Arts & Crafts and Gifts. Both Michael’s and Hobby Lobby welcome furry pets. Wide aisles make navigating these establishments fairly easy. Just don’t let your dog get too close to delicate decorations or propped mirrors and framed posters that could topple. Hallmark permits dogs, too.
Beauty. Sephora, Bath & Body Works, LUSH Cosmetics, and MAC Cosmetics all open their doors to dogs. Just remember to keep holding the leash while you blot.