Does Walmart Allow Dogs? (Updated in 2021)

Many of us dog owners love to take our pooches with us wherever we go, and this is especially tempting if you’ve got a smaller breed of dog that’s perfectly portable! But can you take your dog into Walmart? The short answer is that unless your dog is registered as a service animal, they won’t be allowed into a Walmart store.

Let’s take a closer look at the reasons behind that decision.

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Walmart’s Official Statement

On the Walmart website, they state:

“Walmart welcomes service animals as defined by the ADA is our stores, and we recognize the important role they play in many of our customers’ lives. We do not allow pets in our stores.”

Most Walmart stores have a sign outside stating the following:

“Non-service animals are not permitted in grocery stores under applicable food safety regulations. Service animals are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for persons with disabilities. Comfort or emotional support animals are not service animals. We apologize for any inconvenience.”

Dachshund outside store pet parking
Image credit: Masarik, Shutterstock

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What is a service animal?

The next thing that you might be wondering is what exactly is a service animal, and would your dog qualify? The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines a service animal as:

“A dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability. The task(s) performed by the dog must be directly related to the person’s disability.”

As an example, a service dog may be trained to support someone with diabetes. The dog may be trained to alert their owner when their blood sugar reaches too high or too low a level. Someone else with epilepsy may have a service dog that is trained to detect if they’re going to have a seizure. The dog will then help their owner stay safe if a seizure does occur.

Walmart associates may ask if a dog is a service animal when they come into the store. Many service dogs wear a bright vest or harness, although under the ADA, they do not have to do so.

What about service-dogs-in-training?

Service dogs who are still being trained will not be covered by the ADA, so they won’t be allowed into Walmart stores.

What about emotional support animals?

Any dog that is an emotional support, comfort, therapy, or companion dog is not a service dog. They haven’t been specifically trained to carry out a task that is related to helping someone with a disability.

This means they don’t qualify as a service animal under the ADA, so they wouldn’t be allowed in a Walmart store.

Bear in mind that some states do have laws that sometimes allow emotional support animals into public places. You might want to check your local area, but even if these laws are in place, they may not allow for your emotional support dog to enter a Walmart store if they have the signage that says that these dogs are not allowed.

service dog
Image credit: Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock

What about ordinary dogs?

As mentioned, ordinary dogs without any special training as a service animal won’t be allowed into Walmart stores.

Can I take my dog into Walmart in a stroller?

Dog strollers are getting more and more popular, and they do remove a few of the reasons that dogs aren’t allowed in stores, like leaving a mess on the floor or their leash getting tangled up.

But your dog in a stroller could still contaminate foodstuffs or trigger allergies in other shoppers. So in this case, the answer is still no!

Can I take my puppy into Walmart?

Nope, sorry! They still fall under the category of dogs, so even though they might be tiny and very cute, you still can’t take them into a Walmart store.

Why doesn’t Walmart allow dogs?

The main reason that Walmart cannot allow ordinary dogs into their stores is because of the FDA’s food service codes, which state that allowing animals into food stores is unsanitary. We agree!

Here are a few good reasons that Walmart and other stores don’t allow dogs:

  • Dogs can be infected with fleas and ticks.
  • Some visitors to the store will have allergies to dog hair.
  • Food can get contaminated.
  • Some visitors to the store may be scared of dogs.
  • Some dogs are not well trained on a leash.
  • Dogs can leave a mess if they need a pee or poop.
  • A leash could become tangled in other shopper’s legs.
dogs in a mall_
Image Credit: heychli, Shutterstock

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Wrapping it up

So, unless your dog is a service animal, they’ll be denied entry to your local Walmart. It’s best to leave your pooch at home when you head there to do the grocery shopping.

Most dogs would prefer a run in the park to a walk around Walmart, anyway! One store that does allow dogs and that your dog would probably love to visit is PetSmart — your pup might even want to choose a new toy or treat while you’re there.


Featured Image Credit: Augustcindy, Shutterstock