The Complete Guide To Shopping With Your Dog

As you take your dog outside for shopping, you need to start it slowly. Initially, it will be best to visit a place that is close to your home so that if required, you can come back quickly. Let the dog relax at the place where your visit.

As it will be a new experience and especially with visits to a shopping mall, you must carry some toys and treats that are familiar to the dog. This will help him stay calm to an extent. After 3-4 visits to a specific place, you can expect the dog will get used to it.

With the increasing ownership of pets across the world, more and more businesses are becoming pet-friendly.

Besides family-owned and small businesses, you will discover that many shopping malls and retail stores have a sign in front of their door: “No dogs except service dogs allowed.”

According to a recent report by the American Pet Products Association (APPA), in 2014 the pet sector overall was approximately a $60 billion industry, and the number of pets in the US exceeded the number of human beings by a ratio of 5 to 4.

That promotes the development of the pet sector and builds a big industry chain, which includes pet toys, foods, supplies, courses, clothes, as well as pet-friendly hotels, shops, and restaurants.

It can also be to the advantage of businesses to cater to pet owners by allowing them to visit along with their dogs, with the exception many grocery stores and restaurants, you are more likely than not to get permission to take your canine friend with you.

However, the privilege to go shopping with your dog comes with some responsibility. Therefore, if you already haven’t, then avoid going with a pet for shopping just yet.

Going First Time Shopping With Your Dog?

For most individuals, shopping is usually an enjoyable and relaxing way to spend quality time. For pets, it’s an exciting and hopeful thing to go outdoors with a dog owner. However, it is not an easy thing to go shopping with an animal.

For many pets, it is probably scary to go to places with a lot of people, especially for the first time. That is also intimidation or a threat to human beings. Here are some reasons why shopping with your dog is not an easy task.

1. Your dog is entering new territory

Taking your canine friend for the first time into places with a lot of people can be a pretty scary experience for your dog, and also stressful for humans, for a variety of reasons.

From the pet’s point of view, it is a place full of many activities and strangers, including distracting sights, unfamiliar noises, and new smells.

Now territory is so important for dogs and that is why I have an article on how best to manage the territories for your dogs even when they are aggressive.

2. Your dog can get stressed

Again, many people have a habit of walking to strange puppies to greet them, and that can add to the fearfulness and uncertainty of your dog.

The place is full of activities and strangers, new smells as well as strange sounds which will easily increase insecurity and anxiety.

By contrast, the gnashing of teeth and growling could also bring stressful and unpleasant feelings to many customers.

3. Food stores and Restaurants are more strict

In most grocery stores, a dog might get attracted to the delicious foods and mess up the store’s shelves. So, to avoid any unnecessary problems, most retail stores are usually off-limits to pets.

4. You simply cannot ignore distractions

The other thing about stores which can be confusing to many dogs that most people don’t even consider is that their view is usually obstructed by the shelves of the stores.

Walking your dog down the aisle of a store, to them, is like walking through a pretty narrow tunnel and, if the store shelves are mesh or wire, the dog can partially see the people around moving on the other side.

Since most dogs do not know what retail businesses are, all these factors can easily add up and put them in some of the pet avoidance modes: fight, surrender, or flight. Your responsibility in taking your dog into a business is to ensure that they are well-behaved and calm and always on the leash.

Nevertheless, some well-behaved canines, such as therapy dogs and service dogs, are allowed to enter with their handlers in shops or shopping malls, although there’s a “No pets” notice attached to the door.

The answer to whether or not you can shop with your dog usually depends on the decision of the manager in different shopping malls. However, most shop managers prefer friendly and socialized dogs.

First Time Shopping With Your Dog

How to Prepare Your Dog Before Going for Shopping

Just like any other new experience for a puppy, it is always good to begin small and then work your way up, so that your pet can slowly become used to a lot of things.

Before going out with your dog into a shopping mall, look for an outdoor mall or any other place with lots of pedestrian traffic and then go there together for a walk.

All these points are quite similar to the time when you take the dog to a dog park and hence you should also give read to my article on managing your dog in a dog park.

1. Start with a place your dog can relate

Once you and your fur friend are finally ready to go inside, begin with a pet store. Here, the smells will be friendly and familiar because the dog is used to the treats, food, and toys sold in the store, and you might also meet other pets as well.

Besides, you will also be introducing your puppy to the unfamiliar store aisles and shelves.

2. Allow your dog to relax

If your canine friend appears to be stressed, look for a quiet sitting area and sit with it, get it to sit as well, and then observe. By doing this, you will get it used to be around strangers without the complications of being restrained by the store shelves.

Once it gets used to staying by your side and remaining calm among the crowds, then it is time to get inside.

3. Begin with a less busy store

At first, try to time all your visits for when the store is not busy, probably during a weekday morning, or later in the evenings before closing time. If your pet can go into a pet store with you and stay calm, it is time to expand its experience.

4. Remember its new experience for your dog

At this juncture, you can visit any indoor mall with your pet, but do not enter any stores yet. Take time and walk with your dog up and down the shopping mall, again allowing it to get used to the numerous activities and smells.

Currently, most malls welcome dogs, and you can also search online for lists of locations that allow you to shop with your pet.

This section of the training process will also acclimate your canine friend to being around a lot of excitement when it is indoors, and it not only smells quite different than outdoors, but it also feels and sounds different as well.

which shopping malls that allow pets

Tips for Shopping with Your Pet

The fact that your dog is allowed to enter shopping malls does not mean that you should not take certain factors and precautions into consideration.

If you are looking forward to having a great shopping experience with your pooch, here are some tips to keep in mind.

1. Consider the size of your dog

If you own a big dog and would like to go to a small shop with some narrow hallways, it might cause you problems.

Although you may want to take good advantage of the new pet-friendly rules, your big dog may cause problems that can make some individuals frown upon all these policies. Therefore, it is important to consider the size of your dog before heading out and make a good decision.

2. Consider the personality of your dog

The other aspect to consider is the personality of your pet. Everybody believes that their pet is usually the best, but you should be honest about their temperaments and behavior.

Is your dog hyperactive and also prone to bumping on things? Does it bite or nip at people? Does it ignore instructions or pull on its leash? If your answer to any of all these questions is “yes,” then you probably should not go shopping with your dog.

3. Use a dog leash

Your dog should always be kept on the leash. Regardless of how well-behaved or calm they are, some people might feel bothered or even get frightened to see your pet off-leash. Read the article on using the leash with your dog on my website.

To avoid anything bad from happening whenever you head out in crowded places, always have your pet on a leash and also keep them as near to you as possible. But if you have a small pet, you can consider putting them in your bag or a carrier.

4. Greet politely

Your pet might be friendly but not every other pet or individual is. Allow your puppy to greet some people only when they request and only as long as it keeps all four paws on the ground.

Even if your pet is friendly, it’s crucial to remember that not all puppies are, particularly on a leash and in an enclosed place. If your canine friend expresses an interest in other dogs, consider inviting the pet owner to meet you at a local dog park at a later day for a play date.

5. Reduce messes

While your canine friend should be fully home trained before taking it to a pet-supply store, the sounds and sights of the new places can make your dog forget most of his manners. You can minimize the occurrence of accidents by taking your puppy out to its potty before heading out to the store.

When you are inside, watch your pup for signs of marking, like intense sniffing of a specific spot and siding up to some vertical items and always be ready to move your pet a short distance from any mark-worthy items and also redirect its attention to other tasks such as making eye contact or heeling.

If your puppy has an accident, avoid pretending you don’t see it or covering it up. Instead, make sure that all messes get cleaned up immediately. Most shopping stores keep poop bags and disinfectants, but if not, you should alert an employee of the store for assistance and politely offer to clean up the mess yourself.

Therefore, even if a shopping mall is pet-friendly, you should still allow your dog to relieve itself before you browse. It will feel more comfortable, and you will also reduce the chances of any accidents while in the store. Remember: if your dog marks it, you purchase it.

6. Treat the items with respect

While a pet-supply store might be dog-friendly, remember that it is still a business, and it is not acceptable to damage any merchandise. If your pet chomps down on some doggy toy or chews with gusto, leaving slobber or teeth marks, you are fully responsible for buying the damaged items.

Training your puppy to “leave it” or “drop it” can assist in managing this situation. In the same way, do not encourage your canine friend to pick out new toys by allowing it to hold different ones in its mouth.

Finally, if the dog jumps or bumps into an item and accidentally breaks it, alert one of the pet store employees immediately and ask their guidance on how you can best solve the issue.

7. Check which shopping malls that allow pets in advance

Even if a store is dog-friendly, some shops might have their policies. That means you might be able to go with your puppy in the open areas of a certain shopping center, but you will not be able to bring them into particular locations.

If you are visiting a certain store for the first time, check it well in advance before bringing your dog. Stores that stock fragile antiques or items, for instance, might request you to leave your large but lovable dog at home.

8. Why you should avoid food-serving establishments

As a rule of thumb, many indoor food establishments usually prohibit pets for food safety. Avoid bringing your puppy to shopping malls with food outlets to avoid violating the health policies.

Besides, all those delicious smells might make it pretty difficult to maintain the attention of your dog. However, if a restaurant or hotel has an outdoor dining space, they might allow you to dine with your dog.

9. Be willing to accept a “No”

Just because some shopping malls allow dogs, it doesn’t mean that all shops are obligated to. Just remember that the manager or the owner of the business is the one who decides whether or not to allow any pets in the store.

Always be understanding and have a good attitude when pets are not allowed. Being aggressive or arguing will not take you anywhere, smile if they don’t allow your dog in and go on your way.

10. Drive your car safely when going to the shopping mall

Your dogs are your “fur-babies,” and it is obvious that you want to keep them safe at all times. Therefore, before you start your journey when going shopping with your canine friend, you should ensure that your pet is comfortable.

Shopping mall day with dog

Driving With Your Canine to the Shopping Mall

Here are some of the best methods to keep your fur friend safe when driving around town or going for some errands.

1. Keep your dog inside your car when driving

Dogs should be kept safely inside your vehicle when driving and also in your back seat. If you allow your dog to stick its head out of the window, it can get injured by some particles of debris or even get sick if some cold air gets forced into their fragile lungs.

Sniffing the breeze from car open windows can also lead to a veterinarian visit if pebbles or something from the highway is kicked up into the face of your dog.

Again, never drive with your dog in the back of your open pickup truck. By doing this, you will make it pretty easy for your dog to jump or even fall out of your truck bed.

2. Carry a travel kit

Always bring some food, a dog leash, a bowl, a waste scoop, grooming supplies, plastic bags, some medications as well as first aid and travel documents. Also, pack a favorite pillow or toy to give your dog a sense of familiarity during your trip to the shopping mall.

Also, ensure that you pack enough bottled water for your pet. Giving your dog drinking water from a place they are not used to can result in stomach discomforts.

Driving With Your Canine

Learn More With the Help of Video


Dog owners are doing more and more to ensure that their pets are comfortable, from making homemade treats to booking loving pet sitters.

Bringing your dog along to the shopping mall is a natural extension of the pet-centric lifestyle. Going shopping with a good friend is usually more fun and exciting than shopping alone.

However, due to regulations, most grocery stores are not pet-friendly, and food courts typically do not allow dogs indoors. But, if you want to dine out with your canine friend, look for a food-serving establishment with a patio. Most restaurants welcome pets in their outdoor dining spaces.

Also, note that busy retail areas might not be suitable for all dogs. Ensure that your dog is well-socialized and pretty comfortable among the crowds before you go out on some errands together. For anxious dogs, staying at home might be the best option.

Most shopping centers in the United States allow your pet to accompany you as you go shopping. In some states, canines are not only permitted but also welcomed with various amenities, such as doggie drinking fountains, dog comfort stations, yappy hours, dog parks, and many other dog-centric events.

Before you can take your dog to a shopping mall, always keep in mind all the tips discussed in this comprehensive guide to shopping with your dog to avoid any messes and embarrassments.



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