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Does Walmart Allow Dogs Inside?

At A Glance

Does Walmart allow dogs in its stores? The short answer is yes and no. Walmart clearly states in its dog policy that only service dogs, not pets, are allowed into its premises.

  • If you were thinking of taking your pet to Walmart, don’t do so unless it’s a licensed service dog.
  • The superstore holds the legal right to turn away visitors who bring pets instead of service dogs.

Last Updated on: Oct 03, 2022

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Why are dogs not allowed in Walmart?

Well, that’s not entirely accurate.

In the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) code of regulations, pets are not allowed in places that prepare food, such as grocery stores and restaurants. This is to prevent contamination.

For a superstore like Walmart, visitors must abide by their official policy that states only service animals will be allowed to visit.

Walmart Store Sign: 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.

But are dogs allowed in Walmart?

Only service dogs. They don’t consider emotional support dogs, dogs in strollers, or aged dogs as exceptions to the rule.

are dogs allowed in walmart - tweet 1

What Is A Service Dog?

As per the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards, a service dog is:

  • assigned to a disabled handler
  • housebroken
  • in complete control by the handler
  • trained to assist with one or more trained tasks related to the handler’s disability

Service dogs perform crucial tasks like:

  • directing people with visual impairments
  • picking up items for people with mobility restrictions
  • alerting deaf people when certain sounds, e.g. alarms, go off
  • warning people when they’re about to go into cardiac arrest

These dogs serve specific tasks after undergoing specialized training.

Emotional support animals (ESA), including dogs that provide comfort, are not considered service animals.

A handful of state and local government agencies allow ESAs in public places, but grocery stores are strictly off limits.

Also Read: Most Famous Dogs In Service.

How To Spot Service Dogs In Walmart?

They usually wear a bright vest or harness to indicate their specific roles. However, the ADA doesn’t provide a hard and fast rule on the accessories.

Thus, “when an ESA is well-behaved and dressed up in a service dog outfit, Walmart, and other businesses, are unlikely to challenge the owner as doing so risks a lawsuit.” says dog owner Michael Cyr of Maine.

Does that mean dog owners who disguise their ESAs as service dogs can just get away with it?

Not all the time. Some do get caught and pay dearly for it.

“Misrepresenting a pet as a service animal is illegal, and you could be charged $1000 and/or spend 6 months in prison”, points out service dog handler Alexis Mcbain.

If you’re the owner of an ESA that has been deemed fit by law to act as a service dog, the best thing to do is to approach Walmart’s management at the store. Show your local certification before you even start shopping.

While staying on the safe side of the law should be a priority for handlers, “Walmart has these signs outside the store about service dogs being welcome but the fact is that they will never challenge a pet”, reveals Niall MacDonagh. former Department Manager of Walmart, CA.

dog in mall store

Why Walmart Doesn’t Allow Ordinary Dogs?

Walmart looks out for its customers’ best interests and health by following the stringent rules set by the FDA and ADA on permitting only service dogs to its stores.

Here are the reasons those regulations were put in place:


This is a hygiene protocol that superstores follow to a tee. Additionally, Walmart considers other aspects of sanitation that could agitate or trigger allergies, fears, and discomfort among customers.

Maura Rudd, a dog owner from Delmarva, notes how “some customers might be allergic or have a fear of dogs”, which is a top concern Walmart addresses.

Bringing a service dog to Walmart is permitted by law. So, customers who are aware of the policy cannot demand the store’s management to take action. They may, however, report an incident of concern.

It is important to bring your service dog’s license, should you be asked to produce proper documentation if another customer escalates a complaint.

Rudd adds, “Someone could trip on the dog or its leash. There could be potty issues that would have to be cleaned up.” These are situations that shoppers or the Walmart staff will not tolerate.

Property Damage

Service dogs are specially trained to behave in public spaces. On the other hand, an untrained ordinary dog may not know how to remain calm around strangers or in unfamiliar places.

Walmart will hold you responsible for controlling your service dog if it hasn’t been housebroken. Unrestrained actions can damage property and packaged goods that could leave you with a hefty bill to settle.

Aggressive Behavior

While this trait is commonplace in public, it’s not to be taken lightly in stores like Walmart as it can be dangerous to shoppers. It can lead to biting people, provoking other animals, chasing after another dog, or attacking anyone who approaches without warning.

Ordinary dogs posing as untrained service dogs could do more harm than good when brought to Walmart. Only their owners take the consequences of their aggressive behavior. Grocery stores won’t be held accountable in most cases if they have explicit rules on admitting only well-trained service dogs.


It’s quite common to see service dogs in a store that permits them, but customers can experience a severe allergic reaction if they’re unaware of it beforehand.

That’s why Walmart places conspicuous signs about allowing them as a policy. This way, customers will know what to expect. It also ensures shoppers are safe and comfortable within the premises.

Can you imagine what would happen if the superstore admitted ordinary dogs as well? It’s tantamount to encouraging a large gathering of canines in an enclosed setting, which increases the likelihood of severe allergic reactions in vulnerable people.

If you suffer from pet allergies, you can maintain a safe distance from a service dog because it noticeably wears a badge and appropriate accessories.

dog with owner in store

Basic Etiquette To Follow As A Service Dog Owner

Keeping these things in mind will ensure that you and your service dog have a fuss-free experience at Walmart, or any store for that matter:

  • Understand your dog. Only you know well its behavior and triggers in public. Learn to control it or have someone accompany you to handle it while you shop for groceries.
  • Get pet insurance. Service dogs are sweet around their owners but can turn vicious when they sense a threat. Insurance coverage will offset any expenses from such a situation.
  • Use a leash. This will keep your dog safely by your side as you walk down the grocery aisles.
  • Clean up after it. A pile of poop or pee puddles violates Walmart’s health and safety standards. Carry disposable baggies and plenty of wet wipes for messy accidents.
  • Be cautious. Some people have cynophobia, the fear of dogs. Be alert for anyone who exhibits fear around your service dog. Hold it close, especially in crowded aisles.
  • Avoid roaming. Don’t let your dog wander. Choose a short leash. It’s natural for an animal to be curious, but not in a public place like a grocery store.
  • Take the edge off. A quick 10-minute walk before a grocery run will calm your service dog. If it’s prone to being fidgety, visit the park or beach to help it relax.
  • Put a muzzle over its mouth. This will not only protect passersby from bites but also train your dog to avoid sniffing and licking any food it sees.

Dog with owner in store

Frequently Asked Questions

These are other common queries on this topic aside from “are dogs allowed in Walmart?”

Are Leashed Dogs Allowed In Walmart?

Definitely. In fact, leashed dogs are preferred by the store’s management since it means the handlers or those accompanying them have complete control over the dog.

Are Small Dogs Allowed In Walmart?

According to Walmart’s policy, only service dogs are allowed in the store regardless of their size or stature. However, since this kind of dog is usually medium to large, disguising your small pet as a service dog will be immediately detected. That is a punishable offense.

Are Non-Service Dogs Allowed In Walmart?

No. Following the ADA’s guidelines, the staff can approach you and ask two questions about your service dog:

  • Is the service dog needed because of a disability?
  • Which task or activity has the service dog been trained to offer assistance?

Likewise, the staff has the right to request you to leave or to withdraw entry into Walmart if they suspect your service dog is not licensed or when it’s caught misbehaving.

Walmart replied to a tweet in 2017, clearly reinforcing the conditions of their policy: “If a service animal poses a threat to health or safety, Walmart can exclude the animal from a store at that time.”

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Can I Take My Puppy To Walmart?

As adorable as a puppy is, Walmart will still not permit it to enter their stores. If you cannot leave your pup alone at home, consider asking someone to keep it company until you return.

Do Service Dogs Have To Be On A Leash In Walmart?

No. However, they are better off on a leash to stop them from sniffing, licking, or touching food in aisles. It also helps to have a leash on dogs who tend to run away or roam freely when set loose.

Service dogs are taught to follow basic and advanced obedience training rules besides learning how to behave in public. To avoid getting yours in trouble, keep it on a leash while inside a Walmart store.

Does Walmart Allow Animals Inside?

No. Walmart doesn’t permit pets or animals of any kind to enter their stores.



Meet Paul, a devoted dog dad to the delightful French Bulldog, Cofi. With a flair for humor and a deep understanding of Frenchie quirks, Paul brings a lighthearted touch to his writings. His relatable stories and practical insights are a blend of laughter and valuable advice and resonate with fellow dog owners.

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