Shopping with your furry friend is fun and exciting, but is it always allowed? Different stores have different rules, and while some companies don’t mind four-legged fluffs walking around their enterprise, some, on the other hand, are legally obliged not to allow dogs inside.
Whether some stores are classified as dog-friendly stores generally depends on the type of the store and its business. For example, grocery stores and other food establishments usually don’t allow animals inside due to the violation of health and safety laws.
So, what about Costco? Is Costco dog friendly?
Since Costco is a very versatile corporation that sells groceries, household essentials, and even pet supplies, many dog owners often wonder, “can I take my dog to Costco?”
The best answer would be yes and no, and to understand why that is so, we need to look deeper into the Costco dog policy and company’s regulations. So, let’s begin our shopping spree through Costco!
Is Costco Dog Friendly?
First of all, we need to look at what exactly one thinks when asking this question. If you are wondering if Costco is dog friendly in the sense that it carries some dog products and supplies, the answer would be yes!
Costco is a fantastic place that offers a wide variety of pet supplies at a great price. From dog food and different dog supplies to even dog medicine, you’ll find everything you need for your little or big pooch at your local Costco.
However, if you are wondering does Costco allow dogs inside their building, the answer would be again, yes, but there is a but to this little answer, after all.
According to the Costco pet policy, only dogs that are considered service dogs by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) are allowed to enter Costco’s warehouses. This means that pet dogs and other non-service animals will be denied access according to the store’s policy.
Before we give a more detailed description of the policy and explain what this exactly means, it would be better to mention some important facts about this famous American retailer first. Let’s meet the Costco Wholesale Corporation.
Costco – A Warehouse Club
Costco Wholesale Corporation, or Costco for short, is one of the most famous warehouse retailers in America and around the world.
Costco is a membership warehouse club, which means that it sells bulk quantities of merchandise at a very discounted price to Costco members, who in return pay an annual membership fee. It offers a wide variety of supermarket items and other merchandise.
Often the warehouse comes with additional businesses such as pharmacies, food courts, gas stations, and many others. Although originally from the USA, Costco has recently expanded its businesses also to some parts of Europe, Canada, Mexico, Australia, and New Zealand.
All Costco stores are usually big, warehouse stores with a lot of space inside, which makes it easier for customers with dogs to walk around and shop happily.
The Official Costco Pet Policy
The official Costco corporate page states that only service dogs are allowed to enter their building. All Costco members that have with them their service animals will have all rights to enter freely inside the warehouse, even with their dogs.
This service pet policy has been adopted in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which prohibits any discrimination against people with disabilities.
This effectively means that no other pets are allowed to enter, so pet dogs or emotional support dogs (ESA) do not qualify for immediate access.
Under the ADA, the Costco company, in general, is permitted to double-check whether your dog is actually an accredited service dog. As stated on the website, a Costco employee is allowed to ask you two questions in order to verify if your animal is a service animal:
• “Is that a service animal?”
• “What task or function is it trained to perform?”
Costco’s staff can legally ask you to answer those only two questions regarding the verification of your service animal and what task it has been trained to perform.
If by any chance the shopper is unable to answer those two questions and accordingly prove they indeed have a working service animal, they might be asked to leave the shopping center or to come back without their dog.
However, Costco employees are not allowed to ask their customers to show documentation of their service animals’ status.
The official pet policy was adopted to give notice to everyone that no health or safety laws have been broken, the policy was adopted in compliance with the ADA, and that service animals allowed in Costco are working animals specially trained to help customers with certain tasks or functions.
Why Only Service Animals?
So, most grocery stores don’t allow dogs inside unless the dog is a special service animal, but do you know why is that so?
The reason for this is that grocery stores and other food establishments have to abide by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines that state that no live animals of any kind are permitted in grocery stores, restaurants, and other food establishments.
The law was set in order to protect the national food supply and people from contamination. Dogs are still animals, and they, unfortunately, might carry with them some toxins which can then be found on store shelves, counters, and food.
Animals are considered unsanitary, so it is highly important to protect the food from dog urine, drool, feces, hair, and other dog material.
Additionally, some people might be severely allergic to dog hair, which is a health hazard. Dogs are not the only animals prohibited from entering grocery stores because this law also applies to cats, birds, and other kinds of animals.
Are there exceptions? Of course!
In spite of the general rule, some dogs are allowed to enter, after all. As we have previously mentioned, service animals are allowed in most grocery stores, restaurants, and other food establishments.
Besides service animals, under certain circumstances, dogs working for the police or security officers can be allowed to enter Costco and other stores. For example, in the case of a hot pursuit of the criminal and other working activities.
Behind The Scenes: Dogs In Stores
Although the official Costco pet policy forbids all non-service dogs inside their stores, in reality, the situation in many Costco stores is a little bit different.
Just a little disclaimer; please use this information at your own risk, we do not take any responsibility for your action, and we advise you to always be safe and ask whether your dog is allowed to enter with you or not.
Through our research of Costco’s dog friendliness, we have noticed that not every Costco store is so strict about this pet policy. It appears that a dog policy varies from store to store and from one store manager to another.
While some stores may be strictly against any dogs in their warehouses, your local store might not have any problem with it.
In fact, many Costco employees have confirmed that, as long as your dog is not aggressive, does not leave any mess behind, or scares other customers, he or she is allowed to come inside.
Additionally, they state that it is too time-consuming to check every customer for validation of service dog status, so most managers allow dogs to enter if they are behaving nicely. However, the dogs should always be leashed and never inside the shopping cart.
If your dog is misbehaving, you are most likely going to be asked to leave the warehouse or remove your pet, no matter if your dog is a service dog or not.
About Service Animals
A service dog is any dog (big or small dog) that has been individually trained to perform certain tasks or functions to assist people with disabilities.
Many people use different dog breeds and different kinds of animals to help them in their everyday life since they cannot do it alone.
Although sometimes disability might not be visible or obvious at first glance, it certainly does not mean that a person does not require a service dog.
They can be trained to perform various tasks. Among dozens of tasks they can be trained to perform, we will highlight just some of them, such as assisting a person in walking, picking up items, or perhaps alerting a person for various health reasons.
Service dogs are generally a necessity and, therefore, must be allowed to enter any store with customers.
Under the ADA, service animals are not required to wear a service dog vest, ID tag, or some kind of special harness. The handler of the service animal is completely responsible for taking care of the animal and for supervising it, no matter if it is considered a service animal.
The ADA restricts employees and managers from requesting any documentation for the dog or inquiring about the customer’s disability.
However, in situations when it is not obvious that the service animal is indeed a service dog, or employees have to double-check that it is not a fake service dog, the staff is permitted to ask two very specific questions that we have mentioned earlier:
• Is the dog a service dog, and what task is he trained to perform?
How To Recognize Fake Service Dogs?
Since usually only service dogs are allowed to enter most shopping centers, including Costco, many people, unfortunately, try to get inside the store by claiming that their regular pet is a service dog.
Not only is this legally not allowed, but it is usually easy to spot a fake service dog.
Currently, there are 23 states in the USA that have laws and fines against pet owners with fake service dogs, so be careful next time when you lie about your non-service animal.
Fake service dogs will always show some of these signs:
• the dog is barking and whining
• the dog is being carried or pushed in the shopping cart and not on a leash
• the dog is sniffing everything
• the dog is having “accidents”
• the dog is seeking attention and wants to be petted
• the dog is aggressive and not well-behaved
READ ALSO: Why Is My Dog Barking At Nothing?
What About Emotional Support Animals/Therapy Dogs?
Emotional support dogs, therapy dogs, or even so-called comfort dogs do not belong to the group of service animals under the ADA, nor are they allowed inside Costco.
Emotional support dogs are there to provide emotional relief and psychological support to their owners; however, they have not been trained to perform certain tasks, nor do they have protection when it comes to entering grocery stores.
Although both types of dogs are considered special forms of assistance, they are definitely not the same or considered equal. At least, not currently.
Costco Stores Around The World
While the situation in the USA regarding dogs in stores is not exactly as strict as stated by the dog policy, things are a little bit different with Costco stores around the world. Let’s see what some other Costcos have to say about bringing your pooch with you to shop:
Costco Canada has a very strict pet store policy. No animals of any kind are allowed in Costco Canada. The only exception are, of course, certified service animals, who are more than welcome in their stores.
As stated on their official social media account, the safety of their customers is and has always been their number one priority, and they wish to remain like that.
Pet dogs are not allowed, so it is better if you don’t try to bring your dog with you unless it is a certified service dog.
If you have any questions about your local store or would like to verify this information, it is always better to contact the store’s customer support which will give you all the answers and needed guidance.
Costco UK, Australia…?
We didn’t find anything different when it comes to the dog policy of other Costco stores around the world. Both Costco UK and Costco Australia have a strict dog policy that does not allow pet dogs, emotional support dogs, and other companion animals to enter their stores.
If you ever find yourself in some other part of the world, you’ll often find that, due to sanitary reasons and safety laws, only service dogs are allowed to enter most stores.
Are Dogs Allowed In IKEA?
Happy news for IKEA lovers because dogs are allowed in IKEA. As their pet policy states, pets are allowed in all their stores, however, when it comes to parts reserved for restaurants, bistros, and food areas, only service and therapy dogs with proper accreditation are allowed.
When visiting IKEA, each family is allowed to bring inside two pets, but they must be held on a leash, remain on the floor, or in carriers. It is not allowed to leave dogs unattended or tied to any object at any time, nor let them go on furniture in the shopping store or in relaxation areas.
Some dog breeds that are considered by IKEA as dangerous, aggressive, or generally trained to guard and attack must wear a muzzle. In addition to that, they must be held on a short lead at all times.
For the complete list of all dog breeds that belong to this category, check their official website and their regulations on pet access to IKEA stores.
Is Walmart Pet Friendly?
As stated by the official Walmart website, pets are not allowed in Walmart stores. However, since they do recognize the important role that service animals play in customer’s life, they have an exception to this no-pet rule which welcomes service animals recognized by the ADA.
Additionally, most Walmart stores have a sign at the entrance that, due to strict food safety regulations, non-service pets are not allowed in the store. Comfort and emotional support animals will also be denied entrance.
Is Lowe’s Pet And Dog Friendly?
Lowe’s is a very pet and dog-friendly company. According to their official pet policy, all pets and service animals are allowed inside the store. Your dog has to be well-behaved, on the leash, harnessed, or carried.
As a pet owner, you are also fully responsible for your furry friend, which means that you must clean up after him and control his actions and behavior.
Back in 2016, Lowe’s actually hired a veteran who needed a service dog which is just another major proof of how friendly the store exactly is. The dog even got a chance to wear its own employee vest! How amazing and cute is that, right?!
Is Macy’s Dog Friendly?
Macy’s is one of the stores that have a good reputation for being very dog friendly, as long as dogs are well-behaved and taken care of by their owners. However, store managers have the power to change the pet policy to what they find is the best for their store.
Service animals legally must always be allowed to enter anywhere, whereas emotional support animals are not part of the service animal group and may be denied access.
Even though Macy’s may be dog friendly, before going to the mall, you should take into account the crowds and everything that is going on inside because some dogs may find it too frightening for them.
Is Home Depot Dog Friendly?
So, the official pet policy for Home Depot states that only service dogs are allowed to enter the store. But, we have done some further research and found out this might not be true for all Home Depot stores.
Many stores throughout the USA don’t actually enforce this rule which means that most four-legged friends are allowed to enter.
This seems to vary by the location of the store, so if you want to be sure, it is better to call in advance and check if your puppy will actually be allowed to enter. As long as your dog is leashed, well-behaved, and you clean after him, there shouldn’t be any problems.
With our shopping guide, you never have to wonder again, “is Costco dog friendly?” Although its official dog policy states that the only dogs allowed in its warehouses are certified service dogs, in practice, a lot of Costco stores are actually open to all kinds of dogs.
However, this can be specific to certain stores, locations, and store managers, so to be safe, it is always better to ask before you go shopping with your doggy.
Service dogs are a special type of pet that have been trained to perform specific tasks and help their owners in day-to-day activities. They are a necessity to certain people, and it is completely understandable why they are allowed in almost all stores.
Since grocery stores sell food that must not be contaminated, they should definitely not be a place for animals.
Even though you might not mind having your dog walk around the food isles, some people are perhaps allergic to dog hair or really scared of dogs, so next time you try to sneak your dog inside the store, please keep this in mind also.