Are Dogs Allowed In Walmart? 3 Important Rules to Know

Written by Sam Hindman
Published: November 5, 2023
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Shopping, like any day-to-day activity, is much more fun and exciting when your furry friend accompanies you! It makes perfect sense why one would want to bring their dog with them to the store. Unfortunately, not every store is as excited about your pooch’s presence as you are. In this article, we detail not only whether or not dogs are allowed in Walmart but also their general policy about pets. So, if you’re planning an upcoming shopping trip, this article will lay down the details of your dog tagging along.

The Pet Policy At Walmart

Dogs in Shopping Cart

The official Walmart pet policy is detailed on their website.

©Wind Wolf Photography/iStock via Getty Images

Officially, the policy on whether or not dogs or other pets are allowed in Walmart is stated as follows on their website: “Walmart welcomes service animals as defined by the ADA in our stores, and we recognize the important role they play in many of our customers’ lives. We do not allow pets in our stores.”

Granted, some customers report that their local Walmart has never made an issue with them bringing in their well-behaved pet dogs. This no-pet rule seems to be the general standard, but there may be exceptions made in some circumstances.

ADA Guidelines and Regulations

Man with disability and service dog

Walmart may not allow regular pets, but they make an exception for service animals.

©24K-Production/iStock via Getty Images

As mentioned on their site, Walmart makes exceptions for service animals brought into their stores. The ADA (American Disability Act) protects service animals because of the tasks they can perform to help their owners. Of course, even these dogs allowed in Walmart need to have good behavior and refrain from disturbing other customers.

How Can Walmart Employees Tell If A Dog Is A Service Animal?

This is a tough one. Legally speaking, employees cannot ask someone to show proof of disability. They cannot even ask for evidence that the dog is trained as a service animal. However, there are two things that the employees are allowed to ask about: Whether or not the dog is, in fact, a service animal and what specific work this dog is trained to do. If a customer cannot answer these two questions, it can be grounds to ask the customer to remove their pet from the premises.

Are Emotional Support Animals Considered Service Animals?

Emotional Support Animals (ESA) might be classified as a type of support animal, but they aren’t protected under the ADA. They bring great comfort to their owners and certainly play an incredibly valuable role, but this, unfortunately, does not give them the merit to enter a space with so many food products.

The same rules apply to therapy dogs, which are also not protected under the ADA. This said, if you feel as though you absolutely cannot shop without your ESA or therapy dog, you can always call the Walmart you plan on visiting beforehand and see if accommodations can be made. This courtesy may give you a higher chance of them agreeing to allow your dog inside.

Why Can’t Normal Dogs Be Allowed In Walmart?

Cute little puppy dog sitting in a shopping cart on blurred shop mall background with people. selective focus macro shot with shallow DOF top view

There are, unfortunately, some good reasons why Walmart doesn’t allow pets.

©skrotov/iStock via Getty Images

The primary reason why Walmart doesn’t allow ordinary dogs into their stores is because their presence violates FDA guidelines. You see, these codes state that bringing pets into stores can be unsanitary and risk contaminating the store’s food with bacteria. This is fair, and it’s not even the only viable reason why dogs aren’t allowed. Here are some more things to consider when questioning this policy:

  • Some dogs are infected with pests like fleas or ticks.
  • There may be other customers that are frightened of dogs.
  • There may be other customers that are allergic to dogs.
  • If a dog is not well-trained, it might run off. Or, worse, have an accident.
  • Leashes run the risk of becoming tangled in the legs of other customers.

Rules to Know When Bringing Dogs Into Walmart

Asian man push his french bulldog in pet stroller walking in pets friendly shopping mall. Domestic dog and owner enjoy urban outdoor lifestyle travel city on summer vacation. Pet Humanization concept.

There are certain rules one should follow if one would like to bring their dog into any store.


If you do have a qualifying service animal, or if you live in an area that has a location that identifies as “pet-friendly” and does allow dogs in their Walmart (some of these do exist, though sparingly) there are some rules to consider. These rules aren’t unique to Walmart, either. These are general rules that pet owners should take into consideration any time they bring animals into a public space.

Good Behavior is Key

If you have a puppy or service dog in training, think about their behavior before welcoming them into this space. If you cannot fully believe that your dog will not display any aggressive behaviors, and will otherwise listen to and follow your commands, then it might not be a good decision to bring them into this sort of area. Even if you have an older dog, if they lack proper socialization, it’s probably better to leave them at home.

The Importance of Hygiene

Some people have an aversion to dogs being in stores in the first place. This discouragement is exacerbated greatly when things like poor grooming and general uncleanliness are thrown into the mix. If you’re bringing your dog into a public space like Walmart, try to be mindful of these things. In addition, make sure that your dog is up-to-date on all of their vaccinations and has no health conditions that could spread to other customers.

Be Considerate

The last and likely most important rule is that, above all else, you should be considerate of the other customers. Even if you have a service animal, it’s important to recognize that there may be customers who have allergies. This means intentionally keeping a safe distance from other customers and keeping control of your animal at all times. And, in the case of your dog having an accident, it’s important that you clean up after them. It is your responsibility to take care of these things in consideration of not only the other customers but also the hardworking employees who would otherwise have to do so on your behalf.

The photo featured at the top of this post is ©

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About the Author

Sam Hindman is a writer at A-Z animals covering a range of topics, including pet care, plant care, pest control and travel destinations. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor's Degree in Multimedia Studies at Point Park University, set to graduate in the spring of 2024. A resident of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, when she isn't writing, she's spending time with her beloved cat Archie.

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