Are Dogs Allowed in Walmart? The Not-So Dog Friendly Policy!

are dogs allowed in Walmart

As animal lovers we all like to assume that we have the best-behaved pooch on the block. We probably think there’s no reason why our dog should not be allowed into Walmart. However, we all need to respect health and safety rulings around the country, and Walmart’s dog policy is no different.

But how dog friendly is Walmart, and do they even allow dogs inside? Here’s what I found out after speaking to my local store manager and doing some online research.

Are dogs allowed in Walmart? Walmart does not allow dogs unless the animal is a service dog. Their policy clearly states that only service dogs that assist people with disabilities are allowed in the store. Dog owners can be challenged to prove their dog’s credentials when entering.

Does Walmart allow dogs? 

This means that whilst your local Walmart manager might let the odd dog in, or have no issue with pets coming in, it’s actually against company policy. People who see you with your dog will have every right to report it to the store management and get you ejected.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a small dog you’re carrying, an emotional support dog, a puppy, or even a dog you are pushing in a stroller (yes, I’ve seen this happen), you won’t be permitted to bring your pet in.

Why normal dogs are not allowed in Walmart?

There are some very valid reasons why Walmart does not allow dogs other than service animals, with the main one being down to health and contamination risks.

Dogs cannot come into Walmart due to health codes about premises where food is sold and served. According to The FDA’s food service codes, animals in stores is unsanitary.

Here’s a list of reasons including health related issues:

  • Some shoppers will suffer from allergies relating to dog hair.
  • Dogs could contaminate foods in Walmart.
  • Some dogs can have fleas or ticks.
  • Some people will be fearful of dogs.
  • Not all dog owners are able to exercise proper control over their pet.
  • Even the best trained dogs could mess on the store floor.
  • A dog on a leash can be hazardous in small and busy places like Walmart aisles.

Why are service dogs in Walmart different?

Service dogs should be clearly identifiable. They will usually have a brightly colored dog jacket on, and the owners are also able to provide proof with documentation.

You might be thinking why service dogs are different to normal dogs? Surely, they all have the same germs and possible behaviors? And in truth, you are right in many ways, however there are some key differences that set them apart from normal dogs.

For example, service dogs have been trained to not defecate or urinate on indoor floors (yes, I know your dog probably has too). They are also trained to not attack people and be calm under stress.

That makes them a lot lower risk when coming into a store like Walmart and they serve an important function in helping the disabled person shop.

The Walmart dog policy 

To avoid any confusion on whether or not Walmart is dog friendly, here’s what their most recent dog policy says. You can the policy on signs put up outside the stores.

Service animals welcome. No Pets.

If you see an un-trained pet where food is sold, contact your local health department. 

  • 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 person with disabilities.
  • Comfort or emotional support animals are not service animals.

We apologize for any inconvenience.

Can I bring my puppy into Walmart?

No, you can’t bring your puppy into Walmart no matter how cute and small he or she is. The same policy applies, with the store only being dog-friendly to those that can prove they are a service animal.

Can I take my dog in Walmart in a stroller?

With the rise of dog strollers in recent years, it’s raised an interesting question on whether it’s ok to use them to carry your dog into stores.

As far as Walmart are concerned, you are not allowed to bring your dog in a stroller at all. Only services dogs are permitted in their policy.

However, I can understand why there are two sides to this argument. Firstly, a dog in a stroller will be unable to mess on the floor, might not scare people who don’t like dogs, and could reduce the contamination risk to foods.

On the other hand, you will have people who simply think taking your dog into Walmart in a stroller is acceptable – and in truth, contamination is still likely to occur and some people could still suffer allergies.

Can I take my emotional support dog to Walmart?

In recent years there has been some confusion over Walmart’s dog policy.

It’s easy to understand why, as some Walmart managers are laxer than others when it comes to letting dogs in the store. You might have even seen someone walking or carrying their dog down an aisle.

However, as an overall nationwide policy, emotional support dogs are not allowed in Walmart. As previously discussed, it’s only service dogs that are allowed in Walmart stores.

In 2019 the Walmart dog policy gained press attention after they put signs up outside the stores saying “Service Animals Welcome. No Pets.” You can see a photo of the policy sign below.

does Walmart allow dogs
This is the new sign that appeared outside Walmart stores in 2019. It generated a lot of social media debate on what constitutes a service dog.

A spokesperson told the Business Insider website that:

“The policy itself hasn’t changed. The signage at our stores are new to clarify what is allowed and not allowed in our stores. We welcome service animals in our stores and serve customers that rely on them as part of their daily lives.”

Whilst this wasn’t a change in dog policy for Walmart, it did generate a lot of social media commentary from people on both sides of the fence; some who think emotional support dogs should be allowed in, and others not.

Here are two polar opposite opinions I found on Facebook:

“I think the Walmart dog policy is great. All service animals should have a vest, all others that do not have one should be asked to leave. Real service animals wear vests, indicating their main focus is to the owner and bothering the animal makes it lose focus on the owner resulting in harm to the owner.” 

“I completely disagree with your comment! PTSD dogs are emotional support and are service dogs as well! The ADA does not require service animals to wear a vest, ID tag, or specific harness. Also, service animals are not required to be certified, nor are they required to have proof of training or a license. The Americans with Disabilities Act was written this way to protect the privacy of people with disabilities.”

There were also some very relevant tweets leading up to the signage being placed. Here are some screenshots of people discussing how pet and dog friendly Walmart should be.

can you bring dogs into walmart
Here’s what some people on Twitter think about bringing dogs and pets into Walmart stores.


Related questions

Now you know that Walmart is dog friendly, providing it’s a service dog, I wanted to round up this guide with other questions people commonly ask on Google, Facebook, and online forums about the pet policy of the Walmart stores.

Can I carry my dog in Walmart? 

Just because you carry your dog it doesn’t mean you can flout the rules. You might see Paris Hilton walking around carrying a little Chihuahua in her bag, but even she’d be asked to leave!

You are not allowed to carry dogs into Walmart either in a bag, under your arm, or hidden under your coat – and yes, this does happen!

Can I take a small dog into Walmart?

The rules are the rules, no matter how small your dog. The Walmart dog policy is very clear; you cannot bring little dogs into Walmart, unless they are service dogs.

And of course, you don’t really get small dogs working as service or guide dogs, so it’s extremely unlikely you will ever see a small or tiny dog being walked or carried through Walmart – even if they are your emotional support dog.

What do other US stores think about dogs?

A lot of other high-profile national chains have made the headlines for their unique approaches to customers taking dogs into their businesses. See some of the most interesting ones below:

  • Lowes & Home Depot: Unlike Walmart, store doesn’t have to ban dogs due to food being prepared. That means you can take your dog in with no problems.
  • Barnes & Noble: It appears that their dog policy is set on a store to store level. Phone ahead and ask the manager if it’s ok to bring your puppy in.
  • Petsmart: It goes without saying that you take your four-legged friends into this store. In fact, it could be the social highlight of your pup’s week!
  • Walgreens: This store has a very similar policy to Walmart which only lets service dogs onto their premises.


So, when your friend next asks “can I take my dog into Walmart” you now know the drill! Dogs aren’t allowed in unless used as service animals.

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Marc Aaron

I write about the things we've learned about owning dogs, the adventures we have, and any advice and tips we've picked up along the way.

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