As dog owners we don’t like to leave our pup out of things. After all, they are part of the family so should be able to come on all trips with us, including going shopping! And if you have a well-behaved dog, it stands to reason that you trust them to come into your local store.
If that shop is Sainsburys, you might be wondering whether it’s a dog friendly supermarket and what their policy on dogs is… I decided to find out. Here’s what I discovered:
Can I take my dog in Sainsburys? You are not allowed to take or carry your dog into Sainsburys’ stores. The only exception to this rule on the Sainsburys’ dog policy is if your dog is a service or guide dog helping you due to a disability. Sainsburys is not dog friendly in the traditional sense, and as to date has no plans to change their policy.
So, there you have it… you can’t take your dog into Sainsburys unless it’s a guide dog or support dog. But even then, you might get into some trouble as I found from news report in 2019 – you won’t believe what happened (scroll down further to see).
The Sainsburys dog policy: is it dog friendly?
Whilst it might make your life a lot easier if this supermarket simply relented and said that dogs are allowed in Sainsburys, you need to take into account the reasons why they have this policy in place and why Sainsburys isn’t dog friendly.
One important factor is health of safety; for example, your dog could come into contact with fresh foods, meats, and so on – leading to dangerous contamination. Dogs can also be hazardous and potentially trip people over in a store such as Sainsburys.
Then you have people who might be allergic to dogs or who are just really scared of them. You can imagine that Sainsburys’ dog policy is designed with the intention to not get involved in any potential lawsuits!
When you add all of these factors together, you should soon understand why Sainsburys don’t let you bring dogs into their supermarkets. Here’s what their policy states:
“All dog-owners are asked to leave their dogs outside, unless the dog is assisting a person with a disability. Sainsburys staff also offer customers with guide dogs help with their shopping, if they would like assistance.”
Can I carry my dog in Sainsburys?
Just because you have a small dog that doesn’t change the rules. Small dogs are also not allowed in Sainsburys, and don’t think you can simply carry the dog in a handbag or under your arm – it’s a hard and fast rule applied to all dogs.
According to Sainsburys’ dog policy and you are not allowed to carry your dog into their shops, and it doesn’t matter if it’s a small dog breed (think chihuahua) either.
Ultimately the rule is the same for all dog owners. You cannot bring your dog into the Sainsburys stores no matter the size unless it’s a guide dog.
Therefore, Sainsburys is not dog friendly.
What does UK law say about dogs coming into shops?
The UK does not have an over-arching law about whether dogs are prohibited from coming into shops or not. In fact, if you own a pub, store, or public place it’s down to your own discretion as the venue owner to decide.
If you are a dog owner, look out for a sign on the door of the shop. Dog friendly venues will always have signage in the window saying that dogs are allowed inside.
However, when you get to large corporations who are part of a global chain such as Sainsburys, they tend to have dog policies that are applied to each and every store with no exceptions. You can typically find the policy on whether dogs are allowed in on their websites.
If you cannot find the store’s up to date dog policy, one quick phone call or email into their customer services team is the best route for getting an answer.
However, there is legality around certain aspects that has been set out by the UK’s Food Standards Agency. This Scottish organisation is responsible for food safety law for the whole of the UK. This legislation is all about premises where food is prepared for public consumption.
Here’s what the FSA says:
“Adequate procedures are also to be in place to prevent domestic animals from having access to places where food is prepared, handled or stored.”
That essentially means that dogs should not really be allowed into certain types of stores… and this applies to Sainsburys very well, as they have an in-house bakery and a kiosk for fresh meat, cheese and fish. Sainsburys also display a large amount of fresh dairy, fruit and vegetables all over different aisles.
Why are guide dogs allowed in Sainsburys then?
Although dogs are not allowed in Sainsburys stores, assistance and guide dogs are permitted.
This is despite a very embarrassing incident in 2019 where a disabled woman was ejected from an Sainsburys store in Basingstoke because she had her support dog with her!
Despite telling staff that she was registered disabled, the staff guard said the support dog wasn’t real, ordering her and her dog out of the shop!
Obviously, this was a mistake on Sainsburys’ part, but just goes to show that improvements need to be made in how they train and educate their staff for such incidents.
In response to this terrible public relations disaster, Sainsburys have made their guidelines on the matter clearer and had this to say:
“We have apologised to Rebecca for her experience and provided her with a gesture of goodwill so that we can welcome her back into store with Maxxy.”
Guide dogs are exempt from banning rules
Under the Equality Act of 2010, guide dogs are exempt from rules by businesses banning dogs. As a national law, all businesses under the United Kingdom, big or small, are legally required to allow guide dogs into their stores.
This is because guide dogs are classed as a ‘mobility aid’, meaning that it is a reasonable adjustment made by the law to ensure that disabled customers get equal treatment.
Guide dogs are also especially well-trained (they even go to a special school!), which means that they can be trusted not to sniff around food areas and contaminate them. Their focus is solely on the person they’ve been assigned to.
In other words, no shop in the UK is allowed to ban a person from entering with a guide dog, and that includes Sainsburys and any national store (for example here’s Tesco’s dog policy).
Do dog friendly policies differ between stores?
Whilst most of the national supermarket chains have very similar rules about dogs being allowed in (apart from guide dogs), there are some exceptions to the rules which you can see below.
- John Lewis: This store conducted a trial period of letting dogs in and decided in July of 2019 that they would let dogs in providing the dog was well behaved, on a short lead, or was carried by their owners.
- Waterstones: This bookstore are far more laid back when it comes to our canine friends. They let the individual store manager set their own dog friendly policy. Some Waterstones even leave drinking water outside for dogs.
- Selfridges: In what is probably a more unique approach, Selfridges only allow dogs into their smaller branches. The only dogs they permit are smaller ones that can be either carried by their owner or placed in something called a ‘holdall’ – which is essentially a carrier bag made for small dogs to be transported in!
And there you have it. The question on whether dogs are allowed in Sainsburys is pretty simple. Small dogs can’t come in, large dogs can’t come in – in fact, no dogs can be carried or brought into Sainsburys unless they are guide dogs or support dogs.
However, this might change in the future, and Sainsburys may one day become dog friendly. We’ve seen how John Lewis can change their policy, so you never know what the future holds!
For now though, you can take a dog into Sainsburys, but only if it’s a guide dog!
Handy Hint: If you live in the United States, the Sainsburys equivalent is Walmart – here’s what their dog policy is.