If your dog is young, well-behaved and doesn’t like being left home alone, you might think it’s completely reasonable to take your dog into Tesco as you do your weekly shop. As a dog owner and a former retail worker, I personally can see both sides of the argument. Here’s the quick answer to the question but do scroll down for exceptions to the rule and an alarming incident I found in the news.
Can I take my dog in Tesco? You cannot take or carry your dog into Tesco or Tesco Express unless it is a service or guide dog who is helping a person with a disability. This means that Tesco is not dog friendly in the traditional sense, and as to date has no plans to change their policy.
The Tesco dog policy
Although there are lots of reasons why it might make your life easier if dogs are allowed in Tesco, other important factors must be considered.
For example, it might be a breach of health of safety policies in the store due to the dog potentially coming into contact with fresh produce, knocking things over or affecting customers who have allergies to dogs or phobias.
These factors have led to Tesco taking a strict stance on dogs coming into their stores. The national UK Tesco dog policy across all stores is as follows:
“All dog-owners are asked to leave their dogs outside, unless the dog is assisting a person with a disability. Tesco staff also offer customers with guide dogs help with their shopping, if they would like assistance.”
Can I carry my dog in Tesco?
You might think that it ok to simply carry your small dog into Tesco… in the style of Paris Hilton perhaps with the chihuahua in her bag! But… this is also prohibited in Tesco’s dog policy and you cannot carry your dog into their store, no matter how small the dog is.
The bottom line is this; small dogs are not allowed in Tesco, big dogs are not allowed in Tesco, no dogs are allowed in Tesco! With exception of course to the guide and service dogs I referred to earlier.
Tesco is not dog friendly.
What is the law around dogs in shops?
In the UK, there is no specific law surrounding dogs in shops. For most types of businesses, including pubs, department stores and supermarkets, it is entirely down to the discretion of the owner.
The business owner will often indicate with a sign on their door whether dogs are allowed, but if this isn’t present then it is good to check with a member of staff before bringing your dog into the shop.
If the business is part of a bigger, national chain such as Tesco, you will be able to find their stance on dogs in their stores either online or on their social media.
Alternatively, you could phone or email the specific chain of the store to find out their stance on dogs in shops in advance, as some chains might differ from others.
So, whilst the question of dogs being allowed in shops is usually at the owner’s discretion, there are universal rules and limitations when it comes to businesses that involve food preparation.
The Food Standards Agency (although it is a Scottish organisation, it’s rules are applicable to the whole of the UK) states that to ensure food hygiene is at an acceptable standard:
“Adequate procedures are also to be in place to prevent domestic animals from having access to places where food is prepared, handled or stored.”
Indeed, with dogs mostly being beloved household pets, they would come under the Food Standards Agency’s classification of ‘domestic animals’. Although it might seem a little strange, if you think about it, it really does make sense to keep dogs away from food preparation and storage considering they’re known for drinking out of the toilet!
Nonetheless, a consequence of this rule is that any business which involves elements of food preparation and storage are required to have policies in place to prevent them from having access to and potentially contaminating anything which might later be consumed by humans.
This can lead to a partial ban from some areas of the business, like pubs where dogs are only allowed in outdoor seating areas far away from the kitchen, or, in the case of Tesco, a full ban on dogs.
The reason why Tesco instils a full ban on dogs in store is largely due to these guidelines by Food Standards Agency. As well as having an in-house bakery and a kiosk for fresh meat, cheese and fish, they also display a large amount of fresh dairy, fruit and vegetables all over different aisles in their stores.
In turn, it would be near impossible to keep track on where dogs are and what has been contaminated all times of the day, so in terms of food hygiene the safest option is to wholly ban dogs from their store.
Why are assistance dogs allowed in Tesco, but not other dogs?
Although other dogs are banned from Tesco stores, assistance dogs are permitted. This is despite a slightly awkward incident for the company a few years ago, where a blind customer was left in tears after multiple Tesco cashiers in a North London branch told her that no pet dogs, even guide dogs, were allowed.
Luckily, since then, Tesco have made their guidelines on the matter clearer and said in response to the matter:
“We do allow guide dogs in stores and have reminded colleagues of that. We also offer customers with guide dogs help with their shopping, if they would like assistance.”
This is because under the Equality Act 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.
What do other UK 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:
After a successful trial period in their Peter Jones department store in London, John Lewis announced in July that they were rolling out a new policy across all their stores that would allow all dogs – not just guide dogs – to accompany their owners on their shopping trips.
The only restriction is that the dogs must be well-behaved and need to either be kept on a short lead or carried by their owners.
Waterstones are another famous chain who have a more relaxed approach to dogs in their stores. It’s left to the discretion of individual managers, and some branches even go to the trouble of leaving bowls of water out for your dog, so they can remain refreshed and hydrated as you continue your shopping trip.
The location of the branch also plays a role in assessing whether dogs should be allowed in.
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!
Paris Hilton will be ok then!
Asda has very similar rules to Tesco, and in fact has had a similar public relations disaster regarding a guide dog owner being asked to leave. You can read more about Asda being do friendly or not here.
As you have seen, the question of whether dogs are allowed in Tesco is complicated. Although most dogs aren’t allowed, Tesco follow legal guidelines by making an exception for guide dogs, allowing them to come into their store along with their customers.
The case of John Lewis, however, demonstrated that big chains can change their mind on dogs coming into their stores at any time – so you never know what the rules might be in five or ten years from now – it could be that Tesco is dog friendly one day.
But to conclude, you can take your dog into Tesco but only if it’s providing assistance to you… so the next time someone asks you are dogs allowed in Tesco, you know what to say (for now)!