Every morning, Claude and I take a short walk into town to my office. We’ll walk past our local Starbucks each day, and I’ve often been tempted to go in and order a coffee… but had no idea what the Starbucks dog policy was so up until last week had never gone in with my dog.
However, this all changed a few days back when I decided to find out if Starbucks is dog friendly, and what their policy was. Here’s what I found out (and you might be shocked given that they can let you get a doggy puppuccino).
Is Starbucks dog friendly?
I walked into Starbucks with my dog Claude kind of expecting a decent reception. After all, it’s possible to buy a dog-friendly drink off the menu, so you would expect that it’s ok to take your dog into Starbucks… but I was admonished by the barista which I will come onto in a moment – here’s the short answer first:
Can you bring a dog into Starbucks? You cannot take your dog into Starbucks according to their nationwide dog policy. Whilst they might appear dog-friendly, the truth is, that’s only if your dog is outside the coffee shop. However, Starbucks do allow service and guide dogs inside their premises.
What happened when I took my small dog into Starbucks?
Below you can read what happened as best as I can describe it. This is my personal experience of what the Starbucks dog policy is like.
My morning wouldn’t be complete without a good old cup of coffee. It gives me the kick I need to start the day on a positive note.
I recently decided to take my French Bulldog Claude along with me to the coffee shop. Frenchies are a small breed, so I honestly didn’t think it would be an issue.
The moment I took my dog into Starbucks, all eyes were on me from the counter. We make our way over to the baristas to order my favorite latte. The first one we step up to give us a concerned and withering look.
“Good morning, how can I help you?”
I respond in kind and quickly ordered my latte to go. The barista turns his back to us, and I can see him chatting with a colleague in hushed tones. He then turns back to me and says:
“Are you aware of the Starbucks dog policy?”
I reply, no, I am not, and ask if I should leave. The barista comes back to me with:
“I will let it go this once as we’re quiet this morning. But as a policy, Starbucks is dog friendly, but dogs need to be left outside at all times. You cannot bring your dog into Starbucks unless he is aiding you, such as a guide dog or service dog, which I can see your small dog isn’t”.
Starbucks rules on dogs
OK, so that’s pretty clear now I know how dog friendly Starbucks is; friendly up until a point.
It’s just a shame that I had never seen any clearly signed notices up at Starbucks about what their dog policy was. I was a little bit embarrassed to say the least when the barista called me out.
And, to be honest, I was genuinely surprised at their policy. It didn’t occur to me that my beloved dog might not be welcome in the American mecca of coffee. After all, they give puppuccinos to dog owners!
According to Starbuck company policy, dogs aren’t allowed in Starbucks due to the nature of the establishment. This is a rule all of their employees should be familiar with.
As well all know, dogs can be fussy, noisy or even dangerous. Some people are scared of dogs, have allergies, plus dogs can carry disease into a food and beverage establishment.
Not everybody likes dogs, and those that don’t like mutts, won’t want the calm of their morning coffee disturbed by someone else’s dog.
In addition to that, a dog is not always hygienic. For this reason, it’s best to keep him out of anybody’s coffee or cake and drinking and eating space.
Can you bring small dogs into Starbucks?
It doesn’t matter how big or small your dog is. You cannot bring small dogs into Starbucks, unless it’s a guide or service dog – which is unlikely given your dog’s size.
However, the barista I dealt with did let Claude in as an exception that morning, which makes me think that there is probably some managerial leeway policy from outlet to outlet where there they impart their own rulings.
The reason I say that is because whilst the barista said I was not allowed to bring my dog into Starbucks due to policy, he did let us stay inside, saying:
“I see that yours is a small bulldog. We’ll let you in as long as you control him and he doesn’t’ bother or upset any customers here now, or new ones that come in.”
Can you carry a dog into Starbucks?
Even if you want to carry a small chihuahua into Starbucks in a handbag, this is still a no-no according to their policy.
However, that morning, I was allowed to carry my dog to and from the seat we were at. The barista was happy that I had Claude under control whilst we were in the coffee shop.
The barista then came over to our table and explained to me what the Starbucks dog policy was on service and guide dogs.
The Starbucks service dog policy
Service dogs are recognized in most industries around the world. They are allowed on planes, in taxis, cruise ships, New York and London cabs and even in hotels as well as some vacation resorts.
Some of these animals are guide dogs to help their visually impaired owners navigate the world, others are service dogs that serve other supportive functions, including emotional support.
Scientific studies and psychological research have proven that pets can provide enough calm, assurance and companionship to cure Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in military veterans. You can read more about this fascinating topic on the Psychology Today website.
For these reasons, service animals are widely accepted into stores, including Starbucks. But this policy of being dog-friendly towards service and guide pets isn’t always applied by the employees of the company.
Back in 2014, Starbucks had a PR disaster when a veteran visited a Houston store and was asked to leave (see more on Fox News) – despite their dog being an official service dog. As a result, the Starbucks corporate machine rolled into action, and here’s what their response said:
“Starbucks always welcomes service animals to our stores, and we want every customer who spends time in our stores to enjoy their visit. At Starbucks, we are committed to educating our partners about our service animal policy and to ensuring that they follow it. When partners are first hired, they receive policy materials, we periodically retrain partners on the policy, and we issue reminders to all of our partners on an annual basis.”
But as a responsible owner bringing your service dog into Starbucks, you need to fulfil your part of the deal.
Your service dog needs to have their vest on. Often lime green or neon red in color and printed with the words “SERVICE DOG”, the vest signifies that your pet goes where you go at all times. He or she is there to help you manage your emotions or interact with the world.
In such a case, the Starbucks staff should not ask any questions regarding your dog’s presence in their place of business. You are also expected to carry along some identification for your dog proving that indeed, he or she is a registered service animal.
The barista may ask for this identification the moment you make your order. However, they may waive this formality at their discretion.
The barista in my local Starbucks explained this in a little more practical detail to me, and here’s a summary of what he said to me about the Starbucks service dog-friendly approach.
“The Starbucks dog policy indicates that employees are required to ask a few questions regarding service dogs. We can also ask, ‘is your dog a service animal?’ and to this, you’re expected to answer honestly. They can also enquire, ‘what type of service does your dog offer?’ and here, you can indicate that your dog is a seeing-eye dog, an emotional support dog or an epilepsy warning dog. You can also be asked to produce documents such as identification for your dog to corroborate your claim. Therefore, if you’ve got a service dog and want to take him along with you to Starbucks, expect to be asked these questions and also provide proof of your dog’s important responsibility in your life.”
The explanation was very informative, and I feel I was now much better informed now whether you can bring your dog into Starbucks or not.
As we concluded our conversation and I prepared to scoot off with coffee, the barista motioned me to stay a little while. He said he had a surprise for Claude.
The barista disappeared into the back for a few minutes, only to reappear with a small paper cup containing, yes, you’ve guessed it; a puppuccino!
What can you get your dog at Starbucks?
Yes, Starbucks really does have a drink for dogs although it doesn’t have any caffeine in for very obvious reasons! I had heard about it but assumed it was an urban legend.
The barista handed it to me and proudly exclaimed, it’s was a puppuccino. He explained that it’s a mixture of whipped cream and water that dogs go crazy for.
After sensing the concerns, he quickly added that it was quite safe for my dog. It’s a special drink for service dogs so I graciously thanked the good young man for his patience and let Claude enjoy a sip.
Needless to say, we’d both learned so much that day.
As we left the store, we both had a pep in our step. It was a good day to have visited Starbucks together and I think Claude would agree!
Does Starbucks UK allow dogs?
For my UK readers you might be wondering if it’s ok to take your dog into Starbucks in the United Kingdom or if the policy is the same as the one state-side?
From what I can gather, the Starbucks dog-friendly rules extend just to service and guide dogs as they do in the United States. Both the UK and US have similar laws which Starbucks adheres to.
To conclude, whilst dogs are not allowed in Starbucks, individual stores will bend the rules for you. It appears to be down to local management a lot of the time to act on discretion when it’s not a service or guide dog.
Having spoken to dog owners and coffee lovers on social media, the general observation is that many Starbucks are quite lax about the rules on dogs, providing that the dog does not bother anybody.
If your dog is a service animal, make sure that they have their vest on and you won’t have any problems at all (according to company policy anyway). Just as a precaution, if you intend to visit Starbucks with your service dog, carry some identification for him too.
This will satisfy any overly curious staff members. Overall, Starbucks is friendly to service animals.
They even serve puppuccinos for your pooch!
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