Should dogs be allowed in stores?

Discussion
Photo: @arielle.dollinger via Twenty20
Feb 23, 2022

Wilko, the U.K.-based houseware’s chain, has received a largely positive response — but also a few complaints — to its decision to make two-thirds of its stores pet-friendly.

The move followed a successful pilot at two locations.

A pet is more than just a pet, they’re family. That’s why we’ve decided to welcome pets in-store at 248 of our locations 🤩,” Wilko wrote in a Facebook post in early February. “We hope that shoppers will enjoy bringing their furry friends along with them 🐶

Pets must be kept on leashes and are not allowed in food aisles. Participating stores primarily have on-street entrances.

The post has earned more than 10,000, most of which welcome the decision. Some shoppers said their pets help them to stay relaxed. Others said it meant they will no longer have to risk having their pet stolen while tied up outside.

Not everyone is pleased, however, with some calling the activity “unhygienic” and others raising concerns about pet phobias or potential dog misbehavior.

One disappointed customer wrote, “This is no good for my child that has anaphylaxis reactions to animal dander and saliva. Service dogs have their place in stores and we can avoid them and monitor, they are well behaved etc.. pets do not belong in stores.”

Many of the positive responses were reactions to negative ones. One said, “Get a grip people. Dogs are often better behaved than some humans!”

Andrew Goodacre, CEO at the British Independent Retailers Association, told the BBC that the move could help store traffic. He said, “There’s many more pet owners out there, partly because of Covid, and I think there is a great acceptance of pets.”

In the U.S., it’s rare to find a dog alongside their owner in a store, with the exception of guide or service dogs. Under federal guidelines, dogs and other animals are not allowed in restaurants, grocery stores and other places where food is prepared.

Many U.S. cities are known for their pet-friendly shopping policies. Most outdoor malls allow dogs on leashes in common areas, with some stores allowing dogs on a leash or in a carrier.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Are you for or against allowing dogs inside stores? Are the concerns small enough and the benefits big enough for many more U.S. stores to install pet-friendly policies?

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Braintrust
"While I love dogs, I think we need to respect the needs of those affected negatively and limit dogs in stores to service dogs."

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23 Comments on "Should dogs be allowed in stores?"


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Steve Rowen
BrainTrust

No. And “stress relief ostriches” should also be left at the door. 🙂

Gary Sankary
BrainTrust

So, no peacocks on planes right?

Dick Seesel
BrainTrust

Speaking as a lifelong dog owner, I find this idea hard to support for a number of reasons. (With the obvious exceptions of service dogs and pet stores, where dogs are welcome.) First, hygiene is a legitimate concern — some dogs shed copiously, others drool, and dogs are not necessarily clean unless they just got a bath. Second, stores are inviting a problem with customers who may be allergic to dog hair. Finally, not all dogs “play nice” with each other or with humans of all ages and sizes, even if they are leashed and harnessed.

Even though I own the world’s best dog, the risks — in terms of potential liability to the retailer and the safety of other shoppers — outweigh the benefits.

Neil Saunders
BrainTrust

Yes, they should be allowed in stores. But I like dogs and seeing them makes me happy. I know that not everyone feels the same and some people have concerns around hygiene and safety, which is why this probably won’t become mainstream. However, I always think well of stores that place water bowls for dogs outside – something that is especially welcome in sunny Arizona!

Lisa Goller
BrainTrust

Allowing dogs in stores would add joy and comfort to these anxious times. They’re like CBD with fur. Communicating allergens and preparing hygiene protocols would reduce the risk of welcoming the whole family into stores.

DeAnn Campbell
BrainTrust

“CBD with fur.” Spot on!

Craig Sundstrom
Guest

CBD? My first thought was Central Business District…though I eventually figured it out.

Georganne Bender
BrainTrust

I love the idea but there isn’t an easy answer to this question. For people who love dogs it’s a wonderful solution, but for those who have health or fear issues it is not. It’s a fine line that moves with every shopper who enters the store.

Dave Bruno
BrainTrust

I don’t know where in the U.S. you do most of your shopping, Tom, but where I live dogs in stores are truly commonplace. I am a dog lover, and welcome them near me (and jumping on me!), but it’s a tricky issue. Many have legitimate hygiene or allergy concerns, while others simply fear dogs. So while I love dogs, I think we need to respect the needs of those affected negatively and limit dogs in stores to service dogs. I do fear, however, one unintended consequence of restricting dogs inside stores: if they can’t bring them inside, I suspect many people will leave their dogs in hot cars while they shop.

Gene Detroyer
BrainTrust

Dogs on a leash? Really? One more thing to block aisles.

DeAnn Campbell
BrainTrust

I love dogs, have dogs, and just feel happier in general when dogs are around me in public places, but I’d have to say a firm no to dogs in stores where there is food, or small boutique sized stores. The challenge isn’t the dogs it’s the owners, many of whom have failed to train their dogs to behave. Some dogs haven’t been properly socialized to other dogs or people, and kids are far too unaware of dog behavior signals to trust they won’t get bitten. Almost daily in the dog park I see owners not paying the slightest attention as their dog gets too aggressive with another dog and stores are an even more distracting environment. I think big box stores like DIY, liquor and others without food are places where it’s easier to manage your pup’s behavior and for other shoppers to avoid you if they have allergy issues, but it’s too risky elsewhere.

David Slavick
BrainTrust

Yes, at Petco and PetSmart.

Al McClain
Staff

We have two terriers ourselves and they are definitely not ready for stores, the mall, or restaurants. But, some dogs are very well behaved so it wouldn’t bother me in the least to see those kinds in stores. The problem is that people don’t obey rules in general, so I imagine there will be reports of unruly dogs, dogfights, dogs off leashes, etc. Makes it a tough call. Thankfully, all the kids I see in stores are SO well behaved 🙂

Mohamed Amer, PhD
BrainTrust

Seeing pets at a pet store is typical and even expected. However seeing a dog in the grocery aisle is not. Allowing dogs in the store is not like slapping an image of a cat on your social media post to collect more likes or shoppers. You run the risk of turning off more customers than you expect.

Brian Delp
BrainTrust
5 months 15 days ago

I have three dogs, however I don’t think pets in-store is a great idea. The chaos of having pets in-store and the hassles of clean up, maintenance, and policing of just basic rules with already under-staffed stores seems like too much to take on.

Gary Sankary
BrainTrust

Pet stores? OK, I expect to find them there. Target? Kroger’s? Men’s Wearhouse? No. Not at all. I’m a life long dog owner. My dogs are well trained and I think they’d be fine. But they’re dogs. Not everyone likes dogs. Worse not everyone really knows how to behave around other people’s dogs. When a toddler runs up to a strange dog that wasn’t expecting it — not every dog will react as their owners expect. There’s are also enough people who are afraid of strange dogs or who have allergies, etc. Dogs are great. I love having mine around the house, at the park, in the car. But I know not everyone feels that way and to impose my pets on people, where they wouldn’t expect to encounter a dog, isn’t right.

Ryan Mathews
BrainTrust

No — and no. And I say that as somebody who owns several dogs. Love them, don’t want to impose them on anyone else.

Patricia Vekich Waldron
Staff

Dogs – especially big breeds – don’t belong in places that sell food.

RandyDandy
Guest
5 months 15 days ago
Very often I feel as though we are discussing one thing when it is really about something else. This seems to be us talking about the love of dogs (and other animals) and allowing pet owners to bring their beloved ones in with them while shopping. There’s no arguing the universality of the former and some agreement that there should be exceptions made for and against the latter. However this conversation is really just about how much businesses will allow, make that in many cases tolerate, of a potential customer’s needs/wants versus how much they might lose by not allowing it. By loss is two-fold: that that possible purchaser may decide not to shop with you if you do not give them what they want (in this case, to bring in Fido); and about regulars, who might be fed-up with an operations leniency for the sake of their own shopping sanity. So, you see, this is not about appreciating dogs, it’s about the evolution (some might say devolution) of shopping: for the most, and in… Read more »
Mel Kleiman
BrainTrust

The question should be, dogs or young children. In most cases, I would vote for the dogs. I never see them having temper tantrums or running up and down the aisles.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest

I’m…well let’s just say “curious” about this claim: “Under federal guidelines, dogs and other animals are not allowed in restaurants, grocery stores and other places where food is prepared”; while I don’t doubt there are “guidelines” it’s hard to imagine they are any more than that…under which authority, exactly, would they exist?

But back to the main issue: in interpreting the generally positive feedback(s) cited, I think this may be a good example of the Silent majority…most of us see this as indulging a few self-centered and/or neurotic people.

EricaRetailNCR
Guest

Sadly, no. I worked at PetSmart and it was the right fit for our customer experience. But we spent a lot on clean up (if you know what I mean) and it was somewhat limiting in recruiting associates (positive for some, negative to others). It’s hard enough to staff in the current environment, so only for retailers that are really focusing on pet.

Matt Krepsik
Guest

Ah yes, man’s best friend. If I’m looking at our own data from a recent Quotient survey, over one-third of respondents (33%) noted that they adopted a pet during the pandemic. Reasons for adoption spanned from simply wanting one to boosting mental health. So you could make the assertion that a more pet-friendly policy today would hypothetically have more eager entrants. No bias here (though I do love my dog Hokkaido).

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"While I love dogs, I think we need to respect the needs of those affected negatively and limit dogs in stores to service dogs."

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