Do you love taking your dog everywhere with you? If so, we get it! But bringing your dog along on all your weekly errands can be a risky process since many stores don’t allow dogs. Keep reading to find out whether Target allows dogs in their stores.
Does Target Allow Dogs?
Unfortunately, while Target has so many benefits to offer its shoppers, a welcoming pet policy isn’t one of them. Target only allows pets in their stores if they are certified, ADA-approved service animals. Therapy and emotional support animals do not qualify under Target’s policy and are not allowed in their stores.
Due to FDA regulations, Target does not allow dogs at its stores unless those dogs are registered and ADA-approved service animals. For an overview of the ADA service animal requirements, click here. You can also learn all about the process of registering your dog as a service animal by clicking here.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has a strict set of regulations governing the presence of live animals of any kind on the premises of a grocery store. Because Target sells food, they are beholden to these regulations and are therefore unable to permit dogs or pets of any kind into their stores.
This policy applies to all physical Target locations. But don’t worry! You can still shop at Target from the comfort of your own home while cuddling with your pets.
Target’s Pet Policy
Target does not publicize their in-store pet policy. So, we’ve gathered some information based on federal regulations that apply to stores like Target.
Because Target sells and sometimes even serves food in their stores, their pet policy disallows all dogs and other pets that are not registered service animals.
Keep reading to find out what a service dog is and what functions they can serve for their handlers.
What Is A Service Dog?
A service dog is a dog trained to perform a specific task or function for a human who requires assistance. For example, some service dogs assist vision-impaired handlers in navigating spaces while other service dogs notify diabetic handlers when their insulin levels are low.
But the term “service dog” can refer to different things in different contexts. Some people have unofficial service dogs, emotional support animals, therapy dogs, and more. These categories are often referred to broadly as “service animals.”
However, when it comes to shopping at Target, the only kind of service dog that is accepted is an ADA-approved and registered service animal.
Categories Of Service Dogs
If you have a registered service dog, your dog might be trained for any number of the following tasks:
- Allergy detection
- Autism support
- Diabetic insulin monitoring
- Guiding for the visually impaired
- Hearing for the hearing impaired
- Mobility assistance
- Seizure alert
- Psychiatric services
By Target’s definition, emotional support animals, therapy dogs, and unofficial service dogs are not considered official service dogs and are therefore not allowed in Target’s physical locations.
Service Dog Handler Responsibilities
As a service dog handler, you have a few responsibilities. First, you are responsible for ensuring that your service animal is properly trained and suited to its task. You are also responsible for making sure that your service dog is registered and properly identifiable as a service animal.
If you are confronted about your service dog while shopping at Target, then you are also responsible for answering the questions you might be asked by a Target employee, up to a certain point.
The permitted questions you might be asked are:
- Is your dog a service animal?
- If so, what task or function is your dog trained to perform?
If you are asked any other questions about your service animal, you are not obligated to answer. Target employees are not legally allowed to ask you to show documentation of your dog’s service animal status.
Can Target Ask If Your Dog Is A Service Dog?
Because Target has a strict no-pets policy for dogs who are not service dogs, Target employees are allowed to ask shoppers whether or not their dogs are service animals. They are also allowed to ask what function or task the dog is trained to perform.
However, according to ADA policy, it is illegal for any establishment to discriminate against a disabled person for needing assistance. Because of this, it is illegal for Target employees to request documentation from their shoppers to prove the service status of their animals.
Basically, if you tell a Target employee that your dog is a service animal, then chances are you’ll be left alone.
Some stores will try to enforce the policy by asking shoppers to leave if their dogs are not wearing indicative markers such as a service dog vest. However, many Target locations do not enforce their pet policy at all.
If you have a registered service animal, you will be provided with a service dog vest similar to the one shown on the ADA website below.
Does Target allow dogs in strollers/carriers?
No. According to Target’s formal policy, pets are not allowed inside of their stores no matter what, unless those animals are ADA-approved and registered service animals. Service animals should be able to walk on their own without the assistance of a stroller or carrier.
Does Target allow ESA dogs?
No. Because the ADA does not require it, Target does not allow emotional support dogs in their stores.
Are small dogs allowed at Target?
Only if they are service dogs, but small dogs generally do not serve as registered service animals. The only dogs allowed in Target are service animals. If your small dog has been trained to perform a specific function or task as a service animal, then this dog is allowed in Target.
Are dogs allowed at all Target stores?
Registered service animals are allowed at all Target stores according to ADA requirements. Although some Target stores might not enforce this policy, non-service dogs are technically not allowed at any Target location.
In short, shopping at Target with your furry friends isn’t the simplest thing in the world. While shoppers with registered service animals are more than welcome to shop as they please with their service animals in tow, other shoppers are technically not supposed to bring their dogs inside. That said, Target will likely not chase you down to check for your paperwork, and if they do, you can remind the employee that it’s a violation of the ADA law. Just remember that if you do decide to take the risk and bring your non-service dog into Target, you will be violating important FDA regulations that are intended to keep food safe and sanitary for all consumers.