Heading to Costco for your weekly or bi-weekly shopping trip is no small feat. Between grocery shopping, stocking up on household goods, getting gas, and getting your eyes checked at Costco Optical, a trip to this big box store can easily take several hours.
So, this makes us wonder… is Costco dog friendly? Keep reading to find out!
Like any major retailer that sells groceries and other food items, Costco’s pet policy is restricted to service animals only. All other pets, including dogs, that are not specifically trained to assist with accessibility are not permitted inside of any Costco Warehouse locations.
Why Does Costco Not Allow Dogs?
Costco does not allow non-service dogs or other pets in their stores because it violates FDA regulations governing the health and safety standards that grocery suppliers are required to uphold. Dogs and other animals are considered health hazards inside of grocery stores and other food establishments.
Costco Pet Policy
For a full look at Costco’s pet policy, you can check out their official pet policy page on their website.
Here, we will give you a breakdown of the main points of the policy:
- As a general rule, dogs and other pets are not allowed in any Costco Warehouse locations.
- Service animals that are trained to perform a specific task or function for a person with a disability are allowed in Costco in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
- Costco legally reserves the right to ask shoppers whether their animal is a service animal.
- Costco is also legally allowed to ask what task or function the animal is trained to perform.
- If shoppers are unable to answer these two questions in accordance with the policy, they will be asked to leave and return without their animal.
Does This Policy Apply To All Costco Stores?
According to some shoppers, not all Costco stores abide strictly by the company’s pet policy. Although it shouldn’t be considered the norm, there have been some reports of certain Costco stores allowing dogs inside as long as they are leashed, non-aggressive, and do not make a mess inside the store.
To be safe and sure you’re abiding by the rules, it’s best to leave your pet at home when you head out for your Costco run. But if you’re willing to take the risk, there is a chance that you will be able to do your shopping with your pup in tow.
When it comes to shopping at Costco in other countries, the question gets a bit more complicated. Even though Costco is a US-based company, they have locations in 12 different countries, including Australia, Japan, South Korea, and Iceland. So, will you be able to bring your dog with you if you’re an overseas shopper?
According to most country-specific Costco websites, animals are not allowed inside of any Costco stores unless expressly required for adherence to applicable laws. In other words, you’ll probably have to review your country’s rules and regulations to find out for sure.
Types of Service Dogs Allowed At Costco
The definition of a service dog as defined by Costco’s pet policy is a dog that has been trained to perform a task or function. Costco does not require shoppers with service animals to present documentation and it also does not require dogs to wear designating service animal vests. However, if dogs inside of Costco are not wearing a designated vest, there is a chance that a Costco employee will ask whether the dog is a service animal.
According to Costco’s policy, emotional support animals and dogs that have not been trained to perform a specific task or function are not considered service animals and are therefore not allowed inside of Costco stores.
Service Dog Handler Responsibilities
As a service dog handler bringing your service animal into a store like Costco, you are responsible for answering the questions you might be asked by a Costco employee.
The 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. Costco employees are not legally allowed to ask you to show documentation of your dog’s service animal status.
Can Costco Ask If Your Dog Is A Service Dog?
Costco is legally allowed to ask its customers whether or not dogs present in the store are service animals. They are also allowed to ask what task or function the dog is trained to perform. However, Costco employees are not legally allowed to ask shoppers for documentation to prove the service animal status of their dog.
Difference Between Service and Emotional Support Dogs
While service animals and emotional support animals are certainly related, they are not the same thing.
- Service animals are animals trained to perform a specific task or function to assist a person with a physical disability.
- Emotional support animals are animals that provide psychological support and emotional relief to their companions.
Both animals are considered legitimate forms of assistance under the Americans with Disabilities Act, but emotional support animals are not afforded protections when it comes to allowing them inside of grocery stores.
Does Costco Allow Emotional Support Dogs?
Because the ADA does not require it (and because the FDA limits the allowance on animals in grocery stores), Costco does not allow emotional support dogs in their stores.
Are Therapy Dogs Considered Service Animals?
Therapy dogs are often found in specific establishments such as hospitals, hospice centers, and schools to provide emotional and therapeutic support to individuals. However, therapy dogs are not considered service animals.
How To Recognize Fake Service Dogs
Unfortunately, there are some people who will try to get away with faking their dog’s service animal status. Many people get away with this because it can be fairly difficult to spot the difference, especially if the dog is well behaved.
Some key indicators of a fake service dog include:
- The dog barks or whines
- The dog seeks attention from people other than its owner
- The owner allows other people to pet the dog
- The dog is not wearing a service animal vest
- The dog is messy or easily distracted
These factors are not guaranteed signs of a fake service animal, so make sure never to assume that someone is faking their animal’s status if you don’t know.
Some key indicators of a real service dog include:
- The dog is wearing a service animal vest
- The dog is extremely well behaved
- The dog does not bark or whine
- The dog is extremely attendant to its owner
- The dog does not get distracted easily or pay attention to other things or people
The consequences of faking a service animal vary by case and location. In some places, individuals can be fined up to $500 for pretending that their animal is a service animal. Repeat offenders also face the risk of having the fake service animal seized by the state.
Are small dogs allowed in Costco?
The only dogs allowed in Costco 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 Costco.
Can I take my dog into shops in a bag?
While some shops allow dogs, grocery suppliers like Costco do not allow pets inside their stores even if they are small or inside of a bag.
Are all service animals allowed In Costco?
Yes. All service animals that have been trained to perform a specific task or function are allowed in Costco. Emotional support animals and therapy dogs are not considered service animals and are therefore not allowed in Costco.
Can you put your dog in your shopping cart at Costco?
No. Service animals are expected to walk alongside their owners to be ready to perform their appointed function or task.
Are dogs allowed in other grocery stores?
While certain grocery stores might make exceptions illegally, the FDA restricts any grocery store in the US from allowing dogs unless those dogs are service animals. This is a regulation intended to protect important health and safety standards for consumers.
Unfortunately, shopping at Costco with your furry friend isn’t going to be so easy, or even possible, if your dog is not a service animal. But at the end of the day, it makes sense that grocery suppliers don’t allow dogs in their stores. I’m sure I’m not the only one who appreciates not having to buy produce covered in dog hair or deal with messes in the grocery aisles. So, next time you head out for your grocery trip to Costco, either leave your dog at home or be prepared to answer questions about its service animal status.