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Are Dogs Allowed In Target? [Store Pet Policy Guidelines]

Bringing your dog with you when you go shopping is a great way to bond with them. It gives them new surroundings and people to interact with to improve social skills. However, some stores don’t allow pets inside their stores, so what does the 8th largest retailer in America say?

So, are dogs allowed in Target? Dogs are not permitted in Target stores, this also includes puppies. The only exception to this nationwide no-pet company policy is service dogs of disabled customers, who must be legally allowed entry under law and to assist their needs.

Target is one of the biggest retailers in the USA, and they sell pet products, so why don’t they allow dogs?

Let’s find out!

Are Target Stores Dog-Friendly?

Along with other massive retailers, Target stores aren’t considered dog friendly. Excluding service dogs, pets are not allowed inside their stores. 

It can be a little confusing to understand why Target stores aren’t considered dog friendly, especially when their official mascot is a dog. 

Plus, they sell pet products, and many stores (like Petco) that sell pet goods allow pets inside their stores. 

According to the FDA, no pets are allowed in businesses that sell food or prepare food. And Target is one of those stores. 

Refusing animals into these locations is to prevent cross-contamination between pets and the surrounding food.

Not only do Target stores sell food, but they sell clothing and homeware goods.

This is another component that is factored into Target’s decision to refuse entry to dogs. 

Roughly 3 in 10 people in the US are allergic to animal fur, including dog hair. No matter how much a breed might be advertised to be ‘shed-free’, they simply don’t exist. 

All dogs shed hair, so it’s impossible to bring a dog into a Target store without leaving dog hair behind. 

These hairs will settle on fabrics, like clothing and bedding, and can cause an allergic reaction which might put that person’s health at great risk, depending on the severity of their allergy. 

Regardless of how well behaved a dog might be, there are countless different scenarios inside Target that can cause them to react poorly. 

They might be a nervous or an overly excitable dog so, when they’re approached by a strange person or dog, they might break free and destroy merchandise and harm other shoppers. 

Target needs to always keep their customers’ health and safety in mind, and preventing entry to all non-service dogs for reasons like these just makes sense.

No matter how frustrating it might be to leave your dog behind in the car or house. 

What Are Target’s Pet Policies?

Although Target sells pet goods, they have a very strict no pets policy. However, this does not include service animals. However, they need to be officially recognized as service dogs by the ADA.

The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) accepts any animal as a service animal, with the most common choice being a dog. 

Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities.

ADA Service Animal Definition

Service dogs are crucial to many disabled people being able to live a normal life.

Some of the services these dogs provide include mental support (like PTSD and Autism), medical support (Seizure Alert), and sensory deficient support (blindness and deafness).

It’s against the law to deny access to these people, so it’s necessary to allow services dogs to enter stores as well. 

Service dogs are much more well-behaved and less reactive to different situations than the average trained pet dog, so the chance of damage and harm is minimal.

Unfortunately, emotional support dogs aren’t certified as service dogs (unless registered with the ADA), so they will be denied entry if you try to bring them into Target with you.

However, depending on the store you go to, they may not be very strict on enforcing the no-pet policy.

This might be due to a lack of awareness of the policy or just the discretion of the workers there. 

But overall, it’s best to be prepared to leave your dog behind when going into any of the 1,926 US stores spread across all 50 states.   

Where Can You Leave Your Dog When Visiting Target?

There is no specifically designed place to leave your dog when shopping in Target. The only options are to secure them outside the storefront, leave them in your car, or leave them behind.

Unfortunately, because of their strict no pet policy, Target stores don’t provide a particular area or kennel to keep your dog while you’re shopping indoors. 

It’s up to you to decide where to keep your dog while you’re inside. Target advises leaving your dog at home or in the car.

However, they mention that you can secure your dog outside the front if you decide to bring them along. 

Deciding to bring your dog with you when you run errands makes sense.

Or maybe you realize you have forgotten to buy something important from Target.

Your main options when shopping in their stores is to leave your dog in the car or fasten their leash to a pole outside. 

There are both pros and cons to each choice. 

Leaving them in the car keeps them safe from being stolen or having to interact with strange or aggressive dogs, especially important if they have a nervous nature.

However, they can easily overheat in the car.

So you are going need to let the windows down a little, park in a shady area and bringing some water and toys to keep them occupied is a good idea, also.

Securing your dog outside the storefront will give them the fresh air to stay cool but opens them up to the possibility of being stolen, or interacting with others when you cannot intervene should the need arise.

Only you will know your dog and its behavior/temperament.

For some of you reading, leaving your dog outside is an automatic no; they may just not do well when left alone.

Other times, it may just work. At quieter times of the day, if your dog is well socialized, if you can leave them in shade and shelter, and you don’t do so for too long, etc.

This dilemma is the reason why Target recommends leaving your dog at home while you shop in any of their stores, regardless of location.


As the world becomes more accustomed to owners bringing their dogs with them as the shop, it’s the responsibility of the business to decide if they want to permit entry to dogs.

Unfortunately, Target isn’t one of those businesses, and they don’t provide an alternative to shopping with your dog yet. 

So, when shopping in their stores, it’s better to leave your dog in the house than bring them with you. 

Related Questions

Can I Carry My Dog In Target?

You cannot carry your dog in Target. The no pet policy refers to dogs being physically in the store, not to how they navigate it. For this reason, carriers are not permitted either.

Can Puppies Go Into Target?

Puppies cannot go into Target, regardless of how much they may suffer from separation anxiety. You will therefore need to make other arrangements.

And if you are wondering where else you can take your dog inside, check out the following guides below: