Finding Pet-Friendly Shops
While visiting a mall in Tel Aviv, it struck me that dogs were allowed to come into the mall with you—and my shopping experience, like everything in life, was immediately improved by the presences of dogs. I daresay that if we considered implementing more pet-friendly policies, we'd likely see an improvement in shoppers' dispositions. Although pet-friendly stores are somewhat scarce in the United States, a diligent pet parent can easily find out where to go.
Here are 5 facts that pet parents should know about pet-friendly shops:
#1: More Shops Are Becoming Pet Friendly
Aside from certified service animals and pet supply stores, not many US retailers permit pets. The good news is that there's hope for dog-loving shoppers and shop-loving dogs. Many banks, car dealerships, and salons have already opened their doors to pets accompanied by human customers, and the prognosis of more businesses following suit is optimistic.
#2: There Are Perks to Pet-Friendly Shops
First of all, it's great for socialization, especially for young dogs who need to be exposed to a variety of environments to become socially competent and relaxed in different situations. Excitable young puppies who are prone to impromptu elimination are best carried by their humans. It's not unusual these days to see small dogs in strollers at shopping centers, although in many cases it's unclear if this is for containment or for passing them off as human babies (no judgment). Either way, at least they can't piddle on the floor.
Another important benefit of pet-friendly stores is the probable decrease in the number of dogs who are left in parked cars. As we know, car interiors heat up very quickly, even on mild days with the windows open, so it's never acceptable to leave your best friend inside your car. Pet-friendly stores eliminate the need to do so.
#3: Some Shops Have Reason to Be Concerned
It's not too difficult to understand why pets have long been banned from retail stores. For one, the potential for merchandise damage is always a concern (did someone say "bull in a china shop"?). Even the most impeccably mannered dogs can knock items right off the shelves with a good tail swing.
Dogs are also curious sniffers and lickers, and slobber certainly won't enhance any displays, and an excited or nervous dog may have an accident. And let's not forget that some of our fellow shoppers may not be animal lovers or might be downright fearful of dogs. Allergies to fur and dander can also be a serious concern for other customers.
#4: It's Easy to Find Pet-Friendly Shops
There are no laws that prohibit pets from entering retail stores, so being pet-friendly is ultimately up to individual businesses. Some will have signage indicating if pets are welcome, but many won't, so it's always a good idea to call before showing up with your dog. A quick Google search will turn up many lists and directories of retail chains that allegedly allow pets, but stores may change their pet policies.
Check out websites like BringFido.com and PetFriendlyTravel.com for lists of pet-friendly shopping malls, hotels, and restaurants around the world. (Be sure to confirm with each store before you head out.)
#5: Following Good Pet Etiquette Helps
Above all, make sure your shopping companion is trained to be on his best behavior! The best way to make the retail world more pet-friendly is to make sure we're setting a good example, one store at a time!
Cynthia P. Gallagher is a member of the Dog Writers Association of America and is the author of seven dog breed books, including the Animal Planet Dogs 101 series.