Is Target Pet Friendly? (2024 Update)

In short—no, Target is not pet-friendly. Their stores have a strict no-dog policy that applies to all locations. Health officials consider it a health risk to allow animals in food establishments and grocery stores. 

is target pet friendly
Is Target pet friendly?

Other stores that don’t welcome dogs are Starbucks, Tiffany & Co, and Barnes & Noble. Stores that allow dogs include Petco, Home Depot, Lowes, and the Apple Store. So it might come as a little bit of a shock to hear that Target doesn’t allow your furry friend to accompany you into its store.

The ADA makes exceptions for approved dogs. There are several types of service dogs for individuals with disabilities. Trained service dogs are prohibited in most places to assist their owners. 

Some may confuse service dogs with therapy or emotional support dogs. The primary difference between a service dog and an emotional support dog is that emotional support dogs do not receive training. Service dogs receive specialized training to serve disabled individuals. 

Read on to learn about the rules, regulations, and exceptions to allowing pets in stores

Does Target Allow Dogs?

is target dog friendly
Is Target dog friendly?

On a corporate level, Target has a strict no-dog policy to ensure guest safety. However, the corporation makes exceptions for certified service dogs. 

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects individuals with disabilities from discrimination. ADA-approved service dogs are allowed to enter Target with their owners. Service dogs receive individual training to assist a person with a disability. Common breeds for service dogs are German shepherds and golden retrievers. 

Types of Service Dogs

  • Guide Dogs service the blind and visually impaired.
  • Mobility dogs assist individuals with wheelchairs. 
  • Medical alert dogs can detect a medical event like low blood sugar or a seizure and help their owner get to safety. 
  • Hearing dogs assist individuals that are deaf or hard of hearing. 
  • Allergy detection dogs can detect allergens to alert their owner to avoid serious reactions. 
  • Autism service dogs assist individuals with autism. 
  • Psychiatric service dogs are not the same as emotional support dogs. They receive training to assist individuals with conditions like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). 

The ADA does not require service dogs to wear any type of identification, although many wear vests. 

Emotional Support Animals 

Therapy or emotional support animals (ESAs) are animals that provide comfort for an individual. They can help with depression, anxiety phobias, and other mental health issues. However, they do not have special training to assist individuals with disabilities. Many animals can be emotional support animals, not just dogs. 

Target does not allow therapy or emotional support animals. This is because emotional support and therapy dogs are not considered service animals under ADA’s Title II and Title III. Title II applies to state and local government entities to protect individuals with disabilities from discrimination. 

Title III applies to the private sector—this includes businesses open to the public and nonprofits. Places included in Title III are restaurants, schools, recreation facilities, and movie theatres. 

black and brown dachshund
A black and brown Dachshund

Why Are Pets Not Allowed in Target?

Animals pose a risk of contaminating their open and unpackaged foods. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has strict guidelines regarding live animals around food-preparation areas. Non-service animals are considered unsanitary and are not permitted in grocery stores or restaurants. The FDA’s guidelines protect the food supply from contamination such as drool, hair, and feces.

The FDA makes an exception for service dogs and requires grocery stores to allow disabled patrons and employees to bring their service dogs. However, the store is allowed to restrict the dog’s access to certain areas of the store to avoid health hazards. 

Although there have been reports that some Target branches have been lenient with their policies, it is important to know and follow the mandated guidelines. They are for the safety of yourself and your companions.

Frequently Asked Questions 

brown and blue eyed dog
A pointy eared dog with one blue eye and one brown eye

Am I Allowed to Bring My Dog to Target With Me if I Carry Them? 

No, you are not allowed to bring your pet to Target under any circumstances, unless it is an ADA-approved service dog. As much as it might pain you to have to separate from your pup, you’ll need to leave them home or have a trusted friend or family member watch over them outside

How Can I Make My Dog a Service Dog?

Unless you have a disability that you require assistance for, you do not need a service dog. 

Getting your dog a vest to pose as a service dog does more harm than you may think. A fake service dog can distract a real service job from their tasks. They can also tarnish the reputation of real service dogs and make shopping more difficult for individuals with disabilities. 

What Breeds Make the Best Service Dogs?

Service dogs should be calm, intelligent, friendly, and have a desire to work. The most common breeds are labradors, golden retrievers, and German shepherds. Poodles also make for good service dogs because they are easy to train. 

a vet holds a dog
A dog being held by a Veterinarian.

What is the Difference Between Psychiatric Service Dogs and Emotional Support Dogs?

Psychiatric support dogs go through extensive training. While emotional support dogs can provide great comfort and companionship, they are not trained to assist individuals with disabilities.

What Do Emotional Support and Therapy Dogs Do?

Emotional support dogs can provide companionship and emotional support for individuals struggling with mental health issues like anxiety and depression. Unlike service dogs, they do not receive training for their services. 

Does Target’s No-dog Policy Apply to All of Their Locations?

Target’s no-dog policy is set by corporate and applies to all locations. Although some locations may be more lenient than others, they are still obligated to follow their corporate regulations. 

Are Other Animals Allowed in Target?

No animals are prohibited in Target, with the exception of ADA-approved service dogs. Service dogs may be limited to certain areas of the store to ensure guest safety. 

How Can I Identify a Service Dog?

Service dogs are not required to wear any identification. However, many owners tend to dress their service dog with a labeled vest.