Can I Take My Dog to the Mall? What You Need to Know

Pet Care


May 29, 2023

It seems that these days, pet parents want to take their dogs everywhere they go, including the mall. But before you just head out to your favorite location and bring Fido with you, you’ll need to check things out first.

Not every public place allows dogs as visitors, but fortunately, there are now online resources that you can utilize to find out which public places near you are as pet-friendly as you want them to be.

Below are a few suggestions you can keep in mind the next time you head out somewhere and wish to take along your dog.

Can I Take My Dog to the Mall?

So, you’re interested in doing a little shopping at the mall and you’re wondering, are malls pet-friendly? In reality, there is no hard-and-fast answer to this question because each mall in each city and state can have completely different rules than the previous one.

Whether you’re in your hometown or visiting someone, it’s good to know beforehand what the rules are regarding taking dogs to malls, and here are some basic ones:

1.  Check with That Particular Mall

Not only is each mall different, but each store is as well. Before you take off for the mall, give the office a call and ask about their pet policy. This way, you’ll know before you even get there if it’s acceptable to bring your dog with you.

In addition, keep in mind that stores are usually privately owned, so you should get the store’s permission before you enter.

In other words, even if the mall says “yes” to bringing your dog along, the stores may have a different policy. Ask each store manager if it’s all right to enter the store with your dog, and if they say “no,” just move onto the next store.

2.  Make Sure That Your Dog Is Socialized

Some dogs are socialized and others are not. If your dog isn’t socialized and doesn’t get along with other dogs, don’t bring them to the mall.

Dogs that aren’t used to other dogs, people, and especially children should never be brought into public places, especially those as hectic and fast-paced as a mall. If you do bring them, there are too many potential problems that could arise and some of them are serious.

To save yourself a lot of headaches and a potential lawsuit, just leave your dog at home when you decide to shop at the mall.

3.  Always Clean up After Your Dog

This should go without saying, but when you’re in any public place — especially indoors — you must clean up after your dog.

For the most part, this is the law, but even if you’re unsure what the law is in your area, you need to act under the assumption that cleaning up after your dog is a must. No one else should have to do this for you.

If you do not clean up after your dog, management will likely ask you to leave and may not allow the dog back again in the future. To solve this problem, take the time to clean up after your dog every time that it is necessary.

4.  Keep the Dog on a Leash

Naturally, when you’re in a public place and you’re indoors, you cannot allow your dog to do whatever and go wherever they please.

It doesn’t matter how well-behaved they are; most public places will require that the dog be either on a leash or in some type of carrier. You cannot under any circumstances allow your dog to roam around as they please in the mall.

This rule is for practical purposes. Many people feel uncomfortable or threatened when they’re around dogs, and besides, it is simply easier to keep track of the dog when they’re on a leash or in a carrier.

Is Publix Pet-Friendly?

As of this writing, all Publix stores forbid dogs from entering, so they are not pet-friendly. This is usually the law because anytime there is food sold in a store, dogs are usually not allowed.

The Publix pet policy does have one exception, however: a service dog may enter their stores if the owner is disabled and needs the dog to function.

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), all service dogs are allowed to go into public places even if they have a no-pet policy. This is a federal law and therefore supersedes any state or local law that may be in effect. Service dogs are usually there to help people with vision problems such as blindness and a few other conditions as well.

Keep in mind that Publix does not allow emotional support animals, or ESAs, but that is subject to change in the future because ESAs are a new phenomenon. If you wish to bring your dog into any Publix store, you can safely assume that they are not allowed there, mostly for sanitation reasons.

Other Things to Keep in Mind

Even if you do bring a dog into a public place, that facility is going to assume that you will be a responsible dog owner and keep the dog from making a mess, bothering other customers, or scaring small children.

Your dog has to be well behaved and always on a leash, and if they do make a mess, you’ll be responsible for cleaning it up immediately.

You should also know that there are some national chains that are now allowing dogs as long as the owners are responsible with them. These stores include:

  • Many pet stores, including Petco and PetSmart
  • Nordstrom
  • Home Depot
  • The Gap
  • Anthropologie

You have to remember that the rules may be different within each store, especially since they’re franchises and owned by different people. Because of this, if you want to take your pet into one of these stores, you should always call first to make sure they allow this. Make sure that you’re a responsible pet owner and be courteous around other shoppers.

You’ll also notice that it is mostly stores that do not handle or sell food that allow dogs in their facilities. Restaurants, diners, and grocery stores don’t allow them for sanitation reasons.


Malls all around the country differ when it comes to bringing your dog with you to shop, so you’ll want to call their management team first to make sure that they allow it.

You should also keep them on a leash or in a carrier, clean up any mess they might make, and only take your dog if it is socialized and used to being around people and other dogs.

As a general rule, Publix does not allow dogs in their stores, except for service animals. This is because there are food items being sold and therefore federal law prohibits it.