Costco is a place many pet parents like to bulk shop. The deals and prices in this membership-only warehouse club can really save a bunch of your grocery budget! But what if you’d like to take your dog shopping at Costco? Is that even possible?
We’ve put together some current (2022) information about whether dogs are allowed in Costco or not. Let’s get started!
Does Costco Allow Dogs in Their Warehouse?
The answer is it depends. That’s confusing! But we’ll explain what this means.
On Costco’s official website, they state, “In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Costco has adopted a service animal policy. Be assured that Costco members accompanied by service animals have immediate access to our warehouse.”
So, Costco does allow service animals into their warehouse. However, when you enter with an animal, Costco employees are trained to ask you two questions:
- Is that a service animal?
- What task or function is it trained to perform?
The store can legally ask these questions and stay in compliance with the ADA. Employees are not allowed to harass, embarrass, or determine medical eligibility. They can only ask these two questions about your dog. These questions are meant to protect other shoppers and store personnel.
Officially, only service animals are allowed in, and the animal must have been trained to perform some task or function. In addition, no health or safety laws can be broken when taking a service animal into the Costco.
However, we found information that says some of the stores are more lax than others. That means some Costco warehouse stores may let dogs into their stores. It seems the stores can make a determination on whether or not a dog is allowed in if it’s not a service dog.
So, it is possible your local Costco will allow you to shop with your dog, even if he’s not a service dog. However, in most cases, the dog must be leashed, non-aggressive, and not be allowed to potty on the floor (that’s a health hazard in a public place like a store). All of this depends on the store manager, however. Each store manager can make their own determination unless the dog is a service animal.
What About Therapy Dogs?
The ADA, Article II, and Title III says that therapy dogs are not considered service animals. So, this covers therapy and emotional support dogs. They are not allowed to enter.
However, this law may change at some point in the future. For this reason, it’s important to stay up to date with all requirements about service dogs. You can do this through the ADA website.
How Should You Handle a Service Dog in Costco?
Even though your service dog is allowed into Costco, this doesn’t mean you don’t have certain responsibilities. Costco does have the right to refuse entry to service dogs if their handlers (pet parents) are not able to control their dogs.
Service dogs are usually highly trained and wear specialized harnesses and leashes. However, the handler isn’t able to tether their dog due to a disability or other issue, then they must be able to control their dog through voice command.
In the event the handler can’t manage their dog, it can lead to serious problems in the store. For instance, it’s possible a trained service dog could become aggressive toward other shoppers or store personnel. In that case, the store is held responsible if the dog harms anyone. If the dog is aggressive and the handler can’t control the dog, then both are ejected and reported on the spot.
In addition, handlers should ensure their dogs are up to date on their vaccinations before entering Costco or other public areas.
Is Costco Dog-Friendly?
Some Costcos are dog-friendly, while others take the official stand on dogs. Each store’s manager can determine whether they allow other than service dogs in the warehouse.
Some strictly enforce the store’s official rules, while others choose to allow all dogs inside their stores.
It just depends on each store’s manager.
Can You Put a Dog in a Shopping Cart at Costco?
Some customers have said they have seen animals and dogs in shopping carts at Costco. However, that’s against the FDA guidelines. This is because dogs in a shopping cart, which can also carry food, are a health hazard.
Shopping carts are mostly used to carry food and products. A dog in the cart is not sanitary, which is why having your dog in the shopping cart is not allowed. If a Costco employee sees your dog in a shopping cart, they will probably ask you and your dog to leave.
What If I Dress My Dog Up as a Service Dog?
Some people try and get away with this; however, many stores are starting to crack down on face service animals. There are ways that employees and customers can tell a dog is a fake service dog:
- The dog steals food from a shelf
- The dog is aggressive
- The dog sniffs people (service dogs are trained not to do this)
- The dog whines or barks at people (or other animals)
- The dog pulls on the leash
- The dog poops or urinates on the floor or on products (how disgusting!)
- The dog looks for attention from other customers
True service dogs are trained not to do these things!
If you try to pass your dog off as a service dog, there’s a stiff penalty if you’re caught. It’s a crime in the US to pass off a pet as a service animal. And penalties vary from state to state. Almost 20 states have laws against owners that have face service animals.
Summing It Up
Costco’s policy on allowing dogs or not in their warehouses seems a bit confusing. If you’re in doubt about whether you can take your dog or not, then we recommend calling the specific store where you’d like to shop.
Ask to speak with the manager, then ask about their dog policy. If they say it’s OK, then you and your fur baby can enjoy a trip to Costco!