With approximately 1,650 pet stores in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico, PetSmart is a popular choice for buying everything from pet food to toys and, in many cases due to in-house vet clinics, vet care. But are dogs allowed in PetSmart to shop with you?
The answer is yes! According to the PetSmart website, dogs are welcome “in PetSmart stores provided the pets are appropriately secured (leashed or safely confined) and vaccinated (as appropriate for the particular type of pet).”
Which Other Pets Are Allowed in PetSmart?
Are you considering taking a pet other than a dog or cat to PetSmart? You just might be welcome as well.
According to the PetSmart site, these animals are welcome as long as, like dogs, they are leashed or safely confined and vaccinated:
- Small animals and reptiles sold at PetSmart (including, guinea pigs, hamsters, chinchillas, gerbils, mice, rats, certain geckos, bearded dragons, specific types of snakes, specific types of frogs, certain types of birds)
- Other non-venomous reptiles
- Sugar Gliders
- Pot-bellied pigs
Which Dogs Should Not Go to PetSmart?
The best dogs for shopping excursions are ones that enjoy the experience and are responsive to your commands, walking on leash, stopping and sitting quietly while you look.
However, if your dog is new to shopping, PetSmart is a good option because other shoppers are pet lovers, too!
If your dog is still working on some manners, that’s just fine. Be sure you can safely maneuver your dog in and out of the store and parking lot–but if you are concerned that your dog might let out a bark or whine, others will understand. Bring treats and positively reinforce the behaviors you want to see in your dog.
I was once in PetSmart and a dog owner with a new rescue told me she was working on her dog’s socialization and asked if I’d give her dog a treat. She had a whole pouch filled with treats to hand out to shoppers to gain her new dog some good experiences with strangers. What a great idea!
PetSmart is a great socialization experience–however, if your dog is aggressive toward other dogs, PetSmart is not the place to shop with him or her due to the high likelihood that you will run into other dogs.
6 Tips for Taking Your Dog to PetSmart
After Barli had completed his first training classes, I made it part of our regular routine to go to PetSmart after every Canine Good Citizen and Therapy Dog class. Here’s a look at the tips that made our visits more successful:
1. Eat before you hit the store!
Just like us, dogs get the munchies when surrounded by temptation in stores. If Barli was going to PetSmart directly from home, I made sure he eats before we go to the store. If he goes directly from training class, he was full from an hour of treat rewards!
2. Keep your dog on a short leash.
Stores are NOT the places for long, retractable leashes. Barli always wears a four-foot-long leash in all public places; it helps as he continues to work on his loose leash walk beside me and also prevents him from getting into anything before I can reach him.
Your dog will also be safer maneuvering the parking lot on a short leash.
3. Let your dog get accustomed to the cart.
Let’s face it: shopping carts are a little frightening. Practice walking around the store with just your dog on your first visit then work on introducing your dog to the cart gradually, treating as you slowly push the cart with your dog walking alongside.
If you have a small dog and will be putting your dog in the cart, protect his paws from the open grating by carrying a crate mat or blanket to put on the bottom of the cart.
4. Consider off times.
Barli’s classes were on Sunday afternoons so we generally visit PetSmart then. I liked that the store is busy so Barli got the additional experience of walking among strangers–but when he first started visiting PetSmart, we went on weekday mornings when the store was quieter.
PetSmart staff was less busy at this time as well, so Barli got some personalized attention at checkout, helping to reinforce his love of shopping.
5. Walk your dog outside first.
The open area outside PetSmart is a treasure trove of dog smells, a great place to spend a few extra minutes on arrival.
6. Start slowly.
Once in the store, we usually start our visit by practicing walking past the adoptable dogs in front of the store without distraction (on his part or mine!) then we head first to one of the less crowded aisles for a few “laps” to practice walking the aisles without distraction.