Believe it or not, there are no definitive laws in the UK stating that dogs are not allowed inside shops. In fact, our four-legged friends being excluded from the retail experience is purely customary: except for in some exceptional circumstances (for example, for reasons of health and safety), it is entirely up to a store manager’s discretion whether or not dogs are allowed inside stores.
The trouble with customary rules, of course, is that as the years and generations pass they can become more and more ingrained. Fortunately for dog owners (and dog lovers), an increasing number and variety of high street shops have nowadays started to break down these barriers and permit well-behaved pooches to see what we’ve been getting up to all this time.
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Which Shops Are Dog Friendly in the UK?
Many independent stores in the UK will already allow dogs to enter their premises, but what about high street chains? Well, the answer is that a surprising number already do. Do bear in mind, however, that our list is only a guide: some of these stores will not allow dogs due, for example, to an individual manager’s decision, or because they are located inside shopping centres with a no dogs policy.
Clothing/Jewellery/Health & Beauty
TK Maxx (small dogs being carried preferred, at the manager’s discretion)
Zara (at the manager’s discretion)
A nice boutique store is an ideal place for a dog to visit, unless your four-legged friend is the sort who likes to bark at themselves in the mirror. For the shop staff, being able to spend time talking to someone who is always cheerful and has no real interest in or need for any of the products they sell will probably also prove to be a welcome change.
Home & Garden/Arts & Crafts
Homesense (small dogs being carried preferred, at the manager’s discretion)
Dogs have been a fixture in garden centres for years, so it is nice that shops for the home also cater to our furry friends. Dogs are bound to have a great time looking around any of these stores, although they will have to get used to the fact they might not be the most interesting thing to look at when they are in Flying Tiger.
Curry’s (at the manager’s discretion)
Buying big ticket consumer durables is as excited as many people ever get, so your dog may seem like the calmer one in the partnership whenever you take them for a visit to the Apple Store or Curry’s. Meanwhile Waterstones, who like to provide comfortable areas for customers to take their time to browse their stores, should perhaps look into having a selection of dog beds to hand.
Can I take my dog into B&M?
Things here are a little bit unclear. While the general store policy seems to allow dogs to enter B&M stores provided they are kept on a lead and do not enter any areas that are responsible for food production or retail, there are horror stories about people being asked to leave or even barred from B&M stores for doing so.
If you are able to ask the manager of the store in question then you will be able to find out for sure but failing that, it may be easier and safer to leave your pooch at home. It’s an unfortunate clash with B&M’s pro-pet advertising and large ranges of toys and food.
Can I take my dog into Home Bargains?
The policy here is, at least, much more clear. The only dogs permitted inside Home Bargains stores are assistance dogs, unfortunately. At least your pooch will be able to point out the things they want from the store on their website.
Can I take my dog into Marks and Spencer?
Sadly, dogs are not allowed in any Marks and Spencers stores, even the ones that deal only with clothing and homewares and have no food hall or cafe. However, this does not apply to assistance dogs, who are legally entitled to go anywhere their person can.
Does IKEA allow dogs?
IKEA’s dog policy makes you harken after the good old days, when Marks and Spencer told you “no” and that was that. It is a morass of contradictory information which, unsurprisingly, results in inconsistent application of the rules (such as they are).
Basically, it boils down to where you live and then individual store managers’ policies. In some countries, IKEA welcomes pets with open arms, excluding them only from the restaurant and food production areas. In others, they are almost completely blacklisted (with the obvious exception of assistance dogs).
In the UK, the generally accepted rule of thumb is that dogs are NOT permitted in IKEA stores. However, the chain has begun to introduce Dog Bays at some British stores. These are essentially outdoor tethering points with artificial grass and water bowls, so that customers will not have to leave their dogs waiting in their cars. Given that responsible dog owners would never dream of doing this anyway, it’s a pretty unconvincing compromise.
Quite what your furry friend will make of being driven all the way to IKEA only to have to stand outside for hours on a rectangle of astroturf, you will have to judge for yourself.
Are dogs allowed into supermarkets in the UK?
A nice, simple answer: no. All of the major supermarkets in the UK operate a ‘no dogs except assistance dogs’ policy.
However, there are an increasing number of independently-owned supermarkets popping up around the country, often with pronounced ethical, environmental or community-minded mission statements, and many of these do. Perhaps unsurprisingly, dogs seem to love going in these. They’re probably excited to find out where we’ve been getting all those bags of food from for all those years.