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Are Dogs Allowed in Malls? (2023 Update)

Melissa Gunter

By Melissa Gunter

woman shopping with her dog at the mall

Taking off to the mall for a bit of shopping and fun is a great way to spend a day. For years, people have gotten together with friends and family to browse the latest fashion trends, enjoy tasty food, and spend time with one another. While a day at the mall is great fun, when you leave your furry family member at home waiting for you, a lot of the enjoyment is lost.

Knowing that your dog is waiting on you to return is not only difficult for the owner, but being on their own for several hours isn’t great for many dogs. Now comes the big question. Are dogs allowed in malls? As with many questions that come into play when pets are concerned, the answer to whether you can take your dog to the mall with you isn’t cut and dry. While yes, dogs are allowed in many malls and public areas, not every mall is pet-friendly.

Let’s take a more extensive look at malls and their dog-friendly policies so you can decide whether a day of shopping can be made better by having your pooch at your side.

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Types of Malls

There are tons of malls across the world. Just like with so many other shopping centers, not all malls are the same. If you’re a fan of shopping, you’ve most likely noticed that malls are either enclosed or open-air. For pet owners, open-air malls are often a great option. These malls allow you to browse the rows of stores, meet and greet people, and get fresh air while you visit. You’ll also find that open-air malls have common areas where shoppers congregate. In most situations, dogs are allowed in these areas as long as they are on a leash. However, the stores in open-air malls could be a different story. Each department store will have its own policy when it comes to pets, so make sure you ask before you go inside with your pet in tow.

When you mention a mall, enclosed malls are the typical image. Often these malls are several levels and contain dozens of stores, eateries, and common areas. These types of malls are the ones least likely to allow dogs inside. That doesn’t mean they are all the same though. You may find enclosed malls that are okay with dogs coming into the common mall areas but not the stores. Then again, some are completely pet-friendly and allow your pups to go everywhere on the grounds. The most important thing to remember is to find out the pet policy of the mall you plan to visit before you go.

two leashed dogs at a shopping mall
Image Credit: heychli, Shutterstock

Tips for Taking Your Dog to the Mall

Before you take your pooch on a trip to the mall, there are a few things you should consider. Let’s take a look at those so you can better prepare for your visit and ensure your dog has a great time.

Know the Mall’s Rules Before You Visit

The most important thing before taking your dog to the mall is to find out the mall’s rules beforehand. If you can’t find anything online, giving them a call is a great option. You can ask questions about whether dogs are allowed in stores or must stick to common areas. Unfortunately, the mall may not even allow the dog into the building.

Your Dog Should Be Comfortable

Not every dog is up for spending lots of time in public spaces. If your dog isn’t socialized, it could get anxious or nervous at the mall. This can cause your dog to potentially act out, have accidents, or even get sick. If your dog has never been out in public before you should start slowly. Take them by the dog park or a smaller public space. You will learn a lot by watching their interactions. Then you can make a more informed decision on whether you feel your dog would be comfortable at the mall.


It isn’t wise to take a dog into a pet-friendly mall if they aren’t properly trained. Your dog should be able to follow basic commands without issues and be potty-trained. The last thing you want is for your dog to make a bad impression by jumping on people and other dogs, peeing on the merchandise, or leaving a nice poo under a clothes rack.

Use a Leash

Yes, some dogs do great at being off-leash. However, when going to a mall it is a different scenario. There are lots of people, and if the mall is pet-friendly, other animals are inside. This can get your dog excited. Even the most well-trained dog can have slip-ups. To avoid this, keep your dog on a leash the entire time you’re inside the mall. This will allow you to control them inside stores and out.

American Pit bull Terrier dog inside a shopping cart trolley
Image Credit: ravipat, Shutterstock

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Service Dogs in Malls

If you have a service dog, yes, you can take them to the mall with you. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires that service animals be allowed in any public area people are allowed to visit. The only time you may find an issue arise is if your dog gets out of control and you can’t calm them down. You may also find that certain stores where your dog could accidentally do damage, may ask you and your pooch not to come in. Other than these types of situations, no one at the mall should ask you about a disability or why you need the service animal. They can, however, ask if the dog is needed to help with a disability and what job the service animal performs.

Unfortunately, the ADA does not include emotional support animals. If you’re visiting a mall with a no-pet policy, you can’t force them to allow your emotional support dog inside. However, there are a few states out there that have special stipulations concerning emotional support animals and where they are allowed to go. Learning your state’s regulations on emotional support animals can make things easier for you in the long run.

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Final Thoughts

If you want to take your dog out for a day of shopping, you may have the opportunity. While not every mall in the United States allows dogs inside, others will. When you find a mall you and your dog can visit together, make sure to use proper etiquette where your dog is concerned. You’ll find in most situations that a well-behaved dog is a welcomed dog.

Featured Image Credit: manpeppe, Shutterstock

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