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Q&A: Can my therapy dog go in to public stores with me? I would use this to help her train. I was thinking of…?

Question by Military Chick: Can my therapy dog go in to public stores with me? I would use this to help her train. I was thinking of…?

getting her a vest that says “Therapy Dog In Training”. Thanks!
She would NOT be a Service dog, just a Therapy Dog. i was told there was a difference.

Best answer:

Answer by Me and my beagle
Yes she should be able to… I have starred this question as one of my contacts has therapy dogs (Jazzie) and would be able to give you a better answer than what I can!

What do you think? Answer below!

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  • acutely u cant take dog in malls and if u can u have to have a leash around hes/shes mouth

  • If she has her CGC, then you could. But not in any stores that sell food.

  • Like if you are blind or something, a dog like that IS able to go anywere.

  • You technically can’t however some small (family owned) businesses might allow you in if you explain the situation. As long as there is no health code violation…stores like card shops, video stores, dry cleaners etc should be okay…but the business gets to make that decision.
    Edit: the CGC really only helps with your homeowners insurance and will aid you in getting therapy dog status…nothing more

  • A therapy dog doesn’t automatically have full public access. However, you can ask each shop manager, and many will allow it, as long as food is not served.

    I think I would telephone ahead, and plan the route accordingly.

  • if the dog is a regular therapy dog, such as going to nursing homes and children’s hospitals legally no.

    honestly if you have a professional looking vest that says therapy dog in training many of the store’s personally aren’t going to know the difference and will allow it without much question.

    but if you are questioned then you probably will have to leave.

    legally only service dogs and service dog’s in training are allowing in most public stores.

    my personal opinion. if all of these dog accessory wearing folk can take their nippy little land sharks into a child’s clothing store and everywhere else, as long as they are holding them and without question by anyone, then yes you should be allowed.

    i’ve often thought about carrying my 50lb shepherd/heeler mix into a store and standing next to that type of person. because what’s the difference. so my dog necklace is bigger than theirs? more than likely my dog is better behaved anyway.

    sorry off my soapbox now.

    now old navy did once let me bring my dog into their store to try on a dog halloween costume for my dog. they weren’t supposed to though. but she is so well behaved that the rules were bent that one time.

    again if you shell out the money for the professional vest, which anyone with internet access can get, then they honestly probably won’t question you, depending on the type of establishment it is. stores that sell food and are geared towards children would be more likely to question you.

  • You’d have to check your local laws.

    Eenie Meenie, I am in the western US, and a CGC means you can take your dogs out in public, with a few exceptions like places that serve food.

  • Legally a service dog is allowed anywhere with their handicapped owners, and in malls without muzzles, but does have to be on a leash……they are a necessity to this person and is allowed everywhere…..stores, malls, restaurants, buses, anywhere that the owner can go, so can the service dog.

    legally a therapy dog cannot, is not allowed in stores, restaurants, and most bus lines will not allow either, they are not a necessity to an owner, they are however a necessity to the people they help and show the love and affection…thus, no a therapy dog cannot go where a service dog can.

    Paralegal 20 yrs

    we have these cases several times a year, where a therapy dog is put out of a mall, store or restaurant, court and judges always rule is not a service dog, and thus cannot have the same access..

    sorry…but maybe if you live in a small town, and now some of the store owners, they will allow you to do so, but most wont, especially if there is food there.

    good luck

  • No, it can’t go into stores that do not already allow dogs. There are enough stores that allow dogs for you to accomplish your training goals. Leave the rest of the stores as safe havens for people with severe dog allergies.

  • No. You would have no rights to public access under the ADA or under most state laws, or under the laws of any other country I have studied. Access laws pertaining to service animals belong to the handler, not the dog. As such, they apply only to people with disabilities.

    Some states permit public access for trainers of service dogs, but most of these require that the trainer be certified themselves or at least from a recognized service dog program.

    The only exception I can think of on therapy dog access is in the state of Kansas, and that applies only to professional therapists. You can view state laws, including Kansas laws pertaining to public access at

    There is a search engine there that you could use to search the laws for mention of therapy dogs. However, I’m the one who maintains that database and I can only recall the one mention of therapy dogs and that was in Kansas.

    It is not necessary to take her in public to train her as a therapy dog. They aren’t going to be working in the same types of situations as a service dog anyway. What she needs to learn most is about dealing with people who are different. You can find those at street fairs and parks. Often you can find people wearing costumes, which are great practice for therapy dogs.

    If an individual business gives you permission to take your dog in, that would be a different matter. But you should not enter any place a pet dog is not ordinarily permitted without permission. This actually includes entering hospitals with a certified therapy dog. In all cases where a therapy dog or therapy dog in training is taken someplace where a pet dog is not permitted, the owner must first have permission.

    If you want to train on tile floors and where food is at eye level, I suggest working at your local pet store. Use shopping carts in the parking lot to simulate wheelchairs. Sit outside a shopping mall or a large store to watch people go by. Often they will stop to talk to you and interact with your dog, which is the very best preparation she can do for therapy work.

    Edit re CGC

    The CGC is not a public access test!!! It does not mean you can take your pet any place other than where other pets go. The purpose of the CGC (Canine Good Citizen) test is to show that your dog is well behaved, not ready to go shopping with you. It is a useful certificate to have because it can lower your home owner’s insurance and can be used as evidence if your dog is ever accused of hurting someone, but that is it.

    Understand that in many states there are criminal laws on the books that can result in a person who takes a non-service dog into a public accommodation where pets are not permitted being fined up to $ 10,000 or jailed up to 1 year (depending on which state it is). So just don’t do it!!!

    Please, if you doubt me on this, contact the AKC (the organization that provides the CGC program) and ask them yourselves. Here is their webpage, with contact information on it:

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