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Holiday shopping with your dog

Holiday shopping with your dog can be a wonderful experience. Our pets are companions, so why not have a well-behaved buddy tag along? There are a few considerations to make before heading to your favorite mall with Fido in tow, and after you’ve thought through them all and have prepared, get ready for a festive day of gift hunting.

Consider the Environment

Malls and shopping areas are busy anyway, and it gets worse during the holidays. Does your pup experience these situations often, or are they mainly familiar with the veterinarian and their comfy corner of the couch? If you don’t take your dog in public often, a crowded spot may not be the best place to start. Take them somewhere open, like a park, first, to see how interaction with others goes. 

Allow Adjustment Time

Upon arrival, just barely get out of the car and allow Fido to soak it all in. Familiarizing from a distance with prevent harsh reactions due to fear and uncertainty. Pet them, provide reassurance and comfort. Also ensure you’ve attached their leash, as most places require this. There’s some controversy with retractable variations, but a regular six-foot leash should provide enough slack. Once they seem calm and assured, proceed! Let your dog lead the way, allowing them to notify you know if some uneasy feelings come about.

Stranger Interaction

To pet or not to pet—it’s hard to know how humans are going to react to your sweet cuddle buddy. In a widely dog accepting city, like Portland, Oregon, people are used to seeing animals in public, but smaller towns, not so much. Someone may want to pet, so think about how you feel about that.

Editor’s Note: Jamie Migdal of Fetchfind shares dog socialization tips to help make social situations involving people and other animals more comfortable.

Stores that Allow Dogs

The past few years have been a doggy revolution, and more stores are allowing dogs to shop too, with a few rules, understandably. Below is a general list of places you can go together, but it’s safe to call in advance to double check.

  • Barnes and Noble—Keep in mind the coffee area is off limits.
  • Macy’s—They are notorious for welcoming pups.
  • Bass Pro Shop—Come and shop with your dogs but avoid the restaurants.
  • Lowe’s—Because Fido should have a say on the paint color.
  • Michaels—Some locations offer treats!
  • Pottery Barn---Shop together for a swanky food and water bowl or plush bed.
  • Tractor Supply—Enjoy browsing through all of the tasty pet food selections.
  • Hobby Lobby—Their Yes-to-Pets policy is down right awesome.
  • Ross—Sometimes you may stumble upon some great pup products at Ross.
  • Sephora—You’ll get to see if your four-legged friend approves of your new look.
  • Tiffany & Co.—Diamonds and dogs, two things that bring great happiness.
  • Bath and Body Works—You’ll both smell great afterward.
  • Home Depot—Maybe you’ll be inspired to build a cool dog house.
  • Hallmark—Proceed with caution—lots of breakables in here!

Fun Stuff

Thinking through the technicalities of things can suck the joy out of something, and holiday shopping should be fun! Little things, like dressing festively, can make the difference. You could even twin with your pooch. Seriously, it’s not hard to find adorable human and dog matching outfits! Bring Christmas dog treats along or stop at a café or restaurant that offers both human and canine goodies. Buy a small toy or enjoy browsing a doggy store!

Bring a Friend

Having a friend tag along with their dog does help in several ways. It seems strangers approach less when you are engaged in a conversation with someone else, which helps if you’re concerned about unwarranted interaction. Plus, it’s just way more fun.

The holidays are practically here! So, plan out your day and bring along your dog. Some shopping centers, like Atlantic Station in Atlanta, even have days where furry friends can get a photo made with Santa! Talk about a great way to get into the spirit.


Karyn Wofford is a “Mom” to her fluffy, sweet dog Halli. She spends much of her time traveling and advocating for Type 1 diabetes—and Halli sometimes accompanies her on her adventures. You’ll find Karyn’s work on sites like Mother Earth Living, and in magazines such as Diabetes Forecast.

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