While living in Germany with Hershey, a whole new world was opened up to us as pet owners. Europe, in general, is a very pet-friendly place to be. Virtually every where you go, you would see someone with their dog in tow. All types of stores allowed dogs. You would even see dogs in the very upscale department stores. The very first time I noticed this, I asked my aunt if there was a limit to the size of a dog you could bring into a store. She said you could bring a small pony if you wanted to. Boy, would she be surprised at the size of a Shiloh.

The mass-transit systems throughout Germany were also very accommodating to pet owners. They even had a specially priced fare for one traveling with a dog. The logo on the ticket vending machine showed an adult human with a dog standing next to him. The price was equivalent to an adult traveling with a child. Hershey was able to ride on public buses, street cars and even on a train.

Restaurants were a very special treat. Virtually all of them allowed dogs (if a dog was not allowed there would be a sign on the door specifically stating that dogs must stay outside). Hershey loved this. On her very first visit to a restaurant (her first day in Germany), she acted as if it was something she did everyday. Restaurant owners were very accommodating and would even bring over a bowl of water for your companion. Some proprietors would even feed your dog leftovers if you allowed it.

Whenever we would go to a restaurant, Hershey would get into her spot under the table and stay there quietly until we were ready to leave. Hershey was a long-haired German Shepherd and was truly favored by the older generation of German people who met her. They frequently would say she reminded them of the Alter-Deutche Schaeferhund of their childhood. (The Alter-Deutche Shaeferhund has since become an established breed in Germany. It is distinguished from the German Shepherd by its long-haired coat).

We never had to ask if a hotel in Germany allowed dogs. They just did. In fact, during rainy weather, the hotel clerk would even give you a towel to wipe your dog’s feet on.

After our experiences in Germany, we continued to look for places here in the United States that would take our dog. The traditional places like PetsMart, Petco and any other pet specialty store just didn’t seem like enough. We began looking for more.

First and foremost when traveling (and shopping) with your dog is to try and present the best dog that people have ever seen. A well-mannered dog in a store (no matter the size) blends in and often goes hardly noticed. However, a bad dog is always remembered and will cause other dogs to possibly be banned from a place they were previously allowed.

In today’s environment there is often disagreement amongst pet owners and persons who use service dogs as to where a dog should be allowed. I think living in Germany has provided me with the experience to see that public access for pets can be done; and it can be done well without infringing on the special rights of the service dog. You just need to follow some basic guidelines when taking your dog into stores.


  • Have a well-mannered, well-socialized dog. If you don’t, leave your dog at home.
  • Obey all leash laws (regardless whether or not you agree with them). I have never seen an unleashed dog allowed in a store.
  • Have a clean, well-groomed dog. Wet, muddy, smelly dogs are not welcomed. If the weather is not agreeable, don’t take your dog the store.
  • If your dog has an accident, don’t ignore it. Do everything you can to make sure it is cleaned up—quickly! Remember to apologize for the inconvenience it caused.
  • Don’t force the issue. If a proprietor says you can’t bring your dog in—DON’T.
  • Don’t let your dog bark in a store. Seen, but not heard, is the best rule of thumb.


Note: Never take it for granted that accidents can’t happen; and be prepared to face the consequence should one occur.

Traveling with a dog is easier now than ever. Some people, however, push the issue to the extreme and can eventually cause the hotel to ban all dogs. Access for pets, it seems is always an ALL or NONE rule. They either allow dogs or they don’t. To help keep the access open here are some extra guidelines in addition to those listed above.


  • Always, but always, pick up after your dog. No matter where you are and no matter if it is required. If there is no trash can available, ask for one.
  • Try to never leave your dog in a hotel room alone. If you must, make it for a VERY short period of time. I have been to hotels where travelers have left their dog in the room all day and the dog bark all day long.
  • If you leave your dog in the room, have it kenneled for its safety and that of the room.
  • If the weather is bad, be sure to bring towels along to wipe feet.
  • A quiet dog is a welcomed dog.


The horror stories that I have been told by hotel management are amazing. There were tales of a dog left in the room all day and it ate the couch. Another tale told of one that ate all the baseboard molding. If your dog accidentally does some damage while left alone, repair it and/or offer compensation to the hotel immediately.

Here are some of the things we do to scout out new places to take our dog:


  • Keep your eyes open for other dogs in the building. If you see one that is NOT a service dog, ask an employee if dogs are allowed.
  • If you see one, is it owned by the proprietor? If so, this does not necessarily mean other dogs are allowed. But, it does give the opportunity for you to ask if dogs are allowed.
  • Read periodicals geared toward dogs. Frequently new places that allow dogs are featured here.


The most well-known places that allow dogs are PetsMart and Petco. These are great places to practice “shopping”. Once this becomes “old hat”, it’s time to move on to the new ones. As a general rule, the following types of stores are usually accommodating to people and their pets (however, it is best to scout each new place individually before taking your dog):


  • bicycle stores
  • car lots
  • craft shows (outdoor)
  • farmer’s markets
  • gardening/landscaping stores
  • hardware stores
  • home improvement stores (i.e. Home Depot)
  • lumber stores
  • outdoor street markets
  • outdoor adventure stores
  • pet specialty stores/markets


*Note: Home Depot often changes their pet access (within the same store) frequently. If you haven’t been there in a while, scout the store, ask questions and, if they say no or ask you to take your pet out, do so obligingly and try again several weeks later. If you create a scene, they just might not ever let you personally back in.

Your dog is part of the family. Taking him/her with you makes the new adventure all the more fun. I hope this has helped to make it a bit easier.


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Last modified: 9/14/03