This article will sniff around for the details of IKEA’s pup-friendly policies so that you can plan your next furniture shopping expedition accordingly.
By Guest Blogger, Mitchell Park
Unfortunately, you can pretty well assume that your nearest IKEA probably isn’t dog-friendly. Though, if you’re lucky, you may live nearby one of a select few IKEAs which do, in fact, welcome dogs, but it’s not likely.
With that being said, you can expect that nearly all IKEA stores allow service dogs (which are also called assistance dogs), though, know that emotional support or house-pet dogs don’t fall under that category.
Is IKEA dog-friendly or not?
You can fairly confidently assume your neighborhood IKEA is sadly not dog-friendly. Being a multinational company with about 422 stores in 50 countries, IKEA’s rules for dog-friendliness vary from continent to continent. Still, the vast majority aren’t indoors-friendly towards dogs that aren’t service pups.
IKEA has addressed dog-friendliness directly; for example, IKEA Australia released a statement saying, “We love pets! Unfortunately, we are unable to allow them in our stores unless they are genuine assistance dogs.” To clarify, assistance dogs are the same as service dogs (though ‘service dogs’ is more an American term, while ‘assistance dogs’ is the globally accepted term).
Why doesn’t IKEA allow dogs inside its stores?
There are three reasons why IKEA stores generally aren’t dog-friendly, and they’ve seemingly crafted these reasons based on what they believe is best for all customers.
Most IKEA stores want to avoid creating a more raucous store environment, where untrained dogs may bark and bother customers who get startled around doggos.
Also, there have been reports of dogs having potty accidents in previously dog-friendly IKEAs, which led to their blanket decision to shut their doors to dogs.
Also, many IKEAs have restaurants inside, and often local governments don’t allow dogs where food is prepared. One example of a country like that is Canada.
Similarly, IKEA store managers are probably also thinking about customers who may have allergies to pups, with IKEA’s furniture potentially collecting hair and dander.
Finally, IKEA stores are most likely trying to prevent worst-case scenarios, such as dog bites, before they happen. Most dogs are well-behaved, especially if their owners take time to train the dogs, but with 422 large stores worldwide, it’s understandably only a matter of time before a couple of untrained dogs hamper the rules for everyone else.
As a note, these three criteria are very similar to the ones considered by Ontario health authorities when they decided to change policies for Toronto’s dog-friendly patios.
Which IKEAs are still dog friendly?
Do you happen to live in certain towns of Switzerland? If so, many of their IKEAs are dog-friendly. Although most IKEAs aren’t dog-friendly, a select few IKEAs are dog-friendly, though they’re small in number. These towns include Vernier, Aubonne, and Grancia, among several others. Their main rule is that your dog needs to be on a leash, and you’d undoubtedly want to let your dog do their business before trotting inside.
Interestingly, with a bit of research, you can find reports of IKEAs which used to be dog-friendly but no longer are. For example, a past worker of a Seattle IKEA reminisced that, in the early 2000s, customers would regularly frequent that IKEA with their pups. However, after a string of potty accidents from a certain customer’s standard poodle, that particular Seattle IKEA banned dogs from entering the premises permanently. Unfortunately, circumstances like that show it only takes one bad experience for blanket bans for all dogs. Also, it makes you wonder how many other IKEAs used to be dog-friendly until an accident occurred.
Knowing many of their customers would love to bring their dogs along, some IKEAs have addressed their lack of dog-friendliness with a slight compromise.
Their compromise is that, outside of many IKEAs (particularly in Europe), you can find “dog bays,” which are shaded areas outside the store, specially designed for customers to hitch their dogs to posts.
It’s worthwhile to note, however, that IKEA almost certainly wouldn’t let itself be liable for anything happening to your dog at these dog bays while you’re doing your furniture shopping, so be careful if you use them.
Service Dogs vs. Emotional Support Animals (ESA)
If your dog is a service dog, they’re the exception to the rule and more than welcome inside IKEA stores. However, does the same exception apply to therapy dogs or emotional support animals (ESAs)?
Unfortunately, the answer is no — ESA dogs don’t classify as service dogs, so they’re also not allowed within IKEA store premises either.
One Yelp reviewer confirmed as much, commenting that “only certified service dogs are allowed. Emotional support animals are not allowed. They may ask you if your dog is a service dog and what the dog does for you.”
What’s the difference between an emotional support animal and a service dog?
By definition, service dogs are pups paired with less able-bodied people, specifically trained with tasks to help their disabilities. Contrarily, ESA dogs are usually less trained and less task-oriented than their service dog counterparts.
For example, a service dog may be trained by professionals to open doors, sense allergens, or pick up items and often respond to various people’s commands. In contrast, ESA dogs aren’t necessarily professionally trained and are mainly responsive to their owners or family unit commands.
For the most part, service dogs generally are also much more rigorously trained than ESA dogs, often passing standardized tests by accredited organizations of the region. In contrast, ESA dogs either don’t have to pass tests, or their testing is much less tricky.
Delving into more specifics, here are three attributes of service dogs, helping to differentiate them from therapy dogs,
- Human partners of the service dogs are legally disabled, per the country or region’s disability laws.
- Service dogs are trained to help partners’ disabilities, such as cleaning up trash on the floor (by filling a basket), closing a bathroom stall door, or finding an elevator.
- Service dogs are trained to be patient and well-behaved in public.
Those details make it more understandable why service dogs are treated differently for companies like IKEA compared to ESAs. However, that’s not meant to discount the enormously vital role ESAs serve worldwide.
You can see now that IKEA is one of many companies which generally isn’t dog-friendly. There are some exceptions to the rules, such as within Switzerland and hybrid store setups (where you can hitch your dog outside), though, for the most part, only service dogs are allowed within IKEA stores.
Since that’s the case, it’s best if your pup relaxes at home while you choose your next dining table or kitchen set.
about the author
Mitchell Park is a content creator for Spot Dog Walkers. Born and raised in Alberta, Canada, Mitchell enjoys delta blues music and has grown up with dogs all his life. Now, he’s proudly working to help Spot become Canada’s #1 choice for hiring dog walkers.