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Are Dogs Allowed In REI? (2024 Update)

Written by: Jeff Weishaupt

Last Updated on May 27, 2024 by Dogster Team

tied dog outside a store

Are Dogs Allowed In REI? (2024 Update)

According to the company’s tweet, Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI) does not allow dogs in their stores unless they are service animals.1

The prohibition is a nuisance for many customers since the store sells equipment and gear for dogs requiring fitting and sizing. Why does a store that sells dog-related gear not allow dogs inside?

REI responded to this objection by saying they want to create an environment in their stores where everyone feels at ease.2 Some people cannot be around animals for health reasons. In other locations, pets are prohibited from entering stores under state and local health codes.


Does REI Allow Emotional Support Animals in Stores?

It’s important to understand that emotional support animals are different from service animals. The former is not officially recognized as service animals by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Therefore, emotional support animals are not allowed in REI stores.

Emotional support dog with an elderly woman
Image Credit: everymmnt, Shutterstock

Which Dogs Are Considered Service Animals?

Since REI stores only allow service dogs, you should know which dogs are considered service animals per the ADA. The Americans with Disabilities Act defines a service animal as a dog that performs tasks or does work for an individual with a disability, including psychiatric, physical, intellectual, mental, or sensory disability.

The tasks a service animal can do include but are not limited to:
  • Pulling a wheelchair
  • Pressing elevator buttons
  • Alerting the individual to a sound
  • Reminding the individual to take medication
  • Retrieving items from the floor (dropped items)
  • Providing balance and navigation assistance

The rules of REI state that the tasks a service animal does should be directly related to its owner’s disability. Even if there’s a doctor’s note stating that the individual has an animal for emotional support, it is still not considered a service animal unless the animal also performs disability-related tasks.

The ADA recognizes the following tasks as services:

  • Seeing Eye or Guide Dog: It is a trained dog that acts as a travel tool for blind individuals or those with visual impairments.
  • Seizure Response Dog: It is a dog trained to assist an individual with a seizure disorder, such as epilepsy. The dog may be trained to stand guard over the individual or go find help if their owner has a seizure. Some dogs can also predict an episode, warning their owner to find a safe place or sit down.
  • Signal or Hearing Dog: Hearing dogs alert individuals with hearing loss or deafness about a sound occurring.
  • Sensory or Social Signal Dog: Sensory dogs assist people with autism disorder and their caregivers. These dogs can do several social tasks, such as cueing their owner to pay attention to crosswalks and street crossings.
  • Psychiatric Service Dog: These dogs assist individuals with psychiatric disabilities, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). They can help their owners avoid or escape from a dangerous situation and redirect their behaviors when they have an emotional crisis.

Do You Need Service Dog Documents to Bring Your Dog to REI?

If you want to take your dog to REI, you should keep your documentation with you. The documentation should prove that the dog is a service animal. You can get these documents from organizations and programs that train service animals.

Although documentation is not mandatory, it will help prevent misunderstandings about your service animal. REI reserves the right to deny you and your service dog entry into their store if you cannot control the animal on their premises.

Jumping on other people, running away from you, and uncontrolled barking are unacceptable behaviors that might result in REI staff asking you to leave their store.

chocolate Labrador retriever service dog
Image Credit: Shine Caramia, Shutterstock

What Are Your Responsibilities as a Service Dog Handler?

Taking your service dog to REI comes with a lot of responsibility. The ADA has the following rules for owners who want to take their service dogs to public spaces and transportation.

  • The service animal must be under the handler’s control at all times. Keep your dog on a leash, tether, or harness. If you cannot hold a leash due to your disability, you should control your dog with other means, such as voice control.
  • Your dog must be housebroken.
  • You are responsible for cleaning up after your service animal since the ADA does not mandate the covered entities to supervise or care for the dog.
  • Your service dog should be vaccinated per local and state laws.

dogster paw divider

Alternatives to Bringing Your Dog to REI

REI sells a host of dog gear, such as dog collars, leashes, harnesses, blankets, toys, and dog packs. But if you cannot take your dog to the store, there are alternatives to shopping for your pet.

old dog with leash resting on the floor beside its owner
Image Credit: Tamas Pap, Unsplash

Online Shopping Options

You can shop for dog gear online from Amazon, Petco, Chewy, and similar stores. Most of these online sites also have refund and return options if you get the sizing wrong during your purchase.

Local Pet-Friendly Stores

Look for local stores that allow pets to accompany their owners. If you’re unsure about a store’s pet policy, check their website or call them.


Final Thoughts

REI only allows service animals to accompany their owners. Being a responsible pet owner, you should keep your service animal on a leash, ensure they are adequately trained, and clean up after them.

Since emotional support dogs are not considered service animals, you cannot bring them into REI stores. But if you cannot shop comfortably without your emotional support dog, try alternative shopping options such as online and local pet-friendly stores.

Featured Image Credit: Savicic, Shutterstock

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