Your four-legged hiking partner, crag dog, or paddling pup is always by your side on your outdoor adventures, so it only makes sense that they should get to tag along when selecting outdoor gear—especially if it’s for them. Because of this (and because of how much EMSers love meeting adventure hounds), Eastern Mountain Sports recently announced that its stores are now dog-friendly.

It’s always a good idea to gather a little beta before you hit the trail, head up a route, get in the water, or visit an EMS with your pup. So here are a few tips for visiting an EMS store with your dog.

Credit: Tim Peck

Is Your Dog Ready for a Shopping Adventure?

An adventure to EMS is a bit different than one outside, and before you loose the hounds in your local EMS, there are a few things to think about. In an EMS, there are generally more people, closer confines, and a less clear view than in the outdoors. There are also a host of new sounds, sights, and smells for your pup to process and most likely some strangers anxious to make your dog’s acquaintance.

Some of us are lucky dogs and blessed with good boys and girls who have no problem acclimating to and behaving well in busy stores, while other pups’ public pedigree might raise some questions. If your dog is skittish or anxious about visiting EMS, start small and visit during off-hours when the store is less busy and keep visits short. A brightly colored vest with a saying like “Don’t Pet Me” or “Anxious. Ignore Me” is an easy way to beat back those begging to meet your dog.

Some dogs, like some people, simply prefer spending time in the great outdoors, rather than in a great outdoor store. For them, there is always—so long as they have a positive opinion of the mail person.

Every Dog Has Its Day

Even if your furry friend is a model of good behavior, keep an eye on them throughout your visit to ensure they don’t need a break—either bathroom or just a few minutes outside of the store. If your dog signals that they’re ready to go home, call it a day, even if you still have some shopping to do (remember, there’s always When a dog has a positive experience on their first trip to EMS, they’ll get excited about a return visit.

Think of shopping with a dog like hiking, climbing, or paddling. We don’t start with a Presidential Traverse, an iconic alpine climb, or with a multi-day canoe trip. Rather, we start small, develop skills, and build up to bigger trips.

Credit: Tim Peck

Don’t Forget the Dog Gear

Just like an outdoor adventure, a trip to EMS with your dog requires gear, and having the proper kit for the situation can make the difference between a great trip and one that goes to the dogs. A few key pieces of kit include:

  • Leash: A fixed-length leash keeps you in control of your dog, prevents people from tripping over the leash, and won’t clean out a shelf full of water bottles if your pup makes a sharp turn before you’re ready.
  • Hydration: A collapsible water bowl and a bottle of water are handy to have on hand should your dog get thirsty.
  • Snacks: While you’re treating yourself at EMS, don’t forget to treat your good boy or girl. Reward good behavior like heeling while you browse, sitting while you try on a pair of shoes, or minding their manners when meeting a stranger.
  • Bio: You’re not in the dog house, accidents happen. Keep a poop bag or two on hand…just in case. EMS is an exciting place and it’s easy to get nervous when deciding whether or not a pack fits right—if an excited/nervous pee does happen, just let an associate know; it’s not the type of surprise EMS employees are excited to discover after you leave, but with a quick heads up, it’s no problem. It happens to the best of us.

Although accidents do happen, one way to avoid talking to an associate with your tail tucked between your legs is to give your dog a short walk before bringing them into the store. This allows them to burn off some energy and provides an opportunity to take care of business.

Puppy Love

Shopping with your four-legged friend is an awesome experience for everyone: You get to spend time with your favorite trail pal, EMS staff get a cute, cuddly customer, and your dog gets a fun outing that tightens its bond with you, builds social skills, gets some pets, and eats some treats.

Have you and your ultimutt adventure buddy visited an EMS recently? Let us know by tagging your posts with #DogsOfEMS.