How to travel on public transport with your dog
Training your dog to use public transport can open up a whole vista of new adventures.
Public transport can open up a whole vista of new adventures for you and your dog, especially if you don't have a car.
Dogs thrive on new smells and sights, so using public transport to take them to a new park or walk somewhere exciting can be a brilliant adventure for your dog. If you live in a city or town, public transport can be an easy way to access rural open spaces outside town for your dog to explore.
Using public transport might mean you can take your dog with you when you otherwise might not be able to. We'd always advise you to never leave your dog home alone for longer than they can cope with, and remember that they will need to go to the toilet approximately every four hours. If you're going somewhere dog appropriate, why not take them with you?
Why travelling on public transport isn't for every dog
Just as some humans are happier travelling than others, for dogs, travelling on public transport can be a stressful and scary experience. It's important that you consider your dog's needs and welfare before travelling.
Sometimes, public transport isn't an appropriate method of transportation, for example after an operation at the vet, or when it's hot.
Skills for travelling on public transport
Sitting by you is a key skill to know before starting to go out and about into the world.
Knowing when to lie down will ensure your dog feels more comfortable while travelling.
On a busy train, bus or tram with lots of distractions, it's particularly important that your dog knows how to settle themselves.
Public transport is likely to be filled with lots of distractions, including people eating, and rubbish. Ensuring your dog knows when to leave something will provide you with peace of mind.
What to consider when travelling on public transport with your dog
Mode of transport
Firstly, always check whether the mode of transport you wish to travel on accepts dogs. These rules are generally contained in what's called the 'conditions of carriage.' Don't always assume all modes of public transport accept dogs, and if they do, there may be certain rules you have to follow. Always check with your travel providers before you set off.
|Trains||Usually accept dogs, up to two per passenger|
|Coaches||Usually don't accept dogs|
|Buses||Usually accept dogs at the driver's discretion|
|Taxis||Sometimes accept dogs. Always contact the company in advance to let them know you will be travelling with a dog. Some taxi apps now have an option to choose a pet-friendly taxi.|
|London Underground||Dogs are permitted if they are carried up escalators. This may seem a silly rule, especially if your dog happily trots up and down escalators, but this rule is in place for a reason.|
Using the London Underground
The ridges on escalators can damage your dog's paws. Sadly, we've seen lots of dogs with horrible injuries from this. Please be sure to carry your dog on escalators, or use lifts. You can use TFL's 'plan a journey' feature to plan a route using stairs, and avoiding escalators.
Factors to consider
Ticket barriers: However small and agile you think your dog is, always take your dog through the accessible ticket barriers. This gives your dog more space and time to get through.
Time of day: Have a think about the time of day you will be travelling with your dog. It is always easier to travel with a dog when public transport is less busy. Crowds and small spaces can be very stressful for dogs.
- By law, assistance dogs are allowed on all modes of transport and it is an offence to refuse entry to a person and their assistance dog.
- You are responsible for keeping your dog under control at all times, whether on public transport or not.
- Not everybody loves dogs as much as we do, and sometimes you might come across someone who would rather not sit next to your pooch.
What to take with you
When travelling with your dog on public transport it's important to remember to take anything your dog might need with you:
- Water: public transport can be hot whatever time of the year, so it's important that if you're travelling you take water and something for your dog to drink out of.
- Dog poo bags: Hopefully your dog won't need to go while you're on the bus or train, but you should always be well stocked with poo bags. You can get Dogs Trust yellow bags from our online shop.
- Treats: We fully believe in reward-based methods, so it may be useful to have a stock of treats for when you need to ask your dog to carry out a command. If you're taking a longer journey, you may want to consider taking an activity-based treat, such as a Kong, or snuffle mat, to keep your dog occupied.
- Meals: If you're going to be travelling all day, then remember your dog will need their usual meals.
How to train your dog to travel on a train, bus or car
Introduce them to the new environment
Start to build a positive association with their new environment by rewarding them by giving them a treat or some praise every couple of seconds for being calm.
Reward as the train or bus approaches
As a train or bus approaches and moves away, give your dog plenty of treats so they continue to build on that positive association.
Practice during quiet times
Once your dog is comfortable with the train or bus approaching, you're ready to get on. When you first start training this step, go to a quiet platform at a quiet time of the day.
Keep rewarding them to make sure it's a positive experience and keep the …