Using public transport with your dog | Help & Advice | Dogs Trust

Dogs Trust

Travelling with your dog on public transport

Illustration of man walking his dog Why we love travelling with our dogs on public transport

If you don't have a car, public transport can open up a whole vista of new adventures for you and your dog. Dogs thrive on new smells and sights, so use the public transport system to take them to a new park or walk somewhere exciting. 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 more than four hours – if you're going somewhere dog appropriate, who 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.


What to consider when travelling on public transport with your dog

Mode of transport

First things first, 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. You should always check with the relevant travel provider before you travel, but we have set out a rough guide here:

Trains Usually accept dogs, up to two per passenger.
Coaches Usually don't accept dogs.
Buses Usually accept dogs at driver's discretion.
Taxis Sometimes accept dogs. Always contact the company in advance to let them know you will be travelling with a dog.
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 underground

The ridges on escalators can really damage your dog's paws – we've seen lots of dogs with horrible injuries from this. Please be sure to either carry your dog on escalators, or if that's not possible, use the stairs or stations with a lift. You can use TFL's 'plan your journey' feature to plan a route using stairs not escalators.

Other factors

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.

Remember:

  • By law, guide dogs are allowed on all modes of transport and it is an offence to refuse entry to a person and their guide 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.
  • 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.

Skills your dog will need to know

There are lots of basic commands and skills that your dog should have mastered before you travel on public transport with them, which will not only make your journey much easier, but also ensure a more enjoyable, safe and calm experience for your dog.

We would always recommend that you get your dog used to travelling on public transport gradually – don't expect them to travel happily on a rush hour train with you first time.

The key skills your dog should be familiar with before their journey on public transport are:

Illustration of dog sitting   Illustration of dog settling   Illustration of dog sniffing rubbish   Illustration of dog waiting at doorway   Illustration of dog listening  

Reading the signs your dog is giving you

Understanding how your dog communicates with you means you'll be able to recognise when they're feeling confident and happy, as well as times when they might be feeling worried or frightened.

This is important when travelling with your dog on public transport – you will be able to keep them feeling safe and secure. It's important to remember that many of a dog's actions can have lots of different meanings, depending on the situation in which our dog's show them.

For example, a dog might drool and lick their lips in anticipating of dinner being prepared, which is a perfectly normal bodily response. However, if they begin drooling and licking their lips when getting onto a train these actions might show they are feeling worried about the journey ahead.


Get in touch

We'd love to hear from you if you've had a positive or negative experience travelling with your dog on public transport – or even if you just want to say hi.

You can email us at [email protected] or tag us in your social media pics using the hashtag #dogsonthego.