If you need to take your dog somewhere with you and going by road is not an option, you might be wondering if it is possible to take your dog on a train journey with you. While you may never have noticed dogs on trains and on the platforms of stations (other than assistance dogs) it is certainly not all that uncommon! All of the main train companies within the UK allow the transit of dogs, with certain restrictions in some cases at very busy times. So it is certainly a viable option to take your dog on the train with you, as long as you go about things the right way!
Read on for our tips and advice on train travel with your dog.
Your dog must be reasonably well behaved, well trained and responsive in order to enter an enclosed environment where other people will be present, so do not consider train travel with your dog if you are not confident in your ability to control them. If you have any doubts about your dog’s temperament or behaviour, use a muzzle on them, and make sure that you use a lead and harness that provides enough control of your dog.
Train stations and train carriages themselves are often very busy and crowded, with a lot of people milling around and moving quickly, so try to arrange your journey for quieter, off-peak times to minimise this. Think about how your dog will react to being surrounded by a lot of strangers, movement and noise, and if they have the temperament to cope with this, along with the presence of the trains themselves.
Ensure that you leave yourself plenty of time to catch your train with your dog, as rushing will add stress to both dog and owner! Never take your dog on escalators, and always be mindful of obstacles such as ticket barriers (use the manned gate) etc. Try to find the quietest area of the station and the platform to wait in with your dog, and stand well back from the tracks, both for your own safety and to avoid startling your dog when a train approaches.
Remember to let other people off the train first, and stand well back from the doors when people are disembarking in order to allow them room to keep clear of your dog, and so that your dog does not feel crowded. If your dog is large enough and happy to step into the carriage themselves, this is fine, but if they are small or nervous or there is a large gap between the train and the platform, be prepared to lift them into the carriage gently.
When disembarking, again, prepare to lift your dog if necessary, and wait until other people have got off first to avoid standing around in a crowd of people who are waiting to leap off.
Try to find a place to sit or stand where you will not be surrounded by lots of people; this may mean standing in the lobbies between carriages if the carriages are very crowded. Your dog should never sit on a seat or be in the aisle in the way of other passengers, and bear in mind that if someone does not want to sit next to a dog, you should be the ones to move. Ideally, your dog should sit in your leg space, or under a table; one thing to be aware of is where your dog’s tail is, and that it is not poking out into the aisle where it might be trod on!
Do not let your dog approach or bother other passengers, but be prepared for the possibility that some passengers might be delighted to find a dog accompanying their journey, and may wish to say hello to them. Do not feed your dog on the train, but have water available to offer to them if your journey is long.
Even if you wish to get to your destination in the shortest possible time, you should be willing to break up or slow down your journey to account for your dog’s needs. Give them ample opportunity to go to the toilet (not in the stations!) and have water, and if you need to feed them, work out where and how on the journey you can stop to do this.
There is a small possibility that you might run into another person travelling with a dog while on your train, or with a smaller animal in a pet carrier. Be alert to this and how your dog is likely to react, and ensure that your dog does not get into an altercation with another dog, or scare or hassle smaller animals!
Also bear in mind that not everyone likes dogs, and some people may be allergic to them, to be alert to any signs of discomfort in your fellow passengers and if possible, move to accommodate for their feelings.