Brindle lurcher on Underground

Taking dogs on trains

We often need to get to places with our pets on public transport. Luckily, this is made a little bit easier for us due to train services allowing dogs, cats and small animals.

However, there are certain things that you can do to make your pet’s journey on the train more enjoyable for the both of you and other passengers.

What rules apply to travelling with your pet on the train?

National Rail has set some rules that must be followed if you want to travel with your animal on the train.

Rules

  • Maximum of two dogs allowed per passenger
  • Dogs must be kept on lead at all times
  • Animals not on lead must be placed in enclosed pet carriers
  • Animals, even those in pet carriers, are not allowed on the seats. The train company can charge you for the occupied seat.
  • Animals aren’t allowed in restaurant cars except for assistance dogs
  • Byelaw 16 allows the train company to refuse carriage or entry to any animal. This also applies if your dog or other animal is causing nuisance or inconvenience to other passengers.
  • Livestock are not allowed on the train
  • If you are taking a trip to Scotland, the Caledonian Sleeper allows dogs on board. A charge for heavy duty cleaning will apply and all bookings should be made at least 48 hours in advance.

Please note: These rules relate to UK train travel only. Eurostar currently don’t allow dogs on their train carriages.

Safety

Be sure to take care on your journey with your pet by following some simple safety guidelines.

  • Use the accessibility and mobility access gate when entering the station with your pet – this gives you more time and space to get through the ticket barriers
  • Stay behind the yellow line on the platform 
  • Do not trespass on the tracks or any other part of the railway that is not available to passengers
  • If you have an elderly dog, use lifts instead of stairs (where provided) at the station to lessen the strain on your dog and to avoid causing any obstruction on the stairways
  • You must always ensure that you carry water for your dog on long train journeys
  • Even if your dog enjoys being around other dogs, it may be best to keep them separate if you see another dog on transportation. Stress and anxiety can cause your dog to react differently in certain situations.
  • Ask people not to stroke your dog unless you know they are comfortable with this
  • If your dog does have a fear of unfamiliar people then you should avoid the train
  • Avoid travelling during rush hour
  • If the train is too full, wait for the next one. Don’t try to squeeze on with your pet. If in a pet carrier, they may feel overwhelmed and, if on lead, they may get their paws stepped on!
Golden labrador sat on train platform

How can you make train travel easier for your dog?

The train, especially at rush hour, can be overwhelming for us as humans, so imagine how this can feel to a dog; lots of new smells, heat and crowded spaces. However, if you carefully train your dog you can help to make their journey as stress free as possible.

Training:

  • To begin with, you should introduce your dog to the train in short bursts
  • Start by taking them into the ticket hall and letting them get used to the crowds by positively rewarding them when they sit or look at ease. For some dogs you may need to get them to concentrate on you so that they learn to pay attention to you in a busy environment.
  • Once they’re happy in the ticket hall, start to introduce them to the ticket barriers by walking through using treats or strokes to make them feel more relaxed 
  • If you feel that he/she is now confident in the hustle and bustle of the ticket hall you can take your first journey. Start by taking the train to the next station and closely monitoring how your dog reacts and build up the time on trains from there.

Tips:

  • Start training your dog as young as possible
  • Pairing new experiences with something nice is always a great way to reinforce calm behaviour
  • If you are able to, try to get a seat with space so that your dog can sit/lie on the floor beside you
  • Some dogs will be more anxious than others so, if you think that your dog is stressed on the train, try to limit your time spent on them

Signs that your dog is unhappy on the train

If your dog displays any of the following behaviours, you should closely monitor them and make a decision on whether or not to remove them from the situation if the behaviour persists or increases: 

  • panting excessively
  • pacing
  • tail tucked between legs
  • vocalisation
  • lip licking
  • excessive yawning
  • ears back 
  • whites of the eyes show excessively 
  • paw raise
  • chewing the lead, which can be a stress reliever
  • displacement behaviour/distracting themselves using normal behaviours that they wouldn’t usually display in that particular situation. This can be things like excessive sniffing or scratching themselves.

Travel in the heat

Dogs can quickly become overheated and this can be exacerbated by stress and anxiety, so please monitor them carefully. More information on travelling with your dog in the heat can be found on our website.

Thinking of taking your dog on the Underground or in a taxi instead? Check out our advice for travelling with your dog on London Underground and how to travel with your dog by taxi.

— Page last updated 17/05/2019

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