Compared to taking three children and a pushchair on the bus, you’d think taking a puppy on a train would be a doddle. But these days my children are better at catching buses than I am, and the prospect of taking our Jack Russell puppy on the train with me was a touch on the scary side.
But I really wanted him to be able to join in my adventures by train.
There are lots of reasons for this, the main one being that, even at his slightly manic age, he’s really good company, the other that I don’t want to resort to car travel every time we take him somewhere.
I like trains so my dog’s going to have to like them too.
Acclimatising to station life
We took things slowly and visited Torquay Station (our nearest train station) a few times before actually boarding a train. He liked the flower beds and didn’t seem perturbed by the trains but was very interested in the announcements.
I tell you, he’s an intelligent dog!
After some discussion, he said he’d like his first journey to be to London. We debated this then opted for a much closer (and more dog-friendly) destination just down the train line. Paignton has everything a dog needs, a dog-friendly beach (not the main one in summer), a new pedestrian route between the seafront and the station, and some green areas to explore.
It’s also just seven minutes from Torquay.
Well it is by train. At the moment, the journey by car along the seafront is taking much longer. Mr D is cycling it faster than the rest of the traffic, and everyone is getting a bit heated.
But Freddie and I didn’t get heated.
Puppy’s first train adventure
We had a lovely outing. The train was just pulling in when we arrived at the station so we hopped straight on board and stayed in the vestibule to avoid any discussions about him wanting a chair to himself.
In the UK two dogs travel free but they’re not allowed on seats.
Freddie did find the initial hustle and bustle of Paignton exciting but the additional space on the newly-pedestrianised street helped a lot, and we also got the chance to do a bit of level-crossing training.
He choose not to wave at the passengers as the train passed.
After a stroll (me) and tug (him) down the street, we sat for a while on a bench (me) and the floor (him) to watch the world go by. He (and I) calmed down a lot during this time and said (both of us) polite hellos to almost everyone that went past.
We also got through a lot of cheese treats (him)!
Life’s a dog-friendly beach
Next it was a walk along the seafront and through Paignton’s harbourside cafes (lovely, you should visit) to a smaller, more dog-friendly beach than the main one. It was time for a bit of off-lead work. After waving the cheese bag under his nose, I let him run off to make friends. He had a lovely game of chase with another Jack Russell.
And learned a thing or two about the depth of rockpools.
Demonstrating some surprisingly good recall skills (we are Jack Russell veterans) he came back several times when called. Even when it was time to set off back to the station. A train was waiting to take us back to Torquay but we had a bit of time to practise getting on and off before it left.
With cheese of course.
We had a lovely trip back chatting to the GWR guard about his train adventures with his own dog. I was very encouraged. This time I sat in a chair and Freddie lay on the floor and seemed super-settled.
I guess a run-around before a train ride really helps.
I’m planning to practise taking my dog on the train again soon. We might try the same journey or a slightly different one. We’re lucky to have some fantastic destinations on the south west train lines (lots of which have beaches!)
Find out how to take your dog on a train
If you’re planning your own train adventure, why not consider taking your four-legged friend along with you. Lots of dogs thrive on new places and experiences. I’ve got plenty of advice on taking your dog on a train, as well as ideas for train adventures over on my adventures by train pages.