Taking your dog on a train

There are plenty of questions to ask when planning a train adventure but if you’re a dog owner, one of the first is going to be this one.

‘Can I take my dog on the train?’

It makes sense doesn’t it. Whether you love walking, wild swimming or even backpack camping, you want your dog to be part of your adventures, join in with your fun and, have a great time.

As well as look cute in your Instagram feed.

The good news is that here in the UK, you can take your dog on a train but he won’t get a seat to himself.

And you can’t take your pig.

It’s early days for us with puppy train-training but below we have plenty of information about taking your dog on the train.

The rest of the adventure will be up to you.

Which pets can you take on a UK train?

We all know there are some unusual pets out there. The other day I saw a ferret taking its owners for a walk along the seafront.

I know! A ferret!

You can take most small pets on a UK train, but unless they are a dog on a lead, they will need to be in a suitable carrier.

Here are some details for train travel with animals in the UK.

  •  You can’t take livestock like goats and sheep with you on the train
  • Your pet mustn’t endanger or inconvenience other people or staff
  • Cats, birds and small animals must all be carried in a rigid, comfortable enclosed basket
  • Animals are not allowed in restaurant cars
  • You can take two animals free but they mustn’t occupy a seat

Taking your dog on a train in the UK

Although travelling to and through Europe by train can be a bit trickier with a dog (see below), here in the UK, we’re lucky to have a welcoming and dog-inclusive train network.

Which is just as well because 27% of UK adults have a dog.

Travelling by train is a great way to keep your carbon emissions down. It’s also a great way to have outdoor adventures without all the hassle of traffic jams and car parking.

Here are some of the details of train travel with a dog in the UK.

  • If you take more than two dogs, the extra ones will cost you 50% of an adult fare
  • Your dog must be either on a lead or in a suitable basket or container
  • Your dog must not occupy a seat
  • Dogs (apart from assistance dogs) are not allowed in restaurant cars
  • Dogs on leads are allowed in first class lounges
  • With the exception of the Caledonian Sleeper between London and Scotland (booking required and deep-cleaning charges apply), dogs are not allowed in sleeper carriages but can travel in a pet carrier in the guard’s van (booking must be made in advance)
  • If your dog is causing a nuisance, train staff have the authority to remove it from the train

Sensible tips for taking your dog on a train

If you’re anything like me, you might be a bit nervous about taking your dog on the train. Will he behave? Will he be stressed? Will he need a wee?

All of these are perfectly natural questions.

To help relieve the stress, I’ve gathered together some helpful hints and tips from seasoned dog-owning train travellers. I haven’t tried all of them yet but we’re getting there with the puppy acclimatisation.

Top tips for doggy train journeys.

  • Remember that stations, trains, people and even announcements create an environment that could initially frighten your dog. Be reassuring and reward him just for being there as well as for good behaviour
  • Take your dog for a decent length walk and let him go to the toilet before you visit the station or get on a train
  • If possible, start acclimatising your dog to stations from a young age. Sit and watch the trains, allow him to sniff around, and practise unusual tasks like crossing bridges and going in lifts. If you can practise using a ticket barrier, the wider, accessible gates are a good place to start
  • Once your dog is used to station life, start off with really short journeys (if possible from a young age). Pick a quieter time of day and travel to somewhere your dog can have fun (we went to the beach on our first puppy train ride).
  • Start off travelling with your dog in the vestibule away from other people then work up to quieter carriages. Try to find seats with space around them, and, if you can, avoid sharing carriages with other dogs.
  • Pack everything your dog will need to keep them comfortable on the trip. Water is particularly important but a known blanket or toy might help them settle more quickly
  • Pack everything you might need if your dog makes a mess. Include poo bags and tissues for mopping up
  • Take notice of your dog’s behaviour, if he shows signs of stress such as being noisy, pawing you or licking his lips often, you will need to take action to soothe the situation or leave the train

Check out this great video from GWR about taking your dog on the train.

Train-training. Teaching your dog to go on the train

As with any other new experience, your dog may need you to give him a bit of time and patience while he gets used to travelling by train.

You’ll probably need some too.

I’ve just started training my puppy to travel on the train with me. He’s getting the hang of it but I’m taking it slowly and working my way up to longer trips.

I’m hoping he’ll want to come wild camping by train at some point.

Taking a dog to Europe by train

Although travelling by train with a dog is relatively easy in the UK, getting to and travelling around Europe is a bit more complicated. I haven’t tried it yet but am hoping to one day (in the distant future).

Before you start considering a doggy trip to Europe yourself, there are a few things you might like to note.

  • Eurostar will only carry guide or assistance dogs on their trains
  • There are a few options with good rail connections to take your dog to Europe on ferries
  • If you want to travel with your dog on the Eurotunnel shuttle, you’ll have to find a friendly taxi company or a friend to take you through in a vehicle
  • You can take your dog on lots of different European trains but each country has its own regulations and charges
  • You need to make sure your dog has the correct vaccinations, microchip and health certificate before you travel

You can find more detail about taking dogs to Europe by train from the excellent Man in Seat 61 website.

Fred and I aren’t at the international travel level yet but we’re looking forward to our next puppy train trip!

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