Dogs on Public Transportation: Commuter Tips for Buses & Trains
If it were up to you and your dog, the two of you would never be apart. You'd go to work together, shop together and travel to exotic locales together. You'd journey from place to place without having to stop and ask where or not you can take your dog on the train?
This fantasy isn't so far-fetched. After all, major cities around the world are becoming increasingly more dog-friendly. However, as a dog parent, you still have to do some legwork to figure out where you can and can't take dogs on public transportation. Read on to learn how to prepare your pooch for public transit and discover where you can find dog-friendly subways and buses.
Is Your Dog Ready for Public Transportation?
When considering whether to bring your dog on the bus or train with you, it's important to remember that, for a dog, riding public transportation is very different from riding in the car. Just because your dog loves being by your side as you drive down the highway doesn't mean they'll be comfortable with other forms of travel.
If your dog is anxious around or aggressive toward people, it may be unsafe to bring them on public transit. In addition to being comfortable with other people, they should know how to maintain space from strangers. As much as a sweetie your pooch is, some people are scared of or allergic to dogs. You'll also want to be confident in your dog's ability to sit quietly in one place before taking them on public transportation. If you have a larger dog, they'll need to sit by your side or at your feet during the ride. Smaller dogs will need to be okay either sitting in your lap or in a carrier.
One more thing: Look out for any signs of motion sickness while they're in the car with you. If they display "lip licking, drooling, shaking, listlessness, uneasiness, unhappy ear positions, whining [or] vomiting," says the American Kennel Club, work on making driving a more relaxing and enjoyable experience for them and see if it helps. Otherwise, you may want to speak to your vet before bringing them on another form of transport.
Preparing for the Commute
If you decide your dog is ready for public transportation, make sure you have several key items to keep them comfortable on the journey.
If you'll be in transit for 30 minutes or more, consider bringing a tote bag with water, a towel, dog treats, bags and a pet first-aid kit. Make sure to give your dog a nice, long walk before boarding to avoid any accidents on the way. If the journey will be long, make time to disembark for bathroom breaks.
Consider crowded commutes as well. If your dog cannot fit in a carrier at or under your feet or sit on your lap it might be a good idea to avoid taking them on a bus or train that is likely going to be full. For one, it could increase their anxiety as they feel like their space (or their best friend in you) is being encroached upon, causing them to act out. Additionally, while your dog might be like a child to you, public transportation is reserved for humans first, which means giving up a seat your dog might be sitting on or near will be required.
Dog-Friendly Transit Systems Around the World
Wondering if you can take your dog on the train or bus in your city or in your next vacation spot? As a general rule, the following transportation systems allow dogs:
- Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority
- Metropolitan Transportation Authority
- Transport for London
- Tokyo Metro
- Paris Metro
- VIA Rail Canada
Make sure to visit the train or bus operator's website to check their rules and restrictions for traveling with dogs. Some only allow small dogs, while others require you to keep your pet in a carrier or other container.
As long as rules permit, bringing dogs on public transportation is absolutely doable in most cases. Take the time to ensure your pup is ready for public transport, then get out there and make some memories on the open road with your best bud.
Erin Ollila is a pet enthusiast who believes in the power of words and how a message can inform — and even transform — its intended audience. Her writing can be found all over the internet and in print, and includes interviews, ghostwriting, blog posts and creative nonfiction. Erin is a geek for SEO and all things social media. She graduated from Fairfield University with an M.F.A. in Creative Writing. Reach out to her on Twitter @ReinventingErin or learn more about her at http://erinollila.com.