Not everyone who owns a dog has a car — or access to ride-sharing — to get their pup around, so they turn to busses and trains. If you find yourself considering public transportation to get your dog someplace, here's how to do so safely.
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Do Your Research
Not every city allows pets on public transportation, and rules may differ depending on what type of vehicle you're riding on, so research these questions before assuming you can take your doggo on board.
- Are only service animals allowed? Service animals are generally not the same as therapy animals, so make sure your dog has the right training and certifications.
- Do you have to pay a fare for your dog?
- If dogs are allowed, what hours are they permitted? You may be restricted to non-commute hours.
- Is there a size restriction? Dogs that do not fit in a carrier may not be allowed.
Take a look at the your city's public transportation site, or call their hotline, for answers.
Follow the Rules
If non-service dogs are allowed, you'll likely need to follow a few rules in order to let your dog safely ride. You should prepare in a few ways:
- If they fit, put your pet in a carrier, and put that under your seat or in your lap. Try not to block aisles or doorways.
- If not in a carrier, keep your dog on a short leash. You may also be required to muzzle them, whether or not they actually need it.
- Don't let your dog take up or block a seat.
- Make sure your dog is well-behaved. You can't always help your dog's behaviour, but put in the effort to train them to stop barking or growling on command. Your dog should also be trained not to relieve itself until outside.
Be prepared for drivers to have the authority to decide if you and your dog can ride or not, so build a little extra time into your journey in case you can't take the first bus or train that comes along.
Make Your Dog Comfortable
Going on public transportation can be scary for your doggo, so try to make them as comfortable as possible. You'll both feel better, and it will help the trip go better, too. Besides making sure to get them checked out by your vet regularly, you can do a few other things to make them comfortable:
- Make sure their collar, leash and muzzle fit right. If they're in a carrier, make sure it is the right size (ask your vet).
- Find out if they get motion sickness. If they do, get them used to riding in a moving vehicle by taking them on car rides, if possible.
- Bring treats to reward good behaviour. Make it something super tasty that they only get when on public transportation, so it becomes a good experience for them.
- Bring their favourite toy (as long as it isn't noisy), blanket or other comforting item.
- Sit in a low traffic area of the vehicle. Fewer people will walk by you, and if your dog isn't in a carrier, you reduce the chances of them getting stepped on or kicked by accident.
- Give them a quiet place to de-stress at the end of your journey. If you don't have a quiet room for them to chill out in after the ride, try a nearby park or other space where they can relax for a few minutes.
Travelling with your dog, even for a short commute or trip within your city, isn't always a walk in the park. With a little preparation, you can make the trip as safe and smooth as possible, so that once you've reached your destination, you and your dog are both ready to hit the ground running.