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woman and beagle looking out a train window

Tips for taking your dog on public transport

5 min read

A lot of us travel by train, bus or even ferry these days because it’s quick and convenient, but what may seem like a breeze for you can present additional challenges for our four-legged companions. Read this article to find out our top tips for taking dogs on the train.

Travelling around by train or bus is quick and convenient. But what about when you want to bring your dog? There’s so much fun to be had exploring the big city with your four-legged friend by your side. Here’s how to make these journeys a breeze.


Can I take my dog on public transport?

These rules differ by region in New Zealand so you'll need to check with your local public transport company for their guidelines. Before travelling you should visit the operator’s website and read up on the specific rules and limits they have around pets. The Auckland Transport guide can be found here

Keep reading to find out our top tips to make your furry friend feel more comfortable when travelling with your dog on a train.


Obstacles at the train station

When visiting a train station with your dog there are a number of obstacles you may have to go through with your pet. The first is ticket barriers. They can be problematic for dogs; our advice is to use the bigger barriers available and to keep your dog on a short lead. This way your dog can’t panic and try to slip under or over the barrier before it opens.

It’s also important to remember not to use the escalators unless your dog is small enough to be held in your arms. Most dogs will be unfamiliar with escalators, and they are prone to panicking and jumping too early.

It is also possible that their fur could get caught in the escalator when it’s moving, especially if you have a dog with a particularly long coat. Most train stations will have stairs available next to escalators, which will be much more familiar to your dog and are usually the safest option to choose.


Taking your dog into a crowded bus or train station

When travelling with your dog on a train or bus, one of the most stressful parts of the journey for your dog will be walking in a large crowd before you board. This can sometimes cause a dog to be anxious and act differently to how they normally would. Because of this we advise you try to avoid rush hour as much as possible when travelling with your dog on public transport. Outside of rush hour the crowds at the station will usually be smaller – this will be less stressful for your pet.

It’s also important to make sure you keep your dog on a lead when walking through the train station or bus stop. The last thing you want is for them to run off when off the lead.

Where possible you should try and walk slowly with your pet. This helps keep your dog calm and less anxious. If you have to rush or run with your dog it can cause them to become confused and worried.

You may also find it useful when walking with your dog in a train station to carry treats with you. They can be used to distract your dog from the surroundings if needed.


Travelling with a dog on public transport

Once you have boarded the train, bus or ferry there are a number of tips and rules you should follow to not only make the journey better for your dog but also for the people around you.

If you can, try and find a space that is not too busy for you and your dog to sit in. Quieter areas are less stressful for your dog and will help them to relax. It will also give them more floor space to sit and lie down in.

When travelling with a dog on public transport, it’s important once you have found a seat not to let your dog sit or lie down on the seat next to you. Most public transport companies ban pets from sitting on seats, and if you do not follow this rule it could lead to a fine or even both you and your pet being ejected from the bus or train. The ideal place for your dog to sit or lie down would be in your leg space by your seat. This way you can keep an eye on them and they can be close to you without them having to be on a seat. 

Once you have boarded the train you and your dog may encounter other pets travelling. If your dog is not great around other animals you should try to avoid these pets. However, even if your dog is good with animals, you don’t know how the other pets will react, that’s why we advise you try to keep animals separate where possible when taking a dog on the train.