Travelling With A Dog In The UK

November 02, 2021

Travelling With A Dog In The UK

Whenever we're going somewhere my instant response is, "can the dog come?" I'll always try to find dog-friendly transport and accommodation so my companion doesn't get left at home. Anyone with a companion can relate, I'm sure. I've travelled with the dog around Birmingham and London, taken him along the south-east coast of England, and to Wales; by car, on long distance train, and via public transport. I've learned a lot about slow travel with a dog from places to go to things to do.

There's a lot to consider when going places with your companion. This guide to travelling with your dog in the UK focuses on transport and will help you to keep safe no matter how you choose to travel. Take a look at my slow travel guides for more dog-friendly places to visit.



Dog-Friendly Places In The UK

Contrary to popular belief, there are no laws preventing dogs from entering shops, restaurants, or other buildings in the UK. It all depends on the business owner's personal decision to allow them or not. Almost all pubs, most cafes and coffee shops, many shops, and some restaurants allow dogs to visit. Look for a 'no dogs' sign on the door, and if there isn't one then just ask.

I'm not quite sure where this misconception has come from. Even I was under the impression there were laws restricting where dogs could go. I've now discovered so many dog-friendly places to visit in Birmingham! It's often the smaller, independent businesses who are the most dog-friendly (chains are the least likely), and service is always so much better.



Travelling With A Dog In The UK


Travelling With A Dog In The UK

Travelling between the countries within the United Kingdom with a dog is pretty easy. You can freely travel between England, Wales, Scotland, the Channel Islands, and Isle of Man without a pet passport. Northern Ireland requires a microchip, rabies vaccine, worming treatment, and a pet health certificate.

There are several different options when it comes to travelling with a dog in the UK. Driving in a private car is the easiest and arguably the most comfortable. But travelling via train or bus is relatively straight forward and hassle-free so long as you know the rules.



Travelling In A Car With A Dog

When travelling by with a dog in the UK, there are laws you need to follow. Dogs must be 'suitably restrained' so they cannot distract you while you're driving. The easiest way to do this is by crating your dog, using a travel harness, or setting up a gate for your car boot. Dogs can travel in the front passenger seat so long as you switch off the airbag, move the seat back as far as possible, and use a restraint. If you have a passenger in the front seat, they can hold the dog instead of using a harness or crate.

If you don't own a car and need to hire one, there are dog-friendly options. Avis, Sixt, Europcar, Enterprise, Easirent, Green Motion, Hertz all offer pet-friendly car rentals. They have specific requirements for how your dog or pet should travel with you though. The basic rules are: dogs must be contained, and the car must be returned free of pet hair and odour. Check with each car rental to ensure you follow the rules and don't end up with extortionate fees.



Travelling On Public Transport With A Dog

Dogs are allowed on most public transport options in the UK but there are a few reasons your dog might be refused travel. Some bus lines and most trains limit the number of dogs to a maximum of 1 or 2. If your dog is not on a lead or considered 'too big' to travel they will be refused. You can also be turned away at the driver's discretion so have a back up plan!

A few buses and trams may also require you to pay a fare for your dog to travel. Only one major UK bus company doesn't allow dogs at all on any of their buses or coaches, and that's the National Express.

If you're travelling on the underground with your dog, take the stairs or use the lift rather than the escalators. Carry them through the automatic ticket barriers, and in busy areas. Dogs are required to be on a leash or in a container at all times.



Travelling Long Distance With A Dog

Dogs are allowed free of charge on most trains and metros in the UK with a few restrictions. National Rail permits you to bring 2 dogs per passenger while other train companies let you pay extra to travel with more pets. You can't take your dog into the buffet or restaurant car, or sit them on a seat or table. Whatever train line you travel with, keep your dog on a short leash when on the train or passing through the station. Carry them when going through the automatic ticket gates and on the escalators, or use the lift. If your dog causes damages you may be charged a cleaning fee, and sometimes this is an upfront cost on trains like the Caledonian Sleeper.

A few train companies don't allow dogs at all or have stringent rules that make it difficult to travel with them. Dogs are not allowed to travel on the Eurostar, Manchester Metrolink, or Midlands Metro. Dogs must be carried in a secure container on the Glasgow Subway, and Sheffield Supertram. The only time you can travel with a dog on the Northern Ireland Railway is after 9.30am onany day.



Travelling By Taxi With A Dog

All taxis have to accept assistance dogs but for pet dogs it's down to the discretion of the driver. Depending on the place you're visiting, you may struggle to find a taxi who will allow you to travel with your dog. Calling ahead to confirm it's OK is the best solution.

Unfortunately Uber doesn't have an option to request a dog-friendly driver. You have to text or call the driver after matching with a driver, which can result in a cancellation fee if they say no to your dog. In my experience, most drivers refuse the ride and those who accept it require you to put the dog on your lap. Larger dogs would almost always be refused.



Flying With A Dog

This isn't really an option in the UK. Most airlines don't allow pets to fly in the cabin or as check-in baggage, except for registered assistance dogs. Travelling by train or bus is not only a much better option for your companion, it's also the most eco-friendly too.



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