For many dogs, train travel can be a perfect adventure, but there are a few conditions that need to be met to prepare your dog well for transport, as the basis of a successful adventure is a prepared, stress-relieved four-legged companion.
1) Get well informed before travelling
Before you get on the train, find out everything you can about the rules on transporting animals. Not all animals can be carried free of charge. You may have to pay a surcharge for larger animals, buy a ticket or even reserve an extra seat for your dog.
Much depends on the individual case – for example, sometimes a muzzle will be required. Get your dog used to being muzzled in advance, if you cannot muzzle your dog immediately at the request of a member of the train staff, they will have every right to ask you to leave the train at the next station. Get the right size muzzle so that your dog can pant freely. Muzzles do not have to be worn by guide dogs for the blind or dogs accompanying people with disabilities, and they often travel completely free of charge.
2) Gradually to your destination
The easiest way to get to your destination is to get your pet used to crowded public transport from puppyhood onwards. Noises and squeezing on the train and the platform can stress out even the most placid dog if it has never been in such a situation before. The most important rule of thumb: you must convey a sense of calmness so that your dog feels that there is nothing to be afraid of. As soon as your dog starts to behave anxiously, do not speak to him in a soothing tone – this will only give him the impression that something is wrong. Go through gates and entrances with a confident, almost demonstrative step. This will make your dog understand that you are in a safe area. It is advisable to get particularly anxious dogs used to platforms and trains by walking short distances with them for training. You can take your dog out of town on the train, go for a relaxing walk with him as a reward and then return on the same means of transport. Make the journey even more attractive with healthy treats.
3) Make sure your dog knows basic commands
Your dog should respond obediently to basic commands such as „sit”, „stay”, and „to leg” before you take him on the journey. This will be helpful. The mutual bond between dog and owner also helps a lot. If you’ve just taken an adult dog from a shelter, take some time to get him used to you before taking him on a train or other mode of transport.
4) Take care of your dog’s safety in a crowd
Going up the stairs with a very large or very small dog should be avoided. For example, changing platforms alone often involves going up and down stairs. If possible, carry your pet in your arms, or use elevators or disabled approaches.
5) Keep your dog under control
On the platform and the train, always keep your dog on a short lead so that you can keep his behaviour under close control at all times – for example, if you meet another dog in the carriage. Let your dog lie down between your feet – many dogs spend the whole journey snoozing there. If your dog travels in a carrier, you can place the carrier on your lap or, if there is enough space, on the seat next to you, unless you have a special place reserved for your dog.
6) Know when to feed your dog
Feed your dog around 12 hours before you plan to travel. It is a safety precaution just in case your pup might get travel sick or to avoid him/her having a „bathroom accident” during the train journey. You should also make sure that you take your dog for a walk before the journey so that he/she can empty his/her bladder.
7) Have your dog’s necessities with you
If the journey is a long one, you will need several other accessories in addition to the muzzle, such as a travel bowl for water and a soft blanket to make the journey more comfortable for your dog.