As a nation, the UK loves their pets, with 23 million households owning furry housemates of all shapes and sizes! However, according to Finder 2020, the most popular pet is by far a dog and PFMA revealed that during lockdown alone 2.1 million UK households (19%) collected a new pet! With the world opening up again, travelling with dogs has never been more topical!
Travelling with our four-legged friends can be tricky, so, as dog lovers ourselves, we set about investigating the idyllic scenario for doggy train travel.
We spoke to experts from Battersea Dogs & Cats Home and Pets2Places as well as conducting a focus group of dog lovers in order to craft a flawless furry formula for doggy train travel, incorporating every feature we could think of to keep dogs, and their owners, content! The result? A dream dog carriage that your dogs will drool over.
The pawfect dog carriage
According to the World Travel Market report, dogs represent almost 80% of holidaying pets in the UK, and with travel restrictions easing, there is no better time to dream up the ultimate doggy carriage.
From soundproof carriages to separate compartments, we strived to fully furnish the dream space for our furry friends, with no need uncatered for. Whether your puppy prefers a scenic seat or a quiet nook, our dream carriage has got you covered.
Mind the gap! While some bigger dogs may be happy to bound over the gap, it can be harder for smaller dogs to make that leap of faith. Our carriage features a ramp for crossing the gap between the platform and the train, making it easier for dogs of all sizes to access our services.
Even though the ramp is useful for larger dog breeds, to be on the safe side, it is best to carry smaller dog breeds on board where possible.
While waiting on the platform to start your journey, remember to always keep your dog well behind the yellow line, as noisy trains could frighten your dog and, in extreme cases, could cause an accident.
Separate compartment for nervous dogs
All dogs are different, and whilst some might enjoy the hustle and bustle of train travel, some puppies may find the experience overwhelming. Train stations are noisy and contain a whole range of new and interesting smells for your puppy to deal with, and they may become agitated and upset.
To avoid any doggy discomfort, we’ve included a separate compartment for nervous dogs to keep them relaxed during their journey. This ensures that both owners and their four-legged companions can have a comfortable journey, no doggy counselling needed!
In reality, the seats on our trains have ample room underneath for smaller dogs to seek refuge if they feel more comfortable remaining close to their owner.
Beds and doggy TV
TV time anyone? To keep your dogs entertained, we’ve included cosy TV nooks for them to curl up and catch up on their favourite shows. We will let you fight over the remote, but don’t blame us if re-runs of Tom & Jerry dominate your journey! The familiar noises and sights will help settle them in, and the soothing motion of the train will send them off to sleep in no time.
Afraid of your dog getting spooked? We have allocated quiet carriages on our SWR network for those seeking a more silent space.
However, in our designs for our doggy carriage we’ve devised a soundproof carriage to shield your pets from the scary sounds of train travel. No loud announcements, no bells and certainly no cat sounds – this soundproof carriage is a safe space for all of our furry friends.
Also – if a dog orchestra breaks out in the carriage, passengers in other carriages won’t have to tune into the barking cacophony!
No need to be concerned about puppy potty training in our carriage, as we’ve truly thought of everything. From puppy pee pads to poo bags, avoid all accidents with our facilities.
Doggy carriage notice
In our dream carriage, there is no need to be worried about people who aren’t enthusiastic about pets, or those who might sneeze around dog hair. The doggy carriage is clearly signposted, so you’ll be surrounded by dog owners and dog lovers alike.
Safety for all our South Western Railway customers is always our number one priority, and puppy passengers are no exception. We’ve included lead clips at each seat so your pet can stay safe and secure, and you can be assured they won’t accidentally run out at the wrong stop.
Windows for dogs
We all know how much dogs love admiring the view, and why should they need a doggy booster seat to do so? In our carriage, we don’t advocate any doggy discrimination, so we’ve included window heights to suit all shapes and sizes.
Train travel for dogs is thirsty work. All along our dream doggy carriage we’ve installed water stations to ensure our furry friends stay hydrated – especially if they are breaking a sweat with their puppy companions.
What would a doggy carriage be without a play zone? Chew toys, doggy bones and tug of war – there is something for all tastes in our toy box. With a spacious layout, dogs can roam about the play zone with ease, and maybe gather a few puppy pen-pals in the process.
No need to worry about mucky paws or sandy coats in our carriage, as we’ve taken care to include everything to keep your four-legged companion clean and content. Whether your furry friend needs a wipe or a bigger wash down, they’ll be groomed and glamorous for whatever destination awaits them on our SWR network!
Code of conduct
Even though we’ve worked hard to make our dog carriage a pet metropolis, there is a code of conduct that all puppy passengers will need to adhere to while onboard. We want to make train journeys a paw-sitive experience for everyone and giving puppy dog eyes won’t give you a free pass.
All four-legged passengers must take their human with them, and make sure they keep them on a tight lead! No anti-social behaviour will be tolerated, we don’t want any puppies to feel barked into a corner.
The doggy carriage should be kept clean, and even though our train carriage may look tasty, no bites allowed! Stick to the chew toys to tackle teething so that our dream carriage remains in pristine condition for all puppies to enjoy.
Expert tips for travelling with dogs
Whilst conducting our research to create this ultimate dog carriage, we headed straight to the experts to ensure our carriage was well suited to dogs of all shapes, sizes and needs! We consulted with Ali Taylor, who is the Head of Canine Behaviour and Training from Battersea Dog's and Cat’s Home, to get all the top insights for train travel for our furry friends.
Ensure your dog is microchipped and their flea/worming treatments are up to date before you set off. Also – just in case anything doesn’t go to plan whilst you’re away, it’s always a good idea to check ahead to find out where the local vets is at your destination.
Travel test runs
If your dog isn’t used to train travel, it might be a good idea to ease them in gently to such a new experience. Start by bringing them to the station, and if they are comfortable on the platform, start with a short journey. Try and conduct these test runs during quieter periods, to make sure you have ample space for your puppy to adjust.
Make sure you pack all the essentials for all eventualities – and any spares – just in case. A blanket or bed that is familiar to them, enough food to last the whole trip away, their favourite toys, any medication they might have (and enough of it), long-lasting chews and treats are also a good idea. Don’t forget to pack a towel if your dog is partial to a bit of swimming!
When you’ve arrived at your destination, familiarise yourself with the rules in the local dog parks and beaches. Make sure you keep your puppy on a lead to keep them safe – and most importantly, don’t forget to have fun!
We also consulted with the country’s leading expert on pet transport from Pets2Places to gather their top tips on train travel for dogs.
Spacious seat selection
Choose a seat where there is ample space for your dog, especially if they are a larger breed. If possible, try and choose somewhere where no one else is likely to sit down, just in case your puppy reacts adversely to strangers or even if they have a tendency to be over-friendly!
No puppy zoomies
Tire out your dog with a long walk or exercise before the journey so that they can sleep on the train. This way, they will be less excitable and won’t break out into those notorious puppy zoomies!
Keep treats handy
Train travel is a big adventure for our four-legged companions, and they deserve a few treats to coax them into trying new things, and a few more as rewards for good behaviour. However, try and avoid giving dogs big meals before the journey, we don’t want them to feel motion sick.
To make your dog more comfortable, why not bring their favourite toy or blanket with you? The familiar sights and smells can help calm them down and help them sleep through the journey.
Even though for right now, this dream doggy carriage is just a figment of our imaginations, South Western Railway has always had a pet-friendly policy. So, what can you bring onboard? If you are planning any train travel with your dogs, you can take two dogs (on leads) on your adventures with you. We also welcome all assistance dogs, to ensure all passengers can travel as safely and as comfortably as possible.
Wherever you decide to go with your dog, we hope you have a paw-some time, and remember to make the most of the cheapest deals by planning in advance. Check out our flexible range of train tickets and explore our train times to get to your doggy adventure rolling as swiftly as possible!
To conduct our research, we spoke to experts from Pets2Places and Battersea Dogs & Cats Home to offer the best tips for travelling with our furry best friends.
We also conducted a focus group with current dog owners to hear what they would like to see on a carriage that is specialised for dogs. Here, we discussed what features people would like as well as what makes them nervous when travelling with (and without) their pets to help them feel at ease.
Please note there are no current plans to create a doggy carriage, these designs are for entertainment purposes only.