Travelling by public transport

Hey buddy, did you know that public transportation trips, depending on the duration and conditions, can be stressful for the dog? Besides, depending on the destination, the weather conditions (heat, humidity, etc.) may not be ideal because we dogs are used to the climate of our country.

Even if you love your dog very much, it is sometimes preferable to leave him at home with a dogsitter, with a relative or in a pet boarding.

Please also note that some companies do not accept dogs in their catering area and in rare cases, muzzling is mandatory.

On the other hand, if the conditions are ideal, look below, there are plenty of useful tips! 😊

How do you get your dog used to public transportation?

You have to get him used to it little by little and he has to combine this with positive experiences.

Here are a few tips on how to do this:

  • Initially, he must familiarize himself with this new environment (noise, proximity to strangers, etc.).
  • Go for a walk on the station platforms a few times to get him used to it. If he shows signs of stress, take some distance. Associate the noise, the place with receiving delicious treats.
  • Once he is comfortable, take a short bus, train, or boat ride and gradually increase the length of the trip. Don't forget to congratulate him and give him treats.

If despite these attempts your dog is still in a state of panic (panting, blocking, agitation, aggressiveness...), do not insist and speak to a behaviorist veterinarian. It may be a behavioral pathology incompatible with travelling on public transport.

Chien train

In rare cases (at least in Switzerland), the wearing of a muzzle may be mandatory. Don't wait until the day of departure to make him try it because he will need some time to adapt (This was the case for me anyway!!! 😊).

Here are a few tips on how to do this:

  • First of all, get him used to this object. Show him the muzzle while giving him treats.
  • Once he is used to it, he must be able to fit his muzzle in it. To do this, place the muzzle in front of him and with your free hand with a treat, put it through the muzzle and move your dog forward until he reaches the end of the muzzle. Do this several times until your dog can stay with the muzzle for several seconds while you give him treats.
  • The last step is to attach the muzzle. Try it for a few seconds at first and gradually increase the time until you can take him for a walk

If he tries to take the muzzle off, your progress through the stages was too fast. Try to go back to a previous stage.
Don't forget to always congratulate him and give him treats so that he will take it as a positive experience. Above all, be patient!
If, despite this training, your dog does not enjoy putting his muzzle in the muzzle, contact a dog trainer.

Well-being and safety?

  • Did you know that motion sickness (salivation, panting, vomiting...) exists in dogs?
    Don't hesitate to ask your veterinarian for advice if you need it.
  • Depending on the duration of the trip, plan a long walk beforehand.
  • Don't forget to take food and water.
  • If your trip lasts several hours, try to choose a route with several stops, this will allow him to stretch his legs from time to time.
  • If your pet is uncomfortable around strangers, it is better to avoid public transportation.

Where does your dog travel?

Your dog travels with you, close to you. In some companies, small dogs (up to 30 cm in height at the withers) travel in a basket or other suitable means to occupy a seat next to you, but you must obtain a ticket for them.

Even if your dog is very cute, your neighbor may be afraid of dogs or have allergies, in which case, it's better you find another seat.

Where to go?

  • Check the legislation (vaccines, quarantines, etc.) in the selected country. Some countries even refuse entry to foreign animals or certain breeds.
  • Find out about the climate in the destination country at the time of your planned trip. Is it ideal for your dog?
  • Find out if the chosen destination is "dogfriendly" (hotels, activities, transportation, etc.).

You can find all this information for Switzerland on our DFS map here!

What to take along?

To reassure your companion during transport, I suggest you take a soft carrying bag, for a small dog, or for a big one, one of these favorite blankets.

For the rest, it depends on the means of transport you choose, the conditions of the company and the destination. I advise you to look directly with this one.

Otherwise, you can also find all the essential elements for a trip on my checklist here!

Which companies and which rates?

In Switzerland, it is rare that dogs are forbidden on public transport.

As for the rates and conditions, it varies somewhat depending on the company, but in general, small dogs up to 30 cm high at the withers in a basket or other appropriate means that do not occupy a seat don’t need a ticket.

For all dogs over 30 cm in height at the withers, a 2nd class 1/2 fare ticket must be purchased. Well if you're lucky, you may run into a ticket inspector who thinks you're too cute and lets you pass without paying but shhuh! 😊

In summary?

  • Accustoms the dog in a progressive and positive way to this new environment.
  • Ask about the carrier's conditions.
  • If your trip takes several hours, try to choose a route with several stops.
  • If your pet is uncomfortable being near strangers, it's better to avoid public transportation.
  • Depending on the destination, ask your veterinarian if vaccinations and preventive treatments are required.
  • Check the entry requirements for the destination country.
  • Find out if the chosen destination is "dogfriendly".


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