Traveling by train with a dog: tips and tricks for a stress-free journey

Traveling by train with a dog. How does it actually work? I’m not the right person to talk to, because with two big Rhodesian Ridgebacks, a train doesn’t seem like an adequate means of transport to me. But Kris from the online dog magazine Bellos Reich has experience with it and has written a great guest article for HundeReisenMore.

In the dog school you learn how to walk on a leash and how to deal with it with crowds and how you behave when encountering other dogs. But what is rarely an issue in the dog school is train travel.

Understandable, very few dog schools will have their own training wagon on site. It is so important that your dog can ride the train. Imagine your car breaks down just before a planned trip. What now? Cancel everything? Or are you trying to reach your destination by train?

Do dogs just go along with it? Or does it require some training? And is your dog allowed to get on the train with you at all, or are there any rules you have to follow?

This article deals with all the questions. He will prepare you for traveling by train with your dog and give you all the helpful tips.

Train travel with a dog – guest author Kris explains how it works

Ride the train with your dog – is that allowed everywhere?In Germany, dogs are allowed to travel on Deutsche Bahn trains. However, there may be restrictions within the train and your four-legged friends are of course not allowed to sit on a seat sit.

Even an ICE is no problem. Your dog is just as welcome there as on any other train in Germany. To ensure that traveling by train with a dog is as relaxed as possible for you, you must do some research beforehand.

There are a few things to note, which I will now enlighten you about.

How much are train tickets for dogs?Is your dog no bigger than a cat and can it travel in a carrier on the train? Then he goes with you for free. Half the fare applies to all other dogs.

This also means that you have to buy an additional ticket for your dog. However, this still costs half of your fare. This can be done online or directly at the train station shortly before departure.

Does my dog ​​have to wear a muzzle?For safety reasons, all dogs that are not traveling in a transport box must be on a leash and muzzled on the train. If your dog loses its muzzle or won’t let you put it on after a snack, the train staff can even throw you out the door.

This does not apply to trained assistance dogs and guide dogs. If you are checked, the train staff will ask you to bring all the evidence with you.

Regulations abroadIf your trip takes you outside of Germany, other rules may apply. The following sub-items tell you what to look out for:

FranceIn France, all dogs can travel on the train with a special ticket that costs 7 euros. If you have a smaller dog that needs to be in a transport box with the dimensions 30 cm x 10ß cm x 25 cm, sit on your lap or between your feet. Larger dogs must be on a leash and muzzled, as in Germany. Assistance dogs travel free of charge.


It is similar in Italy: Dogs in transport boxes pay nothing. There is a leash and muzzle obligation, from which guide and assistance dogs are exempt. These are even allowed in the dining car, while all other four-legged friends have to stay outside.

Note that only one free transport box per passenger is allowed.

NetherlandsIn the Netherlands small dogs, that fit in a transport box or on your lap, as well as assistance dogs travel free of charge. However, you must not block a seat. Larger dogs must be on a leash and require a dog day ticket, which costs around 3 euros.

In Austria, traveling by train with a dog is very easy, because dogs are allowed to travel on almost all trains. It’s even cheaper than in Germany.

Dogs traveling in a transport box don’t pay anything. Registered assistance dogs also travel free of charge. All other numbers Percent of full price. For short distances it can be even less.

Muzzle and leash are mandatory, like in Germany.

SwitzerlandDogs with a shoulder height of up to travel in Switzerland centimeters for free by train. To do this, they must be housed in lockable transport boxes. Everyone else needs a dog ticket.

There are even day tickets and other season tickets for dogs that can save you money. However, the four-legged friends are not allowed in dining cars in Switzerland either.

United Kingdom, Ireland, Northern Ireland and NorwayIn these countries, traveling with dogs is not allowed. The only exceptions to this are guide and assistance dogs. Even small dogs in transport boxes may not be taken along.

Further information on traveling by train with a dog in other countries The safest way to travel with your dog is to book the tickets directly at the travel center. There you can ask which regulations apply at your destination. So you definitely have the right tickets with you

Packing list for your train journey with a dog

Traveling by train with a dog works without any problems with good planning and a little practice, Photo: AdinaVoicu/Pixabay

Leash, muzzle and transport box are already on your list. But that’s not all. When traveling by train with a dog, be sure to think of the following items:

RopeCrockery (equipped with an address label or your cell phone number) Muzzle and/or transport box Chew toys for occupationBowlWaterDog snacks and chewsa cozy blanket Emergency cleaning set (wet wipes, kitchen paper, gloves, disinfectant, small garbage bags poo bags possibly sedatives (only with prior consultation with the veterinarian) Needs your dog If you regularly take medication, you must of course also think about this. When traveling abroad, the vaccination card is added. Find out in advance about the relevant entry requirements. A current rabies vaccination is not sufficient everywhere. Some European countries also require a titer determination.

7 tips for stress-free train travel with a dogBefore the big day comes, make good use of the time. Hardly any dog ​​simply travels so easily by train if it doesn’t know it at all. Even the hustle and bustle at the train station causes stress. The crowds at the entrance can unsettle even the most relaxed dog.

So it’s best to plan your trip so that you have enough time beforehand to prepare you and your dog. I have put together seven suitable tips for you:

Tip #1 – Practice makes perfectVisit the train station with your four-legged friend, even if you haven’t got to yours yet want to go on a trip. This is how your dog gets to know the place. On the big day, at least the train station is no longer new to him.

The best way to practice traveling by train with a dog is to take the bus first. They drive shorter distances, so you don’t have to plan a whole day for training. Get in and reward your dog for participating. Don’t drag him onto the bus against his will. This only leads to fear in the future. Slowly increase.

If he just puts his front paws in the door today, that’s okay. You’ll try again tomorrow.

If you can get on and ride the bus, try an underground and/or suburban train or a train. Again, drive the shortest possible distances and reward your dog again and again.

This will also give you a feeling for dangerous situations such as raging children or sudden bends. You will learn when your dog is particularly tense and will be able to react better in the future.

Tip #2 – Get your dog used to a muzzle or carrier Muzzle or transport box. Your dog will have to accept one of the two on the train. If he has a problem with that or doesn’t know these items yet, you will have to train him.

This can take a lot of time. Some dogs are uncomplicated. Others may have had bad experiences, fearing the tight space or the cage around the snout. Then you need a lot of empathy and patience.

A muzzle is not comfortable. So be sure to feed the situation nicely for your dog. It’s a bit tricky, but you can also pass food crumbs through the muzzle.

If you’re having trouble putting on the dog, try special treats. If your dog is allowed to lick a yoghurt cup, he practices putting his nose into a narrow container. You can scratch him behind his ears at the same time, because that’s where the muzzle fastener will be later.

It can take several weeks for your dog to accept the muzzle long enough. So just start training early enough. Regardless of train travel with a dog, it makes sense for your four-legged friend to know the muzzle (the link takes you to an English source on how to use and the importance of a muzzle).

Remember that apart from a train ride, there can always be situations in which your dog has to wear a muzzle. Then of course it’s great if he already knows it and has no problems with it.

You can also make the transport box tasty for your four-legged friend with food. Leave the door open at the beginning so that he can decide for himself when to leave the box again. Ideally, the box should always be visible at your home. So your dog might even use it for naps.

If he relaxes in the transport box, you close it for a short time. Just one moment is really enough to start with. Continue to reward your dog for using the carrier as the source of the treats in Eri remembers.

Tip #3 – The last meal before departure To reduce the risk of your dog doing its small and/or large business on the train you should not start immediately after a meal. It would be best if there were a few hours between the last meal and the start of the journey and ideally a nice long walk.

Of course, this cannot always be arranged. If your trip lasts a long time, your dog should not have to go hungry all day. That’s why you always have your emergency cleaning kit with you… 😉 …

Tip #4 – Reserve a Train CompartmentTrain travel with a dog is most relaxed if you can travel with your four-legged friend in one compartment. There is no through traffic there and it is generally quieter, so that your dog can cope better with the unfamiliar situation.

Tip #5 – Employ your dogOnly experienced four-legged train riders do their owners a favor and sleep through the entire journey. Your four-legged friend will definitely be very nervous the first few times.

So keep him busy so he doesn’t have time to get worked up about his fear. Use chews, toys or a small training session. If your dog manages to focus on you, have him practice some commands he already knows.

Don’t start anything new. The situation is far too stressful for that. But if you brush up on something you already know and get biscuits for it, Bello certainly doesn’t mind.

Remember the muzzle requirement for chew toys or food. Only remove the muzzle from your dog when it is safe. It is best to ask the train staff beforehand if it is okay for a short period of time. Keep an eye on your surroundings. If the train is very full, you should refrain from doing so to be on the safe side.

Your dog can also get dry food from your hand with a muzzle. It takes a bit of practice and a crumb is sure to go wrong. But this is no problem.

Tip #6 – Use possible breaksAlready pay attention to the transfer times when booking. Of course, it’s better for us humans if we don’t have to constantly change trains and wait several hours at the platform. Your dog will gladly accept the occasional pee break.

Also consider that changing trains with bag and baggage can be a challenge even without a dog. Therefore, be sure to plan a few more minutes that you need to change trains. Ideally, there will also be some time that your dog can use to relieve itself.

It would be perfect if you spent half an hour in the fresh air at least every three to four hours when taking the train with your dog can spend. Then you can free your four-legged friend from the muzzle or from the transport box and leave the hustle and bustle of the train station behind you.

Tip #7 – Be prepared for mishaps Traveling by train with a dog is exciting. Especially if it’s the first of a dog’s life. It’s easy for a little mishap to happen, even if you’ve been for a walk beforehand. Don’t worry, that’s not a broken leg.

You and your four-legged friend will not usually be thrown off the train because of this. Just grab a few sheets of kitchen paper from your emergency cleaning kit and wipe it all up again. If there is no garbage can within reach, pack everything in a small garbage bag and dispose of it at the next opportunity.

By the way, your attitude has a significant impact on that of your dog.

A study by the University of Vienna showed that dogs from insecure owners are insecure themselves. At the same time, the researchers found that male dogs are most relaxed and socially agreeable when led by males. Yes, I don’t understand that either.

And a few more tips for traveling by train with a dog

With a relaxed four-legged friend, the train stations and train travel, a train journey can also be fun, photo: Carola68/Pixabay

That was quite a lot of tips. But don’t worry, there’s more to come. In the following sub-items you will find tips that are particularly suitable for short and long as well as small and large dogs:

Short distances If you only have to travel a short distance by train, the effort may seem excessive. But believe me, you will curse that thought. At the latest when you are standing on the platform and your dog is resisting getting on the train with all your might.

So don’t underestimate short distances either. Sure, you need less food, water and probably less cleaning material. But you should still have everything with you.

Let’s say we’re talking about a stretch of until 30 minutes. This time is hardly enough to lie down relaxed and doze off. Especially not if it’s the first train ride. So take something with you that your dog knows and that he could keep busy with during this time.

For example, there are feeding tubes that you can fill yourself. Liverwurst, cottage cheese and other treats with a similar consistency are ideal for this. Your dog can always have a bite of this during this short journey. If you can avoid it, don’t sit near the door, even for short distances. The hustle and bustle is bigger there, which causes stress.

Long distancesMake sure you take enough pee breaks on long journeys and don’t sleep your four-legged friend when he wants to rest. Take a blanket with you that he knows.

If he has one, a cuddly toy or his favorite pillow should not be missing. Also look for a place that you probably won’t have to leave until the end of the trip. This is important for your dog to calm down.

If you bring chewing bones and other chews, make sure that they don’t smell too strong. A pizzle or dried fish are not so good as travel food. Beef scalp or items made from ostriches are better.

Small dogsThe biggest problem when traveling by train with small dogs: you are hardly noticed. The Labbi up front gets food and toys, while the little four-legged friend sits in his box behind bars and watches.

When changing trains, be sure to let your dog out to pee. Remember that these breaks are his only chance to stretch his legs. Do not place the transport box on a seat. It could fall down if you brake hard. In addition, a possible mishap runs directly onto the seat. It is much easier to wipe the floor.

By the way, there are also absorbent disposable pads that are suitable for train travel. Your vet uses them during surgeries and they are also used in the hospital. Put one of them in the transport box so that the whole blanket doesn’t get wet when your four-legged friend runs out.

22603Big dogsWith a big dog you should avoid stairs on the train. They are built so narrow that it is only a matter of time before your dog stumbles on them. So stay downstairs with him and find a seat there.

Ideally you sit by the window and your dog sits between your legs. If that’s not possible, you should sit in the aisle and your dog on the window side, but of course on the floor. In this way you avoid your dog’s tail being stepped on all the time.

With you in between the hustle and bustle, your four-legged friend is also automatically more relaxed. You shield him from it, that calms him down.

Train travel with a dog – my conclusionTravelling by car certainly requires less preparation and is more relaxed on the way . But if that’s not possible or you want to think about our climate, you are welcome in many European countries with your four-legged friend on the train.

Take my tips on traveling by train with your dog for both of you with what you can use. Maybe you’re lucky and your dog is so calm that even a jerky train ride won’t bother him. But I wouldn’t rely on that.

It will definitely need some training and preparation. Otherwise you both get off at your vacation spot and start to panic just thinking about the return trip.

Many thanks to Kris 🫶 for the guest post with the many helpful tips. What experiences have you had while traveling by train? For a city trip with a dog, traveling by train can certainly make sense.

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