It’s a gorgeous day outside and you fancy taking your dog out for a stroll in the park. But it’s a little distance off and you don’t want to drive, or can’t drive. Hmm. What about the bus? Wait – can dogs go on buses?
Can You Take Dogs on Buses?
So, can I take a dog on the bus? It’s true- you can take your dog along with you for a bus ride. Almost every single bus company in the UK permits dogs on board on the bus. However, there are certain things to take into consideration. And there are exceptions.
Most bus companies in the UK allow dogs to accompany their owners onto the bus. This includes Arriva, Stagecoach, the Go-Ahead group, and First group buses.
In London, dogs can go on buses of the TfL group, independent of which bus company the charter originally belongs to. The decision, however, rests with the bus driver. If the bus driver says that your dog is okay to board, he can. However, you can also be refused, and certain things make a refusal likelier.
If you have a pet dog who is not on a line or leash, you may be turned away. Also, if there are multiple dogs on the bus already, you may be asked to not board with your dog.
There are companies like National Express, which do not allow dogs on board at all. However, even they make exceptions for service dogs and trained assistance dogs. But this means that the dog’s papers should be with you, because they will be checked before your dog is allowed on board.
This holds true for service dogs in most circumstances, when you want to take them on buses. Assistance and service dogs need to have identification papers, and you may need to show proof of ownership.
Even in dog friendly coaches, there are some rules to be followed.
- Dogs are not allowed to sit on the seats in buses. Regardless of how big or small, your dog will have to sit on the floor near your feet or in the aisle.
- Small dogs can be made to sit on your lap. That is usually allowed in buses that allow dogs.
- Dogs are generally not allowed without a lead. In case of large dogs or aggressive dogs, a muzzle is recommended.
- If the bus driver decides that your dog should not be on the bus, you are not allowed to ride on that bus with your dog.
- If your dog is unruly or bad-tempered, or simply not trained well enough to obey your commands, he will not be allowed on board. If your dog acts up in the middle of the ride, you may be asked to get off.
Companies like National also require you to have your dog muzzled, if he belongs to the ‘Dangerous Breeds’ list. As a rule, smaller dogs are allowed but with the larger breeds, you need to check before you’ll be able to get on the bus. Even with small dogs, there must be either a crate, or a box, or a leash.
National also puts a one dog per person limit on dogs in buses. Also, on the Megabuses, only service animals are allowed, with their appropriate papers. National Express buses have the same rule regarding Assistance dogs.
You must also take into consideration that if your dog acts up during the bus ride, or if the other passengers complain because of his behavior, you and your dog can be asked to leave. The decision is always within the discretion of the bus driver.
Which brings us to the next consideration: does a dog on a bus need a ticket? What will the first dog bus fare be like? Or is there any dog fare charge?
Not always. Companies like Courtney require pet dogs to pay a £1 charge for the day, while service dogs, assistance dogs, and guide dogs do not need to be paid for. As long as the identification papers of the dog are on hand, the aid dogs can ride for free.
Metroline also allows dogs to travel free at all times, although the decision to allow the dog on board rests with the driver. Similarly, Reading buses offer a Doggy Rover Day Ticket, which you have to pay £1 for, and which allows you to take your dog all day long on all their buses.
As a general rule, service and assistance animals are allowed at all points, but pet dogs are subject to movement restrictions. But even there, most bus lines allow well behaved dogs on board.
As much fun as it can be to take a bus ride with your dog, you should take your dog’s perspective into account as well. Most dogs simply love being able to travel on a bus, once they’ve become accustomed to it. All the new sights, all the new smells, it quickly transforms into their favorite adventure.
However, not every dog can deal with being in close proximity with so many strangers. Some dogs get very overwhelmed by being surrounded by so many alien things. Or in the summer, when the heat can be overpowering, and the small, cramped space does a dog no favors. Taking a small bottle of water and a foldable dish, as well as some refreshing treats for your dog, is always recommended in such weather.
You have to make sure that your dog is calm and accepting of this setting, before placing him into it. You can always encourage him the first few times, by giving him treats and positive reinforcement. It will help your dog understand that going on the bus is a good thing. This will naturally also affect how often you’ll be able to take him on public transport later as well.
Finally, before taking your dog directly on the bus, take a quick look at the ‘Conditions of Carriage’ that that particular bus line follows. That is your guidebook for all the rules that you need to follow (and your dog), as well as how the bus rules work.
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