For hip hounds and metropolitan mutts, a trip to ‘the big smoke’ is a great experience. While you ‘do the sights’, rover will be delighted to ‘do the smells’ – fresh, exciting aromas and dog-friendly London’s many parks are just two of the many attractions. Whether you’re on a flying visit or you’re new in town, here are our tips for getting around – urban-style.
Hooray for Transport for London, who have a sensible attitude to canine commuters and help make travelling in London with your dog a breeze. If fido’s trip to town wouldn’t be complete without a ride in an iconic black cab, then fear not – TfL administer London black cabs, and although carriage is at the driver’s discretion, All Four Paws dog Rigby has stuck out his paw to flag down many a taxi, and has never had a problem. There’s no need to book, either – once you’ve travelled into London, head for the nearest taxi stand or simply hail a black cab on the street.
Alternatively, app-based booking system for black cabs, FREE NOW, has a policy of carrying ‘clean and friendly’ dogs at the driver’s discretion – just press the call button on the app when booking to check in with you driver in advance. Meanwhile, car network Uber advise calling your driver as soon as they accept your request, so that they have the opportunity to make a decision ahead of time.
You can take your dog on the tube, as long as you can carry him on the escalator to prevent damage to delicate paws. Dogs who are fairly small and not too wriggly will love this option, so they can watch the sights from a height! Seasoned traveller, and cocker spaniel, Rigby always takes the escalator. Bigger dogs don’t miss out though – a lot of the stations (clearly marked on the tube map) also have lifts available, or in some instance you can burn off your breakfast and take the stairs together.
All Four Paws top tip: if fido’s a sensitive soul, it’s best to avoid rush hour hotspots such as the City and Leicester Square between 8-9am and 5-6pm, when travelling on public transport.
From underground to overground: London’s inner city overground rail services, such as the Docklands Light Railway, are perfect for venturesome hounds as there won’t be too many steps to climb. TfL also operates some overground rail services as well as trams, all of which accept dogs.
The vast majority of London’s buses are managed by London Bus Services Ltd, a subsidiary of TfL, and will carry dogs happily. Individual bus drivers can refuse carriage, but they must have a valid reason to do so. Buses on main routes run every six to fifteen minutes, so this can prove a flexible way of accompanying your hound around town.
Remember to keep fido on the floor or in a bag, not on the seat. Muddy paws can leave dirt on the seat; and allergies to dogs’ dander can cause some people to have asthmatic attacks or eczema.
If you and your canine sidekick are planning parties on the far side of town, you could consider using a car club or car sharing company, which allow you to pick up vehicles and drop them off at convenient locations across central London. Although most don’t allow dogs, we’ve tracked down a few exceptions including ZipCar, which allows pets in carriers, and DriveNow.
Rover got a hankering to see the Houses of Paw-liament, and spot one of those infamous government cats? Jump on a Thames Clipper boat, which provides both water bus and cruise services, and welcomes well-behaved woofers on leads. It’s also a great way to see many of London’s famous sites.
From Paw-tobello Road to Hyde Bark Corner, fido can be sure of a wonderful adventure – just don’t forget to pack the camera.
For hints and tips on travelling around the UK, take a look at part one of our guide to travelling with dogs. While dogs with jet-setting ambitions should take a peek at our guide to dog-friendly international travel.