Of dogs and public transport

Cuteness can be a curse, especially if you’re a dog. I’m sure that all of us have been asked by strangers for permission to pet our dogs – particularly on public transport. It’s hard to say no because, let’s be honest, it is nice that other people find them cute. Moreover, I personally feel like they should be rewarded for asking (instead of just reaching out for them, as if dogs were objects…). And yet, I say no. To everyone. Even to the grandmas. Even to the children.

Because dogs can’t escape the outstretched hand in that situation.

Because dogs – just like people – have the right to choose who touches them and when.

Because even if they’re used to it, public transport is still challenging for dogs – full of sudden movements, smells and unknown objects – and I don’t want to make it harder.

What can you say to people?

Thank you for asking, we appreciate it, but…

  • my dog doesn’t like being petted by strangers1
  • this is a stressful situation for my dog, so I’d rather you didn’t2
  • my dog can’t communicate their preference clearly in this situation, so I’d rather you didn’t
a dog in a muzzle sitting between the legs of its guardian on a bus
Don’t forget your well-fitted muzzle! 🙂

How can you make travelling on public transport easier on your dog?

If they are not used to public transport:

  • get them used to it by starting with mostly empty vehicles
  • create good associations: initially take them on public transport only to get somewhere fun for them

Find a good spot for them:

  • avoid peak times if possible
  • help them find safe spaces (for example corners)
  • position yourself so that you protect them and especially their tails from being stepped on

Once you found a good spot:

  • watch out for other dogs and children
  • if they like it, pet them calmly
  • if they take treats, treat them
  • support them as much as they need, their tolerance for public transport might vary depending on how they’re feeling on a particular day
  • don’t let strangers pet them 😉


  1. This one is usually true.
  2. Even if your dog is fine, this is a great white lie.