7 Tips For Commuting With A Dog From Experts At The RSPCA & Battersea Dogs Home
For dog lovers, the possibility of adopting your very own fluff ball is perhaps the pinnacle of life. Musing about long walks and your very own little BFF to keep you company. This is what dreams are actually made of, guys. However, in order to be a responsible dog parent, there are a million and one things you need to think of before you even consider popping to your nearest shelter. Like, say, what your work situation is. And, if you can bring your pet to work, what tips do you need for commuting with your dog?
Picking the right dog for you is not only about what suits you best, but more importantly what suits the animal best. Because a dog is most definitely for life. RSPCA dog welfare expert Lisa Hens kindly took the time to advise me on this topic and said that, when it comes to commuting with a dog, it's definitely not a one-size-fits-all approach. Hens said:
"All dogs are individual, so it's really important to factor in your dog's unique personality and temperament when deciding whether he or she will be happy coming to work with you — or whether the experience could be stressful or frightening. This includes the commute to and from work."
Rhona Nason, Canine Behaviourist and Training Advisor at Battersea Dogs & Cats Home said on the subject:
"There are definitely benefits for dogs and owners alike to take their dogs into work. Some dogs suffer with separation anxiety, and don’t like being alone for long periods of time. These kinds of dogs would really benefit from being able to go into work with their owner, provided it was a calm, dog-friendly environment where the dog could relax."
Below are seven helpful tips from Nason and Hens that'll help make commuting with your dog work for you both.
1. Make Sure Ahead Of Time That You're Definitely Allowed Your Dog At Work
Remember, guys, not only is your boss in charge of this decision — so are your colleagues. So before you even step onto the train platform, make sure your team are all cool with you bringing the babe in.
If you get the all clear, bringing your dog in could have huge benefits for your workplace. As Nason points out, dogs are known to increase morale at work:
"Studies have shown benefits to the health and productivity levels of staff when dogs have been in the workplace as it increases interaction, releases 'happy hormones' and encourages staff to get up and move about more."
2. Size Matters
Lots of people dream about having big dogs, but the obvious issue with that is space. It would be unfair to force a larger dog to cram into tight spaces. Nason says, when it comes to adopting your dog, size really does matter:
"Always consider your current commute and workspace before picking a dog to take to work with you. If you need to commute on the Underground in rush hour and work in a small office, then a Great Dane may not be the best type of dog for you!"
3. Ensure Your Dog Is Comfortable In Cars
We are all too familiar with the image of a cute AF dog with its head out the window loving life. However, for some little angels, going in the car can be really unpleasant. Hens has some great advice about helping dogs who feel unwell or scared during car journeys:
"Some dogs can get sick or find going in the car really frightening, so introduce your pet to car journeys slowly and gradually with lots of positive, reward-based experiences. Make sure they’re safely secured in the car for each journey either by using a dog guard, dog crate, or special car harness."
4. Make Sure Your Dog Isn't Too Nervous
One of the things that can stress anybody out, canine or not, is crowds and interaction with people. Some dogs may be nervous of people, especially ones that have experienced abuse in their past. As Hens explains, "trains, buses and the Tube can be extremely busy and noisy which can be really frightening for dogs."
This is why you really have to take a second to think: is bringing your dog to work on public transport a kind thing to do for the animal? And is the office a suitable space for them?
Nason speaks about the importance of doing what is right for your pooch, and not expecting them to just adapt straight away:
"If your dog is very nervous of new and busy environments, or is reactive to strangers, then they may not be the best office and commute companion. Never force your dog to go into a situation that would make them uncomfortable."
5. Practice Runs Are A Good Idea
Perhaps another nice idea might be getting a few dry runs in. Going on your regular travel route over the weekend or in between rush hour times is a good idea. "Ease your dog in gently," Hens says. "If your dog isn’t used to commuting, then introduce them to the idea slowly. Use public transport at times when it is quieter until they’re used to it."
6. Consider The Weather
Now, when it comes to commuting, especially in the UK, the weather is always worth considering — with or without a dog. However, if it's very hot and you're travelling with your dog, you have to be extremely cautious. Nason says that certain dogs are particularly uncomfortable in hotter climates. "If it is very warm outside then your dog may be best left at home," the canine behaviourist says. "Especially if they’re a flat-faced breed, like a French Bulldog or Pug, as they will struggle to breathe in hotter climates."
Hens adds: "And remember: never, ever leave a dog in a car unattended on a warm day."
7. If Commuting Doesn't Work For Your Dog, Get Some Help
Even if your dream of having a dog that accompanies you everywhere doesn't quite pan out, remember that isn't the end of your doggy dream. You just need to think about other options that may be available to you. "For those of us who can't take our dogs to work with us, family and friends, or a dog sitter can keep your dog company while you’re at work," Hens says.
Both Battersea Dogs Home and the Dogs Trust, along with many shelters across the UK, have lots of lovely dogs that need new homes. Adopt don't shop. And once you two get the hang of each other, enjoy your new life as a dog parent.