Travel by coach

The following information has been written to aid guide and assistance dog owners wishing to travel with their dogs by coach. It summarises the procedures that should be taken to successfully travel with a guide or assistance dog. Please note, this page is general guidance, and for a comprehensive answer to specific questions, you should contact the coach operator, travel agent you booked the trip with or the rail or ferry operator the coach operator is looking to use to cross the channel. You should also read and familiarise yourself with the section on the Welfare Considerations page on this website.

As with all more complex journeys, you should first consider if it is appropriate to undertake the journey with your dog. If you are not sure, you should contact your local Guide Dogs Mobility Team or the assistance dog organisation who trained your dog, for advice.

Firstly, you should find out from the coach operator what accommodation will be available for your dog on the coach they are planning to use for the trip. Coaches come in many configurations, and seating and floor space can vary greatly between vehicles.

Ideally, you are looking to get the coach operator to reserve floor space in the seat next to you, or provide space for your dog in an allocated floor area. This must not be in the gangway or where the dog may block other emergency exits.

It is advisable to tether your dog to a seat belt or seat stanchion using a car harness, which can be obtained from pet shops or veterinary practises. This is to ensure, that in the case of an emergency stop, your dog does not slide down the gangway or fall down steps by doorways.

Dependent on how the coach is crossing the channel, you will need to find out what accommodation is available for you and your dog, in the coach, on the ferry or rail vehicle on the crossing, and where you can go prior to crossing the channel, or on arrival to relieve your dog.

As with other modes of international travel, your dog will have to comply with the European Pets Travel Scheme, (PETS). You will need to ensure you know when checks will be carried out on your journey, also where you can get the prescribed Tape Worm treatment for your dog prior to your return to the UK. The PETS travel page on this website has guidance and contact information and what you need to do to comply with it.

As with other modes of road travel, it is important that your dog has regular rest breaks, ideally every 2 to 3 hours. This should be done to allow your dog to stretch its legs, relieve itself, or have a drink or meal if appropriate. Please ensure with your coach operator that your proposed itinerary has breaks factored in to it.

You should also consider where the coach may stop on a journey, as some coach parks, terminals and ports may not be suitable for independent mobility with your dog. This may also mean, that there is no grass for dogs who need grass relief, or the movement of other vehicles may make mobility with and spending your dog hazardous.

For the comfort of your dog, you may also want to take a suitable bed, a bowl and small supply of water.

If you do need assistance on your journey, you are advised to establish with the coach operator what you can reasonably expect to get in terms of support from the driver or other on –board staff. Also, what support you may get when interchanging between vehicles at coach stations or at ports.

If you are likely to pick up a European coach service once you have arrived in main land Europe, it is advisable to find out what support and advice is available from the company undertaking the European leg of your journey. You won’t necessarily receive the same level of support or assistance in some European countries as is offered in the UK.