I have worked hard to train my dog to walk with me politely in most places (he is two and has been attending weekly obedience training for 18 months), but never on public transport.
I would only rarely need to use public transport because I have my own car, but for instance, I’d love to be able to catch a bus with my dog on weekends and take him into the city.
For larger dogs (that aren’t carried in bags etc) perhaps there could be an examination day, where dogs catch a bus and a train, and are watched, and as long as they don’t cause a problem they gain a ‘travel licence’ or similar.
I have seen guide dogs for the blind crawl under the bus seats so that the dog is out of the way. I would need to train my dog before he was able to do this. Perhaps the testing day could also have some public transport furniture so that we could train our animals to be as non-invasive as possible.
I am worried about there being a single carriage for animals. I don’t think the numbers travelling with animals will be huge. In situations where there more than one dog is travelling on a train, placing them all in the same carriage is inviting problems. My dog is most unreliable where he meets another dog – he wants to greet it, mark territory and other typical dog behaviours. I can manage this by sheer force, but the easiest thing to do is to place greater distance between the dogs. Not to get onto the same carriage, or to sit upstairs when the other dog is downstairs.
Many RTA workers (and others in our community) come from countries where dogs are not kept as pets . Perhaps we dog owners could offer to work with our well behaved dogs and these people to show them how we expect dogs to behave in situations on public transport so they feel less threatened about managing dogs and dog owners on public transport.
Furthermore, those with perfectly trained dogs may forget that many well trained dogs are not perfect in all circumstances. Pretending anything else is probably inviting any progress to be undone by people naively presenting the training of large dogs for unfamiliar on-lead situations as totally routine. A better approach is to emphasise everyone’s willingness to work towards ensuring their dogs can travel on public transport without causing any problems.
Contributed by an owner of a gundog who lives in the northern suburbs of Sydney. The points mentioned are issues where discussion in invited, especially in our multi-cultural society.