From this month, pet dogs are now allowed onboard trams in Manchester for the first time since Metrolink’s launch back in 1992.
It’s part of a three-month pilot scheme, which runs until 31st October.
Each passenger is allowed to take up to two dogs on board for free, but they are liable for their pet’s behaviour, keeping them off the seats and cleaning up any mess they make.
For many of our four-legged friends this will be their first time on public transport, so how do you know if it’s right for them, and what should you bring with you?
Here, John Smith, dog expert and founder of Manchester-based personalised pet brand Yappy.com, has shared his top tips for taking the tram with your pet pooch.
“The first and most important thing to remember is that public transport is not for every dog; it can be a scary and stressful experience, so it’s best to consider your dog’s needs and welfare before travelling, after all you know them better than anyone else,” says John.
“There are some instances where you should absolutely avoid public transport with a pet, such as at peak rush hour, or when it’s particularly hot – use your ‘paw-renting’ instinct!
“Be considerate of others: not everyone is a dog lover, and some people may be scared of dogs or allergic to fur.
“It’s always best to check that someone is comfortable with dogs before you sit down next to them, public transport is for everyone after all.”
Signs your dog is anxious – and what to do
“It’s not unusual for a dog to be unsettled for their first trip on public transport, but it’s best to keep an eye out for signs they’re becoming uncomfortable.
If your dog shows any of the following signs, they could be feeling anxious: panting, shivering, pacing, barking, cowering, and excessive licking/chewing.
“It’s always best to leave a little earlier than you need to, so that if your dog shows any signs of being uncomfortable you have time to get off, give them a break and a short walk so they have time to calm down,” suggests John.
What to take with you
As with the majority of journeys with dogs, there are a few essentials you should take with you, advises John.
Water: public transport can be hot at all times of the year, so it’s always best to be prepared and take water and a portable bowl/something your dog can drink out of.
Treats: it’s always useful to have some treats with you, particularly if that is how your dog is trained. If your dog is well behaved, reward them! They’ll know to make good behaviour on public transport a habit, and they’ll get a treat in return.
Poo bags and wet wipes: as a dog owner you’ll know how important it is to stay stocked up. Even a well-trained dog might have a little accident if riding the tram for the first time, so it’s best to be prepared, as you (as always) are responsible for any mess your dog might leave.
Lead and collar: a short lead and good quality collar or harness are absolute essentials to give you both full control and keep your dog safe from slipping off the lead in an unfamiliar place.
Skills your dog should know before you go
Before you head off on an adventure with your pet pooch, there are a few commands they should know and respond to before you board, says John:
Sit: this will be the most beneficial to them, as standing for an entire journey might be uncomfortable for them (especially if you’re travelling from one end of Manchester to the other).
Settle: there are a lot of distractions on trams, so it’s best you know how to settle your dog and keep them close to you.
Leave: be mindful that people leave rubbish, leftover food and drinks and other objects that may harm your dog – scan the area you’re sitting in to ensure there’s nothing tasty and tempting nearby that may make your pooch ill.