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TRAVELING BY TRAIN WITH YOUR DOG

Author: Deepti Rao

Author: Deepti Rao

Dog lover, certified trainer & behaviour consultant, and hooman to the smart ass Indie, Gaya.

Planning to take your dog on holiday with you? 

Taking the train could be an excellent option for your doggo. It’s convenient and comfortable, and definitely has more leg room than a car. Also, quite fun, if you’re into that kind of stuff!

The Indian Railways has been great for us, and we’ve managed to do about 26 train rides in the last 4 years, and all happy ones, so far. Pretty easy to navigate the process, couple of red flags I’ll warn you about. 

Read on for the rules, some tips and some lessons learnt over the last few years.

THE BASICS

1. Book your own ticket

You need to first book a 1st AC ticket, for the humans. Doing it online, you’ll definitely need an IRCTC ID (even if booking via another website) – so first, sign up.

If you’re traveling alone (not recommended if this is your first time but totally possible, more later) or are a pair of people – request “coupe”. 3 or 4 of you, and you’ll be fine with the automatically assigned Cabin. 

Try and book from where the train is starting. Where the chart is prepared basically. Ideally, not necessarily.

You’ll find the option to book a coupe here – I book my tickets via www.makemytrip.com :

 

THIS IS IMPORTANT, especially if you need the coupe. If you’re booking with an agent – let them know it’s crucial.

2. Get your dog's FIT TO TRAVEL CERTIFICATE

Get a “Fit To Travel” Certificate from your vet.

This is no biggie if your dog’s vaccinations are up to date. While you’re doing the paperwork, get a photocopy of your ID proof. 

The certificate from your vet is valid for 7 days. 

It looks something like this =>

3. OPTIONAL - SUBMIT REQUEST FOR COUPE

3 days prior to the journey, submit a request for coupe to the Reservation Officer, Indian Railways. This needs to be done at the station where the train starts from, where the chart will be prepared. 

Okay about this though – it’s optional. We’ve done it a couple of times, but we don’t do it anymore. 

This was necessary before the neat option of “berth preference” was made available online while booking your ticket.

If you’ve requested for coupe, the only reason you wouldn’t be assigned it is because there’s a VIP / Politician traveling.

Otherwise – two women who have booked together are highest on the preference list. Next in line are couples who book together. Then two men who book together.

Submitting a request for coupe does not change this.

But if you’d still like to play safe, this is what it would look like. Drop it off at the TC’s office of the station where the train will start its journey from, along with a copy of your ticket. 

4) ON THE DAY OF THE JOURNEY

QUICK CHECKLIST:

a. Fit to Travel Certificate + Copy to submit

b. A copy of your ID proof

c. A confirmed 1st AC ticket 

WHAT TIME TO REACH?

They say – 3 hours before journey. If you’re traveling the first time, you may need that long to figure everything out.

But there’s no one to report to or no security check or no anything really.

Here’s what actually happens:

4 hours before the journey, the chart is prepared – and you should get a text message with information on your allotted seat.

You’ll know if you got the coupe or not. If that’s what you wanted and you’ve got it – great. Nothing to worry about. You can get there little later also without stress. At the busiest hour of the biggest station in Mumbai – it took us about 45-50 minutes to get a ticket for our dog. Usually it takes ten minutes.

So we usually show up an hour or 75 minutes tops before departure, if it’s a station set up we are familiar with, to avoid the long waiting that can make Gaya quite restless. 

Times we got the dreaded message that we got assigned a cabin (we were two travelers)…. which happened twice – we run to the station and try and hunt the TC down to beg.

Both times there were VIP’s on the train, and the TC could not help us at all. We were at the mercy of passengers to either be okay with our dog, or switch with us. We got lucky both times. I wouldn’t expect a switch in the post-covid times.

5. HEAD TO THE LUGGAGE & CLOAK ROOM

As soon as you get to the station, head to the Luggage Counter. Your dog doesn’t have to join. 

I usually wait with Gaya outside, who loves smelling all the smells, while Joshua gets her ticket. 

Only twice they asked to see the dog…all other times Gaya didn’t have to enter the office even.

 

There’s a form to fill, and you have to submit a copy of your ID proof, and show the Fit to Travel Certificate. 

 

Like I said, it usually takes 10-15 minutes. On really busy days, it’s taken us about 45 minutes.

 

Quick tip: The luggage counter is usually at one end of the station, and there will be access from outside the station too. 

6) WHAT YOU'LL NEED ON THE TRAIN

Once you have your dog’s ticket, you’re ready to board the train. Hopefully it’s not a long wait before your train arrives.

CHECKLIST ON THE TRAIN for your dog:

1) A disposable bowl for food & water

2) A potty pad (important if you have a dog that may pee on the train, it’ll just leak everywhere with just newspaper otherwise)

3) Familiar bedding

4) Light meal

5) Collar with name tag and your number (best to keep on at all times when traveling)

Won't my dog get bored?

Well…depends on how long your train ride is.

The shorter, or overnight ones : train rides can be an experience in itself.

Looking out the window, 

Naps,

Short walks in the passage way,

Maybe a quick stretch of legs on platforms, on the longer stops.

And our puzzles can certainly help!

Keep them engaged with our sniff and puzzles, that are super fun and light weight to carry.
Simply hide a few treats in the puzzle, and let your dog sniff them all out to keep entertained, and mentally stimulated.

Give them a little bit of a mental workout to relax and get ready for that lovely train nap 🙂

And yup! 

I think I’ve covered everything. Few more pointers in the FAQs. Any additional questions – shoot a comment below!

And if you’ve traveled by train, we’d love to hear about your experiences too! Were your journeys as fun as ours? Did your dog have a good time? Tell us everything!

FAQ'S

If your dog is younger and needs to pee often, your best bet is having them go on a potty pad. You can follow the train schedule on the app RailYatram and figure the longer stops too…maybe they’d prefer toileting on a quick walk on the platform when the train makes it’s stops.

Carry your own.

Dehydrated food is a great option. We buy unsalted boiled eggs if we find them on the platform.

No new foods that could upset her stomach.

If your dog is finicky about where to pee and poop – avoid kibble & soupy foods. Keep it light.

You cannot.

Beyond choosing the “request coupe” option while booking your ticket, there isn’t too much else you can do. Especially if a VIP decides to take the same train as you. You could submit the “request for coupe” letter, but like I said – it has little bearing.

But couple of things you can keep in mind:

  1. We usually travel weekdays. Slightly less crowded than weekends, which means more possibility of being preferred for a coupe. We avoid peak seasons too.
  • We also check the train layout. RailYatri has this option – where you can see how many coupe’s are in that particular train. 

Worth a look. Trains with more than one coupe are preferred to those with just one. Not always accurate…but mostly.

And keep your fingers crossed.

Shucks, that’s tough.

Did you try begging the TC? A second and final reservation list is made 30 minutes prior to travel, so find the TC and work your magic.

Didn’t work? Pray that your co-passengers don’t mind your dog (and that your dog doesn’t mind them).

We’ve had to share a cabin just once…they were hesitant but agreed on the promise that any trouble, and we would sit out the rest of the time (Gaya was brilliant at ignoring them thankfully).

Or start working your begging skills. Or finding cabin co-passengers who are willing to switch. Look for the dog lovers. 

Very unlikely that in COVID times people will give up their coupe. But you can try.

If nothing worked – I’ve heard of cases where things got nasty and passengers threatened to complain and what not. Do what you must, but avoid the Dog Box. 

Deciding to not travel if you haven’t got the coupe is a real possibility.

I have, a couple of times. 

When booking the ticket – I booked my mom with me. Senior citizens get travel concessions, so it was more cost effective.

But more importantly – two women traveling together are high on the preference list for the coupe.

I had to tell the TC that she was a sudden no-show, and requested him to avoid re-assigning her berth.

He could, because it was off season I think. But if there was a heavy waitlist, he may not have. His discretion basically so work your magic properly.

I had help getting us on the train and booking her luggage ticket etc, and they were 12-14 hour over night journeys. Totally doable (but you know your dog best).

Yes, you can. A coupe is allowed two dogs. More than 2 dogs, you’re expected to be in a cabin. But you could get away with traveling with 3 dogs in a coupe if you’re lucky.

There very well could be.

It’s getting more and more common for hoomans to travel with their dogs, so you may just find yourself sharing a bogie with another family and dog.

Hope your dog is trained to not be too stressed by that. 

We’ve had other dogs a couple of times. Once, right next door. It was okay. Unless that dog barked, then we had a barking match. A quick walk (in the other direction from their cabin) helped reset and it was fine again.

Also – there will most likely be community dogs at the station. That’s their home, and they may or may not like your dog’s presence. 

 

Book 4 tickets. Request cabin. Hope that you can find a co-passenger who is comfortable with dogs.

Yup, also possible with the exact same procedure.

Question is – can your dog handle it?

We’ve done it often, but always during lean hours (where it’s less crowded).

MUST-HAVES ON TRAVELS WITH YOUR DOG

32 Responses

  1. We are 3 people. How do I book all 4 seats to get the entire cabin? We dont want any other passenger as our Golden Retriever is big. Journey will be 25 hrs.

    1. You’ll need to book a 4th person and claim a “no-show” for them.
      And request the TC to not re-assign their berth. It’s then at his discretion.

      1. How to claim a no-show for the 4th person. Is it necessary to inform the TC that the 4th person won’t be showing up?

        1. Most times, when they see the dog they mainly ask for their ticket. The last time I was traveling alone, the TC knocked, the dog barked, and he asked me to not open the door & just show him the ticket through the glass and left 😬
          The no-show conversation didn’t happen only.
          So basically – maybe you don’t mention it and he won’t even know. But I’m not sure what would happen if he specifically asked.

  2. Do I need to submit the Fitness certificate along with the letter to the Reservation officer, or the fitness certificate is only required on the day of Journey?

    1. Fit to travel certificate is to be submitted at the booking (luggage / parcel) office on the day of the journey, when you’re buying the ticket for the dog.

      1. If my train is next day early morning, do I need to go to parcel office a day before to buy ticket for my dog?

        1. They will not issue you your dog’s ticket till you have a confirmed seat allotted as per their chart prepared (which is 3 hours before departure)

    1. Hi so me and my husband travelling this 20th of August to hyderabad, actually our train will start from Mumbai and we will be boarding the train in pune, So my husband is going Ltt mumbai to drop a letter to reservation officer, so what are the documents should be submitted are throwing in a dropbox, if coupe will be not alloted TC will be not there in boarding station as the train starts from Mumbai, what is the next alternative, will you please suggest us,This is the first time we are boarding with our 7 months old golden retriever, getting tensed🙂, Hope all will be fine🤞🏻

      1. You need to submit the letter along with a copy of your ticket.
        Good luck on the coupe, hopefully it comes through.
        If you are not allotted a coupe – you could face two issues:
        1) They may not give you a dog ticket at the luggage counter. This entirely depends on the official at the station and how strict / knowledgable about the rules they are / availability status on the train.
        2) If you have no option but to share a cabin, you need the permission of your co-passengers in the cabin. So find them, and get their permission.
        Some TC’s insist on written permission from the other two passengers…some just talk it out.

        The Mumbai – Hyderabad trains (that’s a route I take a lot with my dog) are usually quite empty (1st AC at least) when not holiday / festive season, if that helps with some optimism though 🙂

  3. If the train starts 05am in the morning how can i take the dog 2-3 hours early to the parcel office. Is the parcel office even function that early in the morning

  4. i am a girl travelling on weekend n i booked two 1AC tickets for my self n will be travelling alone with my dog from delhi to mumbai. is it possible for me to get a coupe.

    1. Did you request for coupe when you were booking your ticket?
      If yes, then theres a good chance you get the coupe. There’s no way to be sure though, you’ll only find out when the chart is prepared.

  5. We are traveling to Goa with my 3 year old puggy, it will be our 1sr journey by train. The formalities which are for going are the same for coming back too. Or we could book champion’s return ticket in advance?

  6. Hi i need to travel with my pet on train from tirupati to hyderabad.
    1.Which trains are allowed?
    2. Is it possible to get the coupe same day ( travel date)
    3.if not get the coupe is any other option is there?

    1. Trains with 1st AC are allowed. Coupe works if there are 2 of you traveling, the cabin if there are 4 of you. You need to select coupe as your preference while booking. You can also submit a letter 3 days before departure. There is no official provision for asking for coupe on the travel date, and it’s taking a big chance.

  7. How old a dog have you or anyone you know travelled with?
    What are the risks of travelling with a senior dog first time?

    1. My dog is 5, but I do know dogs who are older who are very comfortable traveling.

      They are however quite used to it over the years…so it depends on how your dog copes with new experiences.

  8. We are 4 people travelling with 2 dogs. Do we need to book 8 tickets and get 2 coupes? One dog is a poodle the other a retriever.

    Thank you

  9. We are four passengers and one labra..we booked a cabin. After that should I take permission from chief reservation officer for traveling with dog or not.

    1. Not permission, but yes you will still to buy a ticket for your dog before boarding. Requirements for getting this ticket are detailed in the post!

  10. Recently I travelled with my 2 month old shihtzu puppy, neither did I get coupe (even after asking for it because some VIP was travelling) nor I was provided a ticket for my pup, stating that they can not provide a ticket if I have a cabin ticket for myself and on top TC fined me 1650 Inr for not travelling with a puppy ticket in cabin.

  11. Best Information than IRCTC but just wanted to clear that I have booked CNF 4 tickets to travel for my dog , do I need to SUBMIT REQUEST FOR CABIN .

  12. I am travelling alone with my 7 month old lab , from Indore to Kolkata. I have booked 1st AC n also given all the required documents for my pet 1day prior with an charge of rs 800
    Will it be fine?

    1. Best would be to book two tickets and request coupe – so you don’t have to worry about your Co-passengers permission to share the space with your dog.

      Also – there is no charge to be made the day prior- payment is only made at the parcel counter when booking your dogs ticket.

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