I’ve written a lot about moving to London with an accompanying spouse and/or children, but many expats make the relocation to London with another loved one in tow: their pets. As I do not own a pet myself, I had the pleasure of picking a friend’s brain about her experience owning a dog in London. Like me, she relocated to the UK from the US with her husband, and in getting settled into this city, it was just as imperative that their dog felt at home. Here’s a few of her pet pearls of wisdom:
How pet-friendly is London? London is AWESOME for dogs in general. They can go to most pubs and many parks are leash free. Even many of the restaurants and shops are much more open to having pets in their establishments than in the US, so while it’s always good to ask beforehand, don’t be shy about bringing your dog with you when you head out and about. Our dog has shopped for furniture and clothing with me on the odd day out and is never afraid to offer up his opinion when asked. I guess the thing that has struck me most about being in London with a dog is that the British seem to really LOVE their furry friends! I have met more people on the street, in shops, at the dry cleaners, etc. with our dog in hand as people are always wanting to know about and love on the old boy. Are pets even allowed on London’s public transport? Yes, pets are allowed on the tube and buses—though some tube stations only have escalators (no stairs). If your dog is too heavy to pick up for the ride on the escalator, be sure you educate yourself about which stations have stairs and which do not so you can adapt your trip accordingly. Black cabs will take dogs if the driver allows it. Those that don’t will usually pass you by when they see you with your dog. When a driver does pull over for you and your pet, make sure you ask before you get in and all should be fine.
A lot of expats relocating to London do so for the experience of travel. How do you manage this with a pet? England itself has everything a dog and his owners could ask for—from trips to the beach, to lovely country walks amongst the sheep, to hikes in the hills of Scotland and Northern England. Many hotels take dogs for a small surcharge (usually £10-20 extra), so don’t hesitate to bring your dog along. For those heading to mainland Europe with a dog, no worries—just make sure your vet has provided and stamped a pet passport for you and follow the instructions for re-entering Britain. Travelling in Europe with a pet is quite easy, and the entry back to the UK is a breeze if you follow DEFRA guidelines to getting back in. Well, I for one am impressed with the UK’s pet-friendliness, and I hope this gives you pet owners some peace of mind if you’re debating whether to relocate with a dog. My friend has more to share with us about a pet’s quality of life after the London move, including grooming, walking, and veterinary care. So check back in with us here at the blog, and, if you have any logistical questions about pet relocation, please do get in touch with one of our London Relocation agents!