What is life like with a large dog in central London?
October 27, 2021 3:04 PM   Subscribe

What are the pros and cons of bringing a 2yo male neutered golden retriever, to live for January through May in a flat just west of Paddington station, with hybrid work hours, some travel within what's left of the UK, some theatre-going and restaurant dining?

Job is paying for a nice flat in an area we might not have picked, but the landlord has consented to our well-behaved but puppy-ish dog. Combination of teaching in person and flexible work-from home admin. As USians, we're excited by the thought that much more of urban life and transport is dog-friendly in London than here, but is that really true? What downsides are we missing? What are great dog tips in London? (If you've recently flown from US to UK with a large dog, we would be interested in your experience, but maybe that's a different question).
(Some of the places-to-go listed in this old question still seem relevant.)
posted by Mngo to Travel & Transportation around London, England (9 answers total)
I didn't have a dog when I lived in London, but while your flat may be small, my experience is that London is a walking city with lots of parks. I lived in Clapham, where there were many parks. I'm not sure about the situation around Paddington Station. Central London perhaps a bit more challenging but i think it's very possible?

You should check out animal airport on Netflix if you want to know what the procedure of getting a pet into England is like.
posted by pazazygeek at 3:13 PM on October 27, 2021 [1 favorite]

Paddington is walking distant to both Hyde Park and Regents Park, so providing the flat is big enough to accomodate the dog you will be absolutely fine for walks. Paddington train station will also take you all sorts of places in the direction of Gloucester and the Cotswolds which are ideal for long walks in the country. Dogs are a part of everyday life in London on busses, tubes, trains.
posted by mani at 1:47 AM on October 28, 2021 [1 favorite]

The thing about dogs & the Tube is that they are not allowed to stand on the escalators, which means you have to pick them up and carry them. That could be why I've never seen a big dog on the Tube in the years I've lived here. I have seen larger dogs on trains and definitely on the Overground, but not on buses, where it's up to the discretion of the driver to let them on. As for dogs in the big tourist attractions like Trafalgar Square etc, that's going to depend on your dog - as you know London gets intensely crowded, so if your dog likes erratic & aggressive pedestrians on narrow sidewalks, great. In terms of dining, pubs + dogs can be an excellent match, and outside tables + dogs are too, but I've not seen dogs inside fancier restaurants and I've never seen a dog in a theatre or in a museum. I love dogs! Definitely not trying to be discouraging, but I don't think London is a dog paradise, except for the parks. The parks are great. As for flying into the UK, unless it's changed recently, you can't have your pet travel with you in the airline cabin, they have to fly in the luggage compartment.
posted by not_that_lilibet at 7:55 AM on October 28, 2021 [1 favorite]

Not London specific, but my dog lives between a lovely farm situation where he can roam freely and a third floor flat, and he very clearly likes both equally. The farm offers freedom and unlimited outdoor time, but the city offers thousands of interesting new smells, and snacks if he can manage to scoff them before I drag him away.
I don't bring him on the Metro (our Tube), and I take him for walks in the parks or on back streets at night when they are not crowded.
posted by mumimor at 12:05 PM on October 28, 2021

For the last six years we've had a large, energetic lab in south London. Echoing not_that_lilibet, I've never had a problem taking him on London buses and overground trains (avoid rush hour), but the deeper tube lines are a no-no for larger dogs. 'Oh, I can carry my dog on an escalator' but tube escalators can be really long. The Circle, District and Hammersmith & City lines (all of which run through Paddington) are shallow and shouldn't be a problem.

While pubs and some coffee bars are generally (well-behaved) dog-friendly, most shops, restaurants and other indoor spaces aren't.

As a massive generalisation, Londoners like dogs. The city has a lot of parks, squares and green spaces, and dogs on leads will be fine. Be sure to pick up your dog's poo: if you don't Westminster (where Paddington is) has fines up to £1000.
posted by Hogshead at 12:42 PM on October 28, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I have friends with dogs in London, but not as big as a golden retriever. They take their dogs to lots of places.

It might not be obvious, but lots of parks in London allow dogs to be off leash in most areas (usually not in children's play areas or bowling greens and so on). For example, near Paddington most of Hyde Park is open to dogs off leash, with a few areas restricted to on leash only, and a few areas not allowing dogs at all.

There are cafes and pubs that will allow dogs inside on a leash. If your dog is calm and good with people, this can be useful.

For the Tube, this reddit thread has information and links about which stations don't have escalators.
posted by plonkee at 4:15 PM on October 28, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If you ask, the staff on the tube will take you to the lift with a large dog. I never realised this until someone offered. (Obviously don’t take the mickey during rush hour)

I wouldn’t personally have a large young active dog permanently in London but people do. In the right environment with the right dog it’s fine. Jan to may seems like no problem. You will need to work out a place to clean paws outside as London is pretty grubby in winter. A coat is useful to keep them dry for your apartment’s sake.

I’ve had a dog that size temporarily but very regularly in central London(up to a month, once or twice a year) .it’s a social place for dogs and they can have a good life there. The parks are really good for walks (Hampstead Heath is our regular weekend treat) and you can take them to a lot of pubs and cafes. A reliable sitter that the dog gets on with is a big help. Apartment living means they must be ok to be left for a bit as any barking is a real pain and if they can’t be reliably alone for the evening it is a considerable whack of money on top of your dinner or theatre tickets.
I also think that having a dog introduces you to a very nice side of London. Most people love dogs and it’s a quick way to meet people.

Finally I note that Dog Tax has not been paid in this post!!! :)
posted by tardigrade at 12:27 PM on October 29, 2021

Just to add, I have a big dog (35 kilos) and though it’s true that on buses it’s at the discretion of the driver in theory, I think this is mainly so they have some backup if someone brings a nightmare dog on. No-one’s ever said a word to me and I’ve gone all over London with her on buses, she adores them, especially the top deck.
You’ll almost certainly be able to find local Facebook dog groups. Regent’s Park especially must have one. It’s great for dogs.
posted by tardigrade at 12:35 PM on October 29, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: UPDATE: The pup's not going, sadly. He'll have a great stay with a close friend, but the cost plus logistics plus uncertainty of the trip is just too much. More London askme's to follow. And apologies for late payment of Dog Tax (with his beloved duck and kitties). Thanks all.
posted by Mngo at 3:20 PM on December 4, 2021

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