As members of the public cast their votes in the UK general election tomorrow, much attention on social media will no doubt focus on the popular hashtag and internet meme #DogsAtPollingStations.
This first emerged during the 2015 election and typically features photographs of pets pictured waiting for their owners, while they cast their votes. On Instagram, there are more than 52.5k posts attached to the hashtag, while it has also already begun trending in the UK on X (formerly known as Twitter) during the build-up.
For those planning to have their dog accompany them to the polling station on Thursday, Carolyn Menteith, Behaviorist at, has shared some insight on how to avoid any unwanted behaviour or issues occurring – as well as how to keep your dog occupied – as you queue up to vote:
Ensure you pack plenty of snacks and water 
Depending on the time of day you and your dog will be visiting your local polling station, it’s wise to expect that there may be a significant wait.
Whether you are planning to vote before heading to the office, during your lunch break, or at the end of the working day – ensure that you bring plenty of snacks, treats, and water for your dog. This will keep them hydrated and sustained during the voting process.
If Thursday proves to be a hot or warm day in your local area, consider bringing wet food or frozen treats with you to the polling station, to help lower your dog’s body temperature and provide relief from the heat.
Vote alongside a friend/family member your dog is familiar with
Not all dogs are social by nature, and a large crowd of people at a polling station – especially if you live in a busy city or town – may become overwhelming for them.
Consider visiting the polling station with a friend, family member, or neighbour with whom your dog is already familiar with. This will ensure they remain calm during your absence, and that they can be safely removed from any particularly stressful situations that arise from unwanted attention from fellow voters or passers-by.
Voting alongside another person who can wait with your dog will also avoid the need to tie them up outside the busy station and cause them any unnecessary stress.
Check ahead of voting how long the queues are likely to be 
Media coverage leading up to the election means the chances are that polling stations may be much busier than during previous voting periods.
Therefore, if you’re planning to have your dog accompany you to vote, it’s worth checking in with others who have voted to understand how long queues are likely to be during busier periods of the day. You could also plan to visit first thing in the morning when the polls open at 7am, or towards the end of the evening before they close at 10pm.
Prepare yourself for other dogs to be present at the polling stations 
Due to the popularity of the hashtag #DogsAtPollingStations here in the UK, you should prepare yourself for the fact that other voters will also be taking their dogs with them to the polling station, to capture photos to share across their social platforms.
If your dog is prone to becoming nervous or anxious around other dogs, consider taking them for a long walk before heading to your local polling station. Exercise is as much of a mood-booster for pets as it is for humans. Burning off your dog’s energy can help to reduce the likelihood that they’ll become wound up or hypersensitive to other dogs present in their vicinity.