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Traveling with your pet dog by train is one of the best and cheapest modes of transport for national travel. It’s safer, easier and less stress-inducing for both you and your dog than traveling by plane.
However, if you are planning on traveling with your pet for the first time, you may feel uncertain and unprepared for your trip together. When traveling by train, you will want to be sure of the railway rules and regulations regarding your dog.
Here, we will discuss the ins and outs of traveling with your pet dog by train, as well as a few tips and tricks to help you along your journey.
9 Things to Consider Before Traveling
1. Railway Rules and Requirements
Each railway has its own set of rules regarding pet travel. Things such as your dog’s breed, size, and weight will be taken into account. So be sure to check your railway to make sure it’s suitable for you and your dog before booking your ticket.
2. Dog Size
Your dog’s size and weight are important factors when traveling by train. Smaller dogs will be permitted to travel with you in a carrier. The total weight of your dog and carrier must weigh no more than 20 lbs (9kg).
Larger dogs, unless they are service dogs, will have to be put in a crate for transport. If you have a large dog and don’t want to put them inside a crate, you may have to consider another traveling option.
When you are on the train, you will want your dog on their best behavior. If your dog is too disruptive, they may ask you to leave so as to not annoy other passengers.
Before taking your trip, test to see how your dog fares when inside a carrier for long periods. Giving your dog carrier training and providing distractions such as chew toys should help your dog behave while traveling.
Rewarding them with treats now and then will also help to keep them quiet on your journey.
4. Your Dog’s Breed
Some dogs will not be permitted onboard a train due to their breed. Dogs that will not be considered eligible for travel include:
- German Shepherds
- Husky-type Breeds
- Bull Terriers
- American Pitbull Terriers
- American Staffordshire Terriers
- Staffordshire Bull Terriers
These dog breeds are considered to be aggressive and dangerous. For the sake of passenger safety, these breeds will not be allowed on trains for the safety of the general public.
5. Motion Sickness
Like cars, trains can cause motion sickness for your dog, making the trip uncomfortable and unpleasant for them. Be sure to take the necessary steps before traveling to ensure that they are comfortable and ready before traveling
Withholding food for twelve hours before the trip and providing your dogs with soft blankets and sufficient airflow will help ease your dog’s nausea. Make sure to withhold treats and to provide plenty of water for them as well to keep them hydrated.
If your dog struggles with motion sickness, consider consulting a vet for advice and a unique treatment plan for your dog.
6. Bathroom Breaks
If you plan on taking a long trip with your pet, you may find that they will soon be in need of a relief break. Ask your train operator about any scheduled stops you will be taking along the way and use them to let your dog relieve themselves.
However, as an extra precaution, be sure your dog’s carrier is safe from any leakage and prepare to have to clean it up at your final destination.
7. Know Your Nearest Vet
Regardless of how long or far you are traveling, try to locate a nearby vet when traveling in case of an emergency. If you are planning on long-distance travel, try to locate a nearby vet at every scheduled stop. Keep a list of locations and phone numbers just in case of emergency.
8. Health Documents
While some local train’s personnel may not ask to check your dog’s health documents, trains such as Amtrak services will want to see your pet’s documents to make sure that their vaccinations are up to date.
Most states will also require you to bring your dog’s Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI). This will just let them know your dog is clear from rabies and other infectious diseases.
In most instances, you will need to obtain it 30 days prior to your arrival, so check your destination State’s rules regarding your pet’s health documentation.
9. Pet ID
When traveling, especially on long trips and to unfamiliar places, you may want to have your pet microchipped to help track them, should they wander off and get lost.
Make sure they are also wearing a collar with your contact details at all times should they get lost on your journey.
Preparing Your Dog For Train Travel
If it’s your dog’s first time on a train, you will want them to be prepared for the new traveling experience. By taking the necessary steps, you can travel with them without any setbacks.
Train Your Dog For Travel
Before booking your tickets, be sure your dog is appropriately trained for the trip. Reinforcing previous training and giving them any necessary behavioral training will be important since the last thing you want is to be asked to leave because your dog is misbehaving.
Let Your Dog Interact With Other Dogs and People
When boarding a train, there are probably going to be a lot of other people or animals boarding as well. If your dog isn’t used to contact with other people or animals, it could become problematic.
If they get nervous around new people, they may be skittish and whine during the duration of your trip. And if your dog is likely to get excited and bark when they see or smell other dogs or cats, you may annoy other passengers on board.
Take your dog to your local park to interact with other people and dogs to give them as much exposure as possible. If they still misbehave or feel overwhelmed, make sure to implement the necessary discipline and reassurances to your dog.
Get Them Used to Loud and Busy Atmospheres
Trains and train stations usually have loud bustling atmospheres. And If your dog is used to calm and quiet spaces, they may end up overwhelmed or overly excited.
Before the trip, start to introduce your dog to loud and busy places, such as taking them for walks in high-traffic walk areas in town and other high-traffic public areas.
Visit a Train Station
Another way to help your dog adjust to the busy and noisy atmosphere is by taking them to a train station prior to the trip. By doing so they will become familiar with the space and will be calmer when the time comes to travel.
Take Them For a Short Test Ride
If you are planning on taking a long trip, consider taking a test ride before the actual trip. When you are on board, observe their behavior and how it develops during the ride. By the time you take your actual trip, you will know how they respond to train rides and know how to prepare for your journey and their individual needs.
Train travel isn’t the only way to test and prepare your dog before the trip. Car rides will have a similar effect on your dog that trains will.
Put them in a carrier and take them for a short trip. Observe their behavior and check for any signs of stress or motion sickness.
If your dog doesn’t travel more than once or twice a year in a vehicle, they are more likely to suffer from motion sickness due to the fact that they are not used to the stimuli of traveling in a moving vehicle.
Lastly, since your dog will be required to travel by carrier, making sure they have carrier training is important. If your dog isn’t used to being in carriers for long periods of time, they may end up becoming distressed.
Get them used to the carrier by putting their bedding and a few treats or toys inside. Encourage them to sleep inside their carrier. If you feel like they are now comfortable being in their carrier, start closing them inside their carrier in increasingly larger time periods and take note of their reactions and behavior.
If you feel like they are ready, start picking up the carrier and walking around to get them used to the sensation. Taking them on car trips inside their carrier as previously mentioned will help them adjust to the sensation of traveling inside the carrier.
11 Things to Bring When Traveling
- Harness or Collar
- Blanket or Jacket
- Dog Poop Bags
- Food, Treats, and Water
- Food and Water Bowls
- Vet Contact Details
- Certificate of Vet Inspection (CVI)
Other Frequently Asked Questions
Is It Stressful For Dogs to Travel By Train?
Like with any form of vehicle travel, some dogs may end up becoming anxious and stressed when traveling onboard a train.
Unfamiliar smells, sites, and sensations can quickly stress out your dog, or if your dog is afraid of loud noises or crowds. This can make for an uncomfortable trip for you and your dog, and you may have to reconsider taking the train.
Helping your dog stay calm and preparing them for the trip as instructed earlier can help your dog ease their anxiety. However, if this becomes a persistent problem, take them to your local vet for advice on treating your dog moving forward.
Which Trains Allow You to Bring Your Dog?
While some trains do not permit bringing along any pets, most railways will allow you to bring along your dog.
When choosing a train, always go over the pet-specific rules for each of them. The following are some of the trains that allow dogs onboard:
- Alaska Railroad
- California Metrolink
- Chicago CTA
- Denver RTD
- Florida Brightline
- Florida Tri-Rail
- Los Angeles Metro
- Metro-North Railroad
- Miami Metro Mover
- New York Subway
- Orlando Sunrail
- Phoenix Valley Metro Rail
- Salt Lake City TRAX
- San Diego Coaster
- San Francisco Muni
- South Shore Line
- Sun Link
Mainline routes that do not permit dogs on trains are the following:
- Auto Train
- Capitol Corridor
- Keystone Service
- Pacific Surfliner
- San Joaquins
As previously noted, each railway has their own rules regarding pet travel. So don’t forget to go over each train’s rules and regulations first.
Some trains such as San Francisco Muni allow dogs to travel outside their carrier so long as they are muzzled and leashed, however, most will require you to bring them in a carrier or a crate.
Does Amtrak Allow Dogs to Travel On Sleeper Cars?
Amtrak does not allow dogs to travel in sleeper cars or business class. When you are traveling with Amtrak, ask an attendant for seating assistance.
Traveling with your pet dog by train can be the perfect alternative choice of travel for you and your dog. It can be less stressful than flying and a cheaper option than even car travel. It can also be a safer and less stressful option for your dog.
By taking the appropriate steps, you and your dog will be prepared for the trip ahead, and can rest easy as you make your journey.