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Are Dogs Allowed on Amtrak?

Are Dogs Allowed on Amtrak?

The question we intend to look at here is a straightforward one to understand, are dogs allowed on Amtrak?

As with anything else, knowing in advance if you should become aware of an issue regarding admittance with your dog makes sense.

After all, you do not want to get somewhere only to find out your dog is not allowed. It just makes life a whole lot harder.

So, in this instance, we will focus on just one part of life, and that is Amtrak.

Now, Amtrak clearly gives you the ability to move around to different parts of the country, so knowing if your dog can accompany you makes a lot of sense.

So, what do they say about your dog?

The Answer

To answer, we can go to the Amtrak website itself as our source for information. When you get there, you do find a bit of a mixed explanation as to the rules and regulations regarding pets in general.

Basically, small dogs up to a weight of 20 pounds can travel on Amtrak, but while this may sound like good news, it’s still not as clear a picture as you would think.

But we will work through every aspect to provide you with a clear picture of what will happen should you wish to take your dog on Amtrak.

After all, we want you to feel relaxed about taking your dog, and also how to deal with any possible problems that you could come across.

The good news is that Amtrak does view itself as a dog-friendly company, and that makes life so much easier for anybody wishing to move around with their dog.

However, they do have their own rules and regulations to follow, but we will also tell you all about them later.

Size Limitations

Amtrak states that dogs up to a maximum size of 20 pounds can travel on their network. However, even that comes with its own limits.

First, if your dog does come under that weight limit, then you do have a fee to pay to allow them to travel. This fee does change, so there’s no point in putting it here as it could be different by the time you read it.

Alternatively, if you have built up reward points, you can use them to help cover the cost of having your dog travel with you.

Once again, the number of points could vary, but this information is readily available from Amtrak itself.

Some people do think that 20 pounds are not enough, but that’s not actually the case. However, it does mean most people can then travel without large dogs effectively taking up too much space.

Also, as you will find out later, Amtrak does request people travel with their dogs in pet carriers, so there needs to be limited thanks to that single factor. 

Distance Limitations

But Amtrak also puts some limitations on the distance you can travel with your pet. They limit this to a total time journey of some seven hours, but even with this, they do include several restrictions for pet owners to know about.

However, even with a total of seven hours, it does mean you have the opportunity to travel a reasonable distance with Amtrak. It does make getting around with your dog that bit easier.

But more on those limitations and restrictions.

The limitations have a tendency to have links to certain locations. That does mean you cannot travel on certain routes into Canada with your dog in tow. But that’s not all.

It also extends to certain services. This includes Auto Train, Pennsylvanian, Capitol Corridor Pacific Surfliner, San Joaquins, and Thruway Connecting Services.

So even though that does come across as an impressive list, it does still provide you with ample opportunity to travel with your dog beside you. 

dog in carrier

Additional Rules

Any dog cannot travel on Amtrak if they are younger than eight weeks old. However, that is not the only rule to know about.

Amtrak also states that your dog must be odorless. They certainly do not want any smelly dogs to then upset other people using Amtrak. 

Also, your dog must require no attention during the trip. Basically, they need to behave perfectly and to not disrupt anybody else that surrounds them. 

In addition, by taking your dog onboard Amtrak, you also state their vaccinations are going to be up to date, and you then assume liability for this. 

Do keep in mind that Amtrak has the option of refusing you permission to travel if their employees believe that your dog does not show the type of behavior they expect.

So, you could find that your idea of getting from A to B may come to an end before you even leave.

But overall, Amtrak does not have too many rules for you to follow when it comes to your dog. However, they do enforce them at all times, so keep that in mind.

Checking In With Your Dog

When it comes to checking in with your dog, then they advise you to do so at least 30 minutes before departure time. Also, you do need to sign their Pet Release and Indemnification Agreement to ensure eligibility for your dog.

If the station has a ticket office, then the office will confirm the eligibility. However, if there is no ticket office, then the conductor will confirm eligibility.

Also, they provide you with the documentation for you to sign.

dog going on amtrak

Pet Carriers

In order to travel with your dog, you should have your dog in a pet carrier. However, they do also have certain rules as to the types of pet carriers they expect you to have.

First, the pet carrier can be either hard or soft-sided. However, it must be leak-proof and also provide your dog with ample ventilation.

They do also have a maximum size for the pet carrier, and this is listed as 19” long by 14” wide and 10.5” high. 

But to show how Amtrak takes the health and safety of your dog seriously, they do also state on their website how your dog must have no problem moving around in the pet carrier.

In other words, it must be big enough to allow them to sit, lie down, and turn around without struggling to do so.

If they can do this, then Amtrak has no problem with your dog appearing on their network. 

Being at the Station

Your dog must remain in its carrier all the time they are in the station or in any location linked to Amtrak. Also, you cannot leave them alone for any time, no matter how short a time it may be.

When on the train, you should place the pet carrier below your own seat. Do note that the pet carrier cannot end up below the seat in front of you. 

But we do also have one other additional fact about Amtrak that could be important for you. On some routes, they have a coach dedicated to people with their pets. 

This does make a difference as it feels as if you have less stress associated with having your pet with you. However, with all of the other routes designated as pet friendly, you can use any coach.

What you can see is that Amtrak does try its best to make the journey as easy as possible for both you and your dog.

However, they do expect a certain type of behavior and for your dog to not pose any problems for anybody else on the train. 

These rules apply from the moment you arrive at the station until the moment you leave. As long as your dog does meet the rules, then you should have no issues.

Overall Conclusion

You can take your dog on Amtrak, but only up to a total of 20 pounds, and then there’s a cost involved in taking them on Amtrak.

Also, you cannot take them on Amtrak in certain parts of Canada. That does mean you need to check your destination does not mean you run into any issues when you get there.

Amtrak is, to a certain extent, pet-friendly, but they do have limitations. Be aware of those rules and laws before you travel.

If in any doubt, do contact Amtrak directly, and they can provide complete advice on what to do, and whether or not your dog can indeed travel on their network.

Amtrak tries to make life as easy as possible when it comes to helping you travel with your dog.

They also want to ensure your dog is safe and comfortable, and that is why they stress the need for the pet carrier to be large enough for your dog to move around.

As soon as you tell Amtrak you wish to travel with your dog, then they are there to help. Just make sure your journey is capable of going off without any problems before you leave.

If you have any questions, then Amtrak will help and don’t be afraid to reach out to them.

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