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Does Amtrak Allow Dogs? (Is Amtrak Dog-Friendly?)

If you’re taking a trip by Amtrak instead of by car or plane and you want to take your pet along with you, then you first need to find out if it is allowed.

I have good news for you if you have a small dog.

Yes, dogs are allowed on most Amtrak routes, provided that it is a small dog.

This is great news for people who don’t want to leave their dogs at home or in a doggie hotel.

Keep reading to learn more about taking dogs on Amtrak trains.

What’s The Official Pet Policy For Amtrak Trains?

amtrak trains
Charles Fulton, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Pet owners who want to travel with their dog (or cat) on an Amtrak train can rejoice because it is typically allowed.

Dogs and cats up to 20 pounds (combined weight of pet and carrier) are welcome on trips up to seven hours on most Amtrak routes (some restrictions apply).

There is an additional fee when bringing a pet on Amtrak.

Small dogs and cats travel on Amtrak for $26 or 800 Amtrak Guest Rewards points.

Here are the other pet policy requirements and regulation on Amtrak trains:

  • There’s a maximum of five pets per train (service animals do not count towards this limit), so you are encouraged to make your pet reservations in advance.
  • Reservations are limited to one pet per customer.
  • Pet fee is assessed for each travel segment.
  • Pets are permitted in Coach Class and Acela Business Class (pets are not allowed in Sleeping cars, non-Acela Business Class, food service cars or other accommodations).
  • Reservations with pets are limited to seven hours total travel time, including transfer time between trains on multiple-segment trips.
  • Pets cannot be booked with multi-ride tickets, Thruway Connection Services or with unaccompanied minors.
  • In the event of a service disruption, Amtrak will make reasonable efforts to seek (but cannot guarantee) pet-friendly hotel accommodations, if sheltering is necessary.
  • Your pet must be at least eight weeks old and be odorless, harmless, not disruptive and require no attention during travel.
  • Amtrak maintains the right to refuse acceptance, and may remove any pet exhibiting these issues from stations or trains.
  • You certify that your pet is up to date on all vaccinations and accept liability for your pet by signing the pet release document at check-in. Amtrak does not accept liability for the health and well-being of pets.
  • Service animals are not considered pets, and are welcome on all Amtrak services.

There are even some routes where the train has a designated Coach car just for pets.

Those routes are:

  • Amtrak Cascades
  • Carl Sandburg
  • Illinois Zephyr
  • Illini
  • Lincoln Service
  • Saluki
  • Pere Marquette
  • Wolverine
  • Blue Water
  • Hiawatha
  • Missouri River Runner

On other pet friendly routes, you and your pet may ride in any Coach car on the train.

Which Amtrak Routes Don’t Allow Dogs?

While most Amtrak routes and trains do allow small dogs and cats, there are a few routes that do not.

Be sure to check your route with the ones listed below to make certain that you can take your dog aboard your train.

Travel with pets in Canada not available on Adirondack, Maple Leaf and Amtrak Cascades; not available on Auto Train, Keystone Service, Pennsylvanian, San Joaquins, Capitol Corridor Pacific Surfliner or Thruway Connecting Services.

Amtrak Pet Carrier Requirements

Note that you cannot simply walk on with your dog on a leash or carrying your dog in your arms.

Pet owners must provide a pet carrier, which may be hard or soft sided but must be leak proof and well ventilated.

  • Maximum weight of pet with carrier is 20 pounds.
  • The maximum size for pet carriers is 19″ long x 14″ wide x 10.5″ high. 
  • For your pet’s comfort and safety, it must be able to sit, lie down and remain entirely inside without touching the sides of the carrier.
  • Your pet carrier counts as one piece of carry-on baggage.
  • Pets should remain entirely inside a closed carrier while in stations and onboard trains and must remain with you at all times; do not leave them alone.
  • Onboard, place your pet carrier under your seat (not under the seat in front of you), except on Amtrak Cascades trains where you can put your pet carrier on the floor in front of the seat next to you.

Click here to shop approved pet carriers at Chewy.

Amtrak Check-In Requirements For Pets

When traveling with a pet on Amtrak, you do have some additional requirements for check-in.

You cannot simply board the train as usual.

  • To confirm pet eligibility, you should read and sign a Pet Release and Indemnification Agreement for each travel segment. 
  • At staffed stations, check in at the ticket office no later than 30 minutes before departure to complete the pet release paperwork.
  • At unstaffed stations, the conductor will confirm pet eligibility and provide you with the document to sign.

How Strict Is Amtrak Pet Policy?

The Amtrak pet policy is very strict, so do not think that you can sneak on your dog to get around paying the pet travel fee.

Also do not try to bring a dog that is larger than the weight limit requirements because you can be denied boarding.

They will not weigh your dog or measure the dimensions of your pet carrier, so if you are slightly over then it will likely be fine.

However, it needs to pass the visual inspection and there is ALWAYS the risk that an Amtrak employee will measure the carrier and weigh the dog.

So, it’s better to be safe than sorry because you do not want to be refused boarding with your pet.

Final Word

As you can see, it is relatively easy to travel by train on Amtrak with your dog – as long as it is a small dog.

The fee to take your dog on Amtrak is relatively cheap, as well.

Just be sure to book your ticket well in advance since only 5 pets are allowed on the entire train.

And keep in mind that while most routes do allow dogs, not all routes do.

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National Canine Research Association of America