amtrak train

If your dog loves to be your travel companion, you may be wondering if they can accompany you on the train. Dogs are allowed on Amtrak, but under limited conditions. If you’re going on a short trip with one small dog under 20 lbs., Amtrak may be a good option. Otherwise, you’ll have to plan a road trip or book a flight.  Continue reading to learn more about taking dogs on Amtrak trains.

What Dogs Are Allowed on Amtrak?

Dogs and cats are able to ride the rails, but only under very specific criteria that will unfortunately disqualify most pets. To be able to go with you, your dog must be:

  • Under 20 lbs. (including the weight of the carrier)
  • Coach class only
  • In a carrier at all times
  • Non-disruptive (no distracting behavior or smells)
  • At least 8 weeks old and up-to-date on vaccinations
  • On a trip that’s seven hours or shorter, including transfer times between trains

Additionally, Amtrak only allows one pet per customer, requires you to make the reservation in advance due to limited pet allocations and charges a $26 fee. Of course, service animals don’t count as pets, and they are always welcome aboard. 

dog inside pet carrier
Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Alternative Travel Options

If Amtrak won’t work for you, there are other ways to travel with your pup. The best choice depends on their breed, health, and temperament. Road tripping is typically the least stressful travel option, but it will require extra travel time to allow for frequent stops.

Why Flying May or May Not Be a Good Option for Your Dog

In the last few years, U.S. Airlines have implemented certain breed restrictions to not allow Brachycephalic breeds to fly. These dogs have short noses and can’t breathe as well as other dogs. Some examples include Boston Terriers, Pugs, American Staffordshire Terriers, and Shih Tzus. Because flying is a stressful experience, airlines consider these dogs high-risk and most have banned them.

Flying is also not recommended for senior dogs or dogs in poor health. Most airlines require a certificate of health from a veterinarian dated within 10 days of the flight. All airlines require the dogs to be at least 8 weeks old and weaned.

The rules on flying aren’t very uniform and depend largely on the particular airline. While there aren’t as many restrictions as Amtrak, it’s a lot of work to fly with a dog (if they’re allowed) and there’s always an extra fee that’s usually at least $100 each way.

How to Road Trip With a Dog

The most versatile and cheapest travel option is to road trip with your pup. If you decide to do this, just make sure you budget extra time for frequent stops because your doggy will need to take a break every couple of hours. Here are some tips to make your trip a breeze:

  1. Pack their water in a sealable container so it doesn’t spill. Offer a few sips every time you stop, and seal it before you hit the road.
  2. Limit their food starting about six hours before the drive—especially if they’re prone to carsickness.
  3. Stock up on plastic grocery bags in the weeks before you go. These are useful for picking up poop or throwing away trash.
  4. Always carry paper towels for potty accidents.
  5. Keep a fabric towel in your car in case your travel stop is unexpectedly muddy.
  6. Buy them a safe, long-lasting chew like an elk antler to keep them occupied during the drive.
  7. Make a list of dog-friendly stops along your route. Rest areas usually have areas designed for dogs and some locations of Love’s Travel Stops have a fenced dog park.


We know your dog would follow you anywhere. Thankfully, there are options that make it possible to travel the country with your pup. If your dog is under 20 lbs. and in good health, they can usually ride Amtrak, fly on major airlines, or take any other choice that’s best for them. However, if your dog is a restricted breed, a bigger dog, not in the best health, or tends to be nervous, consider taking them on a road trip instead.

Featured Image Credit: 70154, Pixabay