Are Dogs Allowed on Trains?
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Traveling by train with a dog will depend on the train company's specific rules, but also on the individual discretion of workers. While dogs are often allowed on trains, there are specific requirements for eligibility. There are some cases where the dog is not allowed to travel, based on both physical and behavioral restrictions. When we travel by car with a dog, we set the parameters and we don't have to worry about any other passengers that are not our own. With a train, the guidelines can be prohibitive in some cases, making travel difficult.
At AnimalWised, we ask are dogs allowed on trains? We look at what we need to consider when traveling by train with a dog and whether it is possible for us to take them on sleeper trains. We apply this to train lines in the US and the UK, as well as individual commuter services.
Are dogs allowed on trains in the US?
Unfortunately, there is no direct answer as to whether dogs are allowed on trains in the United States. The reason is that different train operators have different rules and guidelines. Moreover, the same train operator may have different services which have varying policies regarding pets on trains.
Each trainline will have their own restrictions, but they usually fall into one of the following categories:
- Carriers: if pets are allowed on the train, most train operators will require a passenger keeps their companion animal in a carrier. Not all carriers are the same and it will need to be one approved by the train company. For example, carrying a small dog in an open bag is usually not considered an appropriate carrier.
- Weight: there are usually restrictions on the weight of the animal. This is usually in combination with the carrier, so there will be a maximum weight restriction for both. On Amtrak trains, the maximum combined weight is usually 20 lb for dog and carrier.
- Fee: the fare for a human passenger does not usually include any companion animals. There will usually be a surcharge or fee for taking dogs on trains. You may also need to book an advanced ticket as some train operators will not allow you to take a dog on a train without prior arrangement.
- Journey: different states may have different legislature regarding animals on public trains. For this reason, you may not be able to take a dog for a whole journey as a passenger.
- Seat: dogs do not usually occupy a seat and may have to be kept in another part of the train during the journey.
The policies of different train companies may also change over time. You will need to check with them before every journey and never assume the dog will be allowed to travel on the train.
Are dogs allowed on trains in the UK?
Generally speaking, there are less restrictions for dogs in the United Kingdom when traveling on trains. Most train operators will allow dogs with passengers. This is partly because the infrastructure of British travel is more reliant on rail than in the United States. Travelers are more reliant on the automotive and aviation industries for longer journeys in the latter.
Another important difference is that there is usually no fee for taking dogs on trains in the United Kingdom. This is often set at a limit for 2 dogs per person, but this may vary according to the size of the animals. Generally speaking, as long as the animal does not interfere with the journeys of other passengers, the dogs will be accepted on the train.
However, this does not mean there are no restrictions or considerations when traveling with a dog by train in the United Kingdom. We will need to consider the following:
- Advance reservations: most train operators require you to make a reservation for your dog, even if there is no additional charge. This is to ensure that there is enough space available for pets on the train. This does not usually apply for shorter distances.
- Pet carriers: dogs are usually required to travel in an enclosed carrier or crate for the duration of the journey. The carrier should be secure and provide enough space for your dog to stand, turn around and lie down comfortably.
- Muzzles: some train operators may require dogs to wear a muzzle during the journey, especially if your dog is of a larger breed or considered potentially dangerous.
- Off-peak travel: there may be restrictions on when you can travel with your dog. Some train operators only allow dogs during off-peak hours, which are typically outside of busy commuting times.
- Hygiene and behavior: your dog should be well-behaved and under control at all times. It's essential to clean up after your dog if they have any accidents during the journey.
- Assistance dogs: guide dogs, hearing dogs and other assistance dogs trained to help people with disabilities are usually allowed on trains without any additional restrictions.
Although most train operators in the UK allow dogs on their trains, there may be some routes or specific services that have different rules. It is best to check the pet policy of the specific train company and make necessary reservations in advance to ensure a smooth and comfortable journey for you and your dog. This is especially the case for cross-country journeys.
Are dogs allowed on sleeper trains?
We have already explained the restrictions for dogs on trains, but sleeper trains often have a different set of guidelines. Sleeper trains are often more restrictive than for shorter journeys.
Can dogs travel on sleeper trains in the US?
The primary long-distance train service in the US is Amtrak. This company offers several long-distance routes, including some overnight sleeper train services. As for other routes, Amtrak has specific pet policies. Unfortunately, pets, including dogs, are not allowed on Amtrak's sleeper trains with the exception of service animals.
Here's a summary of Amtrak's pet policy for sleeper trains:
Pet policy: Amtrak only allows service animals on board its trains. Other pets, including dogs, are not permitted, except for certified service animals assisting passengers with disabilities. The cutoff is usually train journeys lasting over 7 hours. This may differ if the dog is an emotional support animal.
Amtrak's pet policy is consistent across all of its long-distance trains, including sleeper trains like the Coast Starlight, Crescent, Silver Meteor, and others. While Amtrak does allow small pets in carriers on some of its regional trains, such as the Northeast Regional, pets are not allowed on the overnight sleeper services.
Can dogs travel on sleeper trains in the UK?
In the United Kingdom, dogs are generally allowed on some sleeper train services, but the specific policies may vary depending on the train operator and the type of sleeper train. Here are some general guidelines regarding dogs on sleeper trains:
The Caledonian Sleeper is an overnight train service that connects London with various destinations in Scotland, including Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, and Aberdeen.
Pet policy: the Caledonian Sleeper allows dogs to travel on its trains. However, there are certain restrictions and guidelines that you need to follow.
- Dogs are only allowed in designated dog-friendly sleeper cabins.
- Advance reservations for the dog-friendly sleeper cabins are required, as there is limited availability.
- There is a pet fee for bringing your dog on board.
Night Riviera Sleeper (Great Western Railway)
The Night Riviera Sleeper is an overnight train service that connects London with Penzance in Cornwall.
Pet policy: small dogs and cats are allowed in carriers on the Night Riviera Sleeper. There is no additional fee, but you need to reserve a space for your pet in advance.
It's important to note that while some sleeper train services in the UK allow dogs, other operators may have different policies, and not all sleeper trains are pet-friendly. Additionally, pet policies can change over time, so it's crucial to check the specific pet policy of the sleeper train service you plan to use before making your reservations.
Recommendations for traveling with dogs by train
Depending on the characteristics of the trip and the dog itself, in addition to complying with current regulations, we can take into account a series of tips that can help make the trip a positive experience or, at least, bearable for the animal. If you are wondering how to travel with your dog by train, we highlight the following recommendations:
- Take a blanket and/or their favorite toy: this is as long as it doesn't make a noise that could disturb other travelers).
- Take a long walk before getting on the train: this way, we can help the dog to be as relaxed as possible and they can relieve themselves before getting on to the train.
- Avoid feeding three hours before the trip: this will reduce the risk of vomiting or bowel movements if they gets dizzy or nervous. It was also mean their food has been appropriately digested beforehand.
- Do not offer food on the train: only water if absolutely necessary.
- Do not travel if the dog shows any signs of illness: this will not only be bad for other passengers, it can cause the dog serious harm and upset.
Ideally, we should get the dog used to the train as soon as possible. We can short and calm journeys. You can take medication with you to calm the dog down if necessary. This is only if the dog is particularly nervous on journeys and if the veterinarian has prescribed the medication.
Learn how to accustom your dog with a travel carrier in our related guide.
List of guidelines for commuter trains in the United States
We have already given the general guidelines for allowing dogs on trains in the United States. However, different cities have their own commuter trains which can have differing sets of guidelines. Here are the pet policies of some of the biggest commuter train services in the US:
Metra (Chicago, IL)
Small pets in enclosed carriers are allowed on Metra trains during off-peak hours. There is no additional fee for pets.
New Jersey Transit (NJ Transit)
Small pets in enclosed carriers are allowed on NJ Transit trains, light rail, and buses. There is no additional fee for pets.
SEPTA (Philadelphia, PA)
Small pets in enclosed carriers are allowed on SEPTA trains, trolleys, and buses. There is no additional fee for pets.
BART (San Francisco, CA)
Small pets in carriers are allowed on BART trains during non-peak hours. There is no additional fee for pets.
MTA Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad (NY Transit)
Small pets in enclosed carriers are allowed on LIRR and MNR trains. There is no additional fee for pets.
Please note that these are just a few examples. There may be other regional or local train operators in various parts of the country with their own pet policies. Each train operator may have specific guidelines regarding pet size, carriers, fees (if any) and travel restrictions, so it's crucial to check with the specific train operator before planning your trip with a dog or any other pet.
Now you know whether dogs can travel by train, you may want to take a look at our related article on traveling with your pet by plane.
If you want to read similar articles to Are Dogs Allowed on Trains?, we recommend you visit our Traveling with animals category.
1. National Rail (n.d.) Train Travel with Pets. Retrieved from:
2. Amtrak. (n.d.) All Aboard, Pets.