Many dog owners love the idea of bringing their pets with them everywhere. Traveling is no exception. It’s easy enough to pull off when driving with a dog, but shared transportation is a little tricky. Can dogs go on a train? What options do dog owners have when traveling by train?
Can Dogs Travel By Train?
Yes, more and more trains have become dog-friendly within the last decade. It’s become normal for a few pets to be on every train. People looking to travel with their pets must meet the specific rules set by each company to travel safely. That includes things such as staying under the weight limit, paying extra money, and sitting in specific areas.
Check out the top pet-friendly train rides in the U.S!
How Did Dogs Get The Right To Travel By Train?
Even a decade or two ago, very rarely were dogs seen on most trains. However, recent pushes by the general public led to a ruling in the United States that had dog lovers rejoicing.
In 2015, a United States bill announced that pets fitting certain size restrictions could ride with their owner for a fee. California Representative Jeff Denham, a dog owner himself, pushed the bill to help give more people an opportunity to travel with their dogs.
Not only does this help dog owners, but train companies have seen it as a positive as well. With planes, buses, and other forms of transportation relaxing the rules on small pets, trains needed to do the same or risk losing business.
What Restrictions Limit Dog Train Travel?
Dogs travel on a train all the time these days, but restrictions do apply. It’s important to know all of the restrictions before planning the next trip.
Size Restrictions for Dogs on a Train
Pets have to be 20 pounds or less on most trains. That means adult golden retrievers, Labrador retrievers, and more have to stay home. There might be a little more flexibility with trains consisting of larger cars, but most adhere to the 20-pound rule.
Instead of putting a distance as a restriction, time is what determines whether a dog can board or not. A seven-hour trip is the maximum amount of time for a dog on a train. The thought is that dogs will have a hard time not only sitting in a small carrier for longer than that, but holding themselves until they get an opportunity to take care of their business.
For longer trips, travelers need to plan accordingly and do it in a few legs. These breaks make sense for the dog, so it’s not too much of an inconvenience.
A pet on a train counts as a carry-on bag. There’s a fee that goes with it, but it also eats into the number of other bags a person can bring on their trip. Considering bags go up and up in cost, it’s a bit of a snowball effect.
Most trains have specific areas for dog owners. They might only be able to sit in one particular car. That usually restricts travelers from going in first class, business class, or a sleeping car.
There’s also usually a very strict limit on the number of dogs on any given train. That’s why it’s important to schedule as early as possible to not get shut out. Shorter trips seem to reach dog capacity first since it’s more convenient for owners to go on those rides without complications.
5 Tips for Preparing a Train Trip with a Dog
Before stepping foot on a train, preparing for a trip with a dog can be a huge difference maker. Instead of running the risk of being sent home, think of this as a checklist to be repaired.
1. Buy a Great Carrier
A great carrier gives owners an opportunity to treat their loved ones like royalty. Keep in mind that the dog carrier acts as a seat for them during the entire train ride. They won’t be able to come out of the carrier and roam around freely.
Try to find a carrier that fits neatly underneath a seat. It should be compact, while still giving the dog some room to move around. Every train is different, but the standard maximum size seems to be something around 19″ x 14″ x 10.5″.
Even well-trained dogs might get excited during a train ride and have an accident. For that reason, putting some type of liner down protects adds a strong layer of protection.
2. Visit the Veterinarian
Getting a check-up with a veterinarian before going on a trip makes sense. Trains will have travelers sign a release document that states they are vaccinated, healthy, and not aggressive. If there are any complications with the dog during the ride, and it’s initiated by the dog, it could put the owner in a tough situation.
3. Show Up Clean
No one likes sitting next to a smelly person on a train. The same can be said for a dog. Cleaning the dog before going on a train ride cuts down on potential complaints from other riders.
4. Arrive Early
Arriving early at the train station ensures that there’s enough time to handle all the little things that go with riding with a dog. That means filling out any last-minute paperwork, going through the documentation, and more.
In some cases, arriving early also gives people boarding a chance to get on first with their dog. Arrive too late, and it becomes more of a hassle to get situated.
5. Have Alternate Plans Available
Taking a dog on a trip can go in a lot of different ways. Some dogs are great at traveling, while others can never fully handle all the stimulation going on.
It’s recommended to always have an alternative plan ready to go if necessary. This could mean asking a friend to watch the dog. It could also mean looking into pet hotels that take last-minute reservations.
As much as people love bringing their dogs on a trip, sometimes it’s just not meant to be. Being prepared for the worst makes it much more manageable.
The Future of Dogs On Trains
More locations normally dog-free seem to be open to allowing dogs to accompany their owner. Trains are no exception. As long as owners follow rules and the dog is on great behavior, some passengers might not even realize a dog is onboard.
Expect more trains to become dog-friendly. There will also be more dog seats available if the demand stays high. Traveling on a train with a dog is becoming easier and easier, which leaves many owners happy.