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Does Amtrak Allow Dogs? 2024 Update & Travel Tips

Grant Piper

By Grant Piper

amtrak train

Riding the train can be a fun, scenic, and relaxing way to get across the country. Amtrak is the United States’ primary rail provider for passenger travel, and most long-distance rail travel must be done through Amtrak in North America. If you are thinking about taking a long trip on the train with your pet, there are a lot of things you should know before you go. Amtrak has a very detailed pet policy. Amtrak does allow dogs, but they must adhere to all of their rules, and the rules can seem daunting if this is your first time trying to book a ticket for you and your dog.

It is important to note that dogs must weigh less than 20 pounds to ride, so many dogs will be disqualified from riding based on their size alone. This is because Amtrak requires you to put your dog in a carrier under the seat for your trip. Even if your dog is less than 20 pounds, there are many additional things you need to be aware of before you travel.

Here is everything you need to know about riding Amtrak with a dog, including all the rules and some tips to help ensure that your trip goes smoothly.

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Amtrak Dog Policy

Before we begin, note that service animals are not considered pets. Service animals are always allowed on Amtrak trains in accordance with the Americans With Disabilities Act.


One of the oddities of the Amtrak policy says that there can only be a total of five animals per train. Not five animals per car or per party but five animals per train. That means that animal slots can fill up quickly. If you are planning on traveling with your pet, you should book as far in advance as possible to guarantee yourself a spot on the train with your dog. If a train fills up with pets before you book, they will not allow you to book a ticket for yourself and your animal.

  • Only one pet is allowed per person.
  • Reservations with pets are limited to 7 hours of total travel time. That includes transfer time between trains on multiple-segment trips.
  • Pets are allowed in Coach Class and Acela Business Class.
  • Pets are not allowed in Acela First Class seating, First Class private rooms, non-Acela Business Class, food service cars, or other accommodations.
Plastic dog crates carrier
Image Credit: Konstantin Gushcha, Shutterstock


Pets will be charged an additional fee per segment. This charge will be tacked on to the price of your ticket. Route fees are either $29 per segment or $39 per segment. Note that not all Amtrak routes and trains allow pets. Check the schedule of fees to see what routes allow pets and to see what the exact fee for your trip will be.

Required Carrier

All pets riding Amtrak must travel in an approved carrier. The carrier can be soft sided or hard sided. The only exception is for service animals that are actively doing a job during the trip. You are not allowed to let your pet out during the trip, which is why Amtrak limits riders to seven hours maximum per trip if you are traveling with a pet.

  • Maximum carrier dimensions: 19″ long x 14″ wide x 10.5″ high
  • Maximum weight: 20 pounds (with pet)
  • Pet carriers count as a single piece of carry-on luggage
a woman using a laptop with a beagle dog on her lap
Image Credit: Kampus Production, Pexels

Permitted Pets

Not all pets are permitted on Amtrak trains. Amtrak will only allow cats and dogs to ride. Cats and dogs must weigh less than 20 pounds with their carrier to be allowed on the train. The carrier must also fit the size restrictions because it has to fit under the seat during the duration of the trip.


There are numerous restrictions in place when you take Amtrak with your pets. Animals must remain in their carriers at all times when on the train and at the stations. Animals can weigh a maximum of 20 pounds with the carrier included. That means if you have a particularly chunky cat or a dog right on the edge of the weight limit, you should opt for a light carrier.

  • Pets must remain entirely inside a closed carrier while in stations and onboard trains.
  • Never leave your animals alone or unattended.
  • Onboard, place your pet carrier under your seat and not the seat in front of you.
a woman using a laptop with a beagle dog on her lap
Image Credit: Kampus Production, Pexels

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Pet Friendly Routes

If leaving your pet in its carrier under your seat does not sound like the most pleasant train ride, you can look for a pet friendly route. Specific routes have been designed with pets in mind and offer a pet friendly car where animals can be allowed out of their carriers during the trip.

The pet friendly routes are:

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

Be sure to check with your booking agent to see if your route is pet friendly and if there are available seats for the coach cars where pets are allowed.

man booking ticket online
Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock


Before boarding the train, you must sign a release for your pet for each segment of the ride. If you are boarding at a main station, you should arrive 30 minutes ahead of time so that you can sign and file the paperwork before getting on.

You can find the release here.

If you are boarding at an unstaffed station, your conductor should be able to verify your paperwork and let you board. You must sign this form before boarding any Amtrak train with your pet.

The Fine Print

Like anything in life, there are some additional rules that you must abide by that are not obvious at first glance. Here are some more regulations that Amtrak has in place regarding pets that you must be aware of before booking your trip.

  • Pets must be at least 8 weeks old to travel.
  • Pets must be odorless.
  • Pets must be harmless.
  • Pets must not be disruptive.
  • Pets must 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.
  • Riders accept liability for their pet by signing the pet release document at check-in.
  • Amtrak does not accept liability for the health and well-being of pets.

The 6 Tips for a Successful Ride

In order to have the smoothest trip possible, you should follow these tips. There are a lot of rules and regulations about traveling with your pet on Amtrak, and you must follow all of them in order to reach your destination successfully.

  • Book as early as possible to guarantee a spot on the train for your animal.
  • Do not try to bring more than one pet to the station; only one will be allowed to board.
  • Make sure you have a carrier that your animal enjoys riding in; you might want to do a trial run in the car to make sure they are not noisy or disruptive in the carrier.
  • Pay your fees, sign the paperwork, and ensure that you booked a pet ticket.
  • Weigh your pet in its carrier before you go to ensure that it comes in under the 20-pound limit.
  • Brush up on all of the rules and guidelines before you go so you are not surprised or denied service.
dog inside pet carrier
Image Credit: Monika Wisniewska, Shutterstock

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Amtrak has a lot of rules regarding pets on their trains. It is a good idea to know these rules and restrictions before you go to ensure the best trip possible. Riding the train with your pet is not the easiest thing in the world with your pet, but it can be done if you follow all of these guidelines.

You can read the full animal policy from Amtrak here if you have any additional questions.

You might be interested: Does Spirit Allow Dogs? Pet Policy & Exclusions

Featured Image Credit: Piqsels

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