How to Hack Train Travel with a Pet

How to Hack Train Travel with a Pet. Tips to riding the Amtrak with a dog in the USA. Includes pet friendly essentials.

Recently I took Bruno on the train for the first time (excluding short trips on the subway, of course). I’ve flown with him before but this was a whole new game. Train travel. The husband and I were headed down to DC for #BloggersTakeTheCity and Bruno was going to the grandparents for the weekend. This is how we rocked train travel with a pet.


  1. Making a Reservation

Amtrak has certain restrictions on traveling with pets and there’s certain train lines where they’re not allowed. Also, pets aren’t allowed in business class and probably not the quiet car (for obvious reasons).

But it’s actually super easy as they’ve just added pet reservations online in the last month. When you go to choose your train, you’ll see a picture of a dog and a number. The number indicates the number of pet reservations available (maximum of 5).

Screenshot of pet reservation on Amtrak website

After you choose which train you’d like to take, you’ll go to the Add-On page where you can add your pet.

Screenshot of Add On screen when you can add pet to your reservation

You will also need to sign the Pet Release and Indemnification Agreement which you can print out ahead of time or do it at the train station. The train conductor will check both your ticket and this agreement on board.


  1. Get a Pet Carrier

Amtrak rules state that your pet must remain in a carrier at all times.

Since Bruno has already flown on planes, he has a carrier he likes and we recommend it – Sleepypod Air In-Cabin Pet Carrier. It’s discreet and fits well under seats. The side pockets allow for leash and treat storage. Plus, you can easily slide it over the handle of your suitcase which makes it easier to carry.

Bruno in his Sleepypod Carrier which attaches to suitcases

The carrier will need to fit under your seat (not the seat in front of you like on a plane). Mine stuck out a little bit but none of the conductors had a problem.

Pet carrier underneath the seat on the train

It’s also smart to get your pet used to the carrier. If you’ve never used it, take your pet on small trips with the carrier. Go for a drive or walk around the block. When I first got my carrier, I took Bruno on adventures so he’d associate the carrier with fun things.

If you have a carrier but haven’t used it in awhile, take it out for a few days so your dog can sniff around it. It’s also a good idea to put treats inside so your pet associates it with good things and gets used to getting in and out.


  1. Tire Your Pet Out

Having a tired pup before your train ride means he'll sleep on the train

This is the best thing you can do. If possible, give your pet a day at daycare the day before so they’re extra tired. Bruno loves his daycare and he’s tired the night after and the next day.

Even if you can’t take your dog to daycare, make sure you give him extra walks before the train ride. With a morning train ride, it was easy to wake up and walk him then walk him again at the train station. Make sure your dog empties his bladder before he gets on the train and be careful how much water you give him.

The more tired your dog is, the more likely he’ll sleep on the train.


  1. Treats!

Bruno loves treats

Your dog loves treats at home, so he’ll love them even more while traveling. To get Bruno in the carrier, I’ll throw a few treats in and he goes right in.

If your dog likes rawhide or other chews that take awhile to eat, they will be your best friend. Distraction is huge in getting your dog to settle. If Bruno starts fussing, I’ll throw a treat in.

Bruno’s favorite treat is Earth Animal Calm USA Chicken Jerky Dog Treats, 8 Ounces. We got this for the calming properties but he’s totally obsessed with it. As soon as you open the bag, you can tell the quality. It smells like real chicken and it doesn’t have a lot of fake ingredients. I’ll rip it up into small pieces and give to him in his carrier.

Don’t forget to Pin for later!

How to Hack Train Travel with a Pet. Tips to riding the Amtrak with a dog in the USA. Includes pet friendly essentials. How to Hack Train Travel with a Pet. Tips to riding the Amtrak with a dog in the USA. Includes pet friendly essentials.


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