The Ultimate Guide to Taking Dogs on Trains and Buses

Taking dogs on trains and buses has always been one of the biggest issues for urban pet owners. Most of us who live in metropolitan areas, primarily use public transportation. It often gets difficult, or sometimes impossible, to travel on trains and buses, when you have your canine with you.

Just like many of you, I found myself, as a k9 owner, in many situations asking if specific public transport company permits traveling with a dog or not, and the requirements that I must to follow.

When you have to take your puppy for a grooming session or to a vet, subway and buses seem like the most efficient means of transportation.

In recent years, many of the mass transit provisioners in the US changed their Traveling With Pets Policies to become a pet-friendly business. That’s why I am going to share a few tips that will make it easier for you to bring a dog on the train, or a bus.


5 Actionable Tips You Must Know Before Using Dog-Friendly Public Transport

No doubt taking dogs to travel with you can be stressful, especially if you don’t know about the pet policies and rules of conduct when using different urban transit routes. However, I’m going to give a few actionable tips here that are common to most of the dog-friendly transit providers.

1. Size Matters

After checking several pet travel rules from the biggest US train and bus companies, I found out that only service dogs and small sized dogs, in pet carriers, are allowed by most of the pet-friendly transport providers. If you have a larger animal, you may seek for another solution like calling a taxi for dogs.

2. Only Socialized and Healthy Dogs

One of the most important things you have to consider before taking dogs on trains and buses is that they should be well-trained and socialized. It means that you must ensure that your dog:

  • Isn’t aggressive
  • It doesn’t growl, howl or bark
  • Is healthy, odorless and vaccinated
  • Trained not to relieve himself during travel

Furthermore, you have to take care of the comfort of other passengers as well, and ensure that your dog will not disturb them.

3. Get a Compliant Pet Carrier – Leash is Required For Service Dogs

A common mistake most people make is that they take a dog on the subway or a bus without the best dog carrier. Moreover, a compliant, leak-proof and well-ventilated pet carrier is a necessity. In this way, you won’t have any problems with the conductors. When choosing a pet carrier make sure it fits under the seat and is comfortable enough for our pup. Passengers with disabilities are allowed to have their service dogs on a leash or harness.

Petsfit Expandable Travel Dog Carrier
Petsfit Expandable Travel Dog Carrier

Soft sided foldable pet carrier with pockets and fleece mat

4. Buy a Pet Fare Ticket

Unlike BART, a majority of the dog-friendly train and bus operators require you to buy a special pet fare ticket, before you travel with your pooch. Also, respect the limits on how many animals can be accepted on board.

5. Arrange Hassle-Free On-boarding and a Comfortable Journey

Check-in and pet release paperwork is required on some trains to confirm pet eligibility. That’s why you should be at the check-in office at least half an hour before departure. Your dog must remain inside their carrier while in stations and onboard trains.

If you have a long journey, it is better that you bring a water bottle, some treats, and food that will not create any mess. In this way, your puppy will remain calm during the journey.

Traveling With Your Dog by Train or Subway

Many of the biggest rail companies accept to carry your beloved pet onboard. However, it’s important that you follow their strict pet policies. Here is a summary of the requirements for rail traveling dog owners.

According to Amtrak dog policy, you are allowed to bring your dog, of up to 20 pounds, in a pet carrier for a journey of up to 7 hours.

NJ transit
Only small pets in carry-on travel cages are tolerated on-board trains and buses as mentioned on the website.

A dog must be secured in a container that is specifically manufactured for transport of a pet. Large dogs are not permitted. See rules.

NYC Subway
You can only carry your canine in a bag or carrier. You have to assure that your tail-wagger will not disturb other passengers. See rules of conduct.

Crowded train stations and subways can be dangerous places for your beloved pets. So, it’s advisable to avoid rush hours. Additionally, take all the necessary precautions when using escalators to prevent any serious paw injuries.


Taking Your Dog to a Bus

When traveling with buses, the rules are similar as on rail. You must read the pet rules on bus operator website very carefully. Check also the following tips that will make your pet travel easier for you.

    1. 1. When you enter the bus with your pup in your hands, it is better to ask for permission from the passenger you are planning to sit next to. Make sure that person sitting next to you is comfortable and not allergic to pets. Alternatively, you should consider finding another vacant seat.
    1. 2. Have your dog cleaned. Bath your pup properly, so it is not smelly.
    1. 3. It is better that you sit with your 4-legged friend at the back, where there is less movement. Avoid sitting near the doors.
    1. 4. Keep your dog properly hydrated during the ride.
    1. 5. Hold it in the under-seat carrier to avoid any issues.

What about Greyhound – the largest provider of intercity bus transportation? Do they allow pets? Unfortunately, they do not permit animals on their lines yet. However, you’ll definitely find a viable alternative that suits you.


Final Words on Traveling With Dogs on Public Transport

No doubt, taking your dogs on trains and buses can be troublesome for the owners, as well as pooches. Public transportation is convenient for people, but not pleasant for our dogs. Initially, it is better to start with small steps like making short rides with local buses, so your puppy will get used the travel experience. Later, you can consider using trains and other public transportation means for this purpose.

In my opinion, home dog sitting is a better alternative, if you don’t need to take your dog with you.

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