Dog Jaunt's new pet travel book is now out! Buy it, or learn more about it here. And please review it on Amazon!

Taking a pet dog on a Metro-North commuter train

Chloe and I took planes, trains, and automobiles together on our recent trip around New England — and when I say trains, I mean Metro-North commuter trains, since Amtrak doesn’t allow pet dogs on board. After driving around Massachusetts and New Hampshire and New York and Connecticut for a couple of weeks, I planned to meet my husband in Brooklyn, and since I will not drive anywhere near Manhattan, I opted to drop off the rental car in New Haven and catch a Metro-North train to the city. A couple of days later, the two of us (well, three, including Chloe), took a day trip to Danbury for an appointment in southwestern Connecticut.

I’d known for a while that pet dogs, either in a carrier or on a leash, are welcome on Metro-North trains, but this was the first time I’d put theory into practice. Both trips were easy — our fellow passengers and the train personnel didn’t turn a hair over Chloe, and she seemed perfectly comfortable. Here she is in her carrier, waiting in New Haven for the train to start moving:

Chloe stayed in her carrier on this trip, but during part of our second trip, a day trip to Connecticut, she sat (leashed) on my husband's lap

The other thing you see in this picture are the two enormous suitcases I was traveling with, and putting them on the seat and floor next to me was only one of the many newbie mistakes I made. If you’re traveling with big suitcases, put them in the train car’s vestibule. To look like a pro, extend the handle of your roller bags up behind the railings that line the vestibule:

The grey suitcase on the far wall belongs to a seasoned Metro-North traveler. Chloe's red suitcase, on the near wall, was sometimes in that location, but more often elsewhere....

Tragically, the handle of Chloe’s big red suitcase doesn’t fit behind the railing. Her suitcase also has wheels on the bottom, and those two facts meant that it shot around the vestibule whenever the train suddenly slowed or turned. I’ll just say that my fellow passengers were very patient and understanding, and I got a lot of exercise.

I should also mention that while Chloe’s carrier was on the seat next to me when the train was empty, I put it on my lap as the train filled up.

[May 2012: We took another trip on Metro-North, and this time Chloe traveled on my lap — allowed, as long as she stays on your lap and doesn’t ooze down onto the seat next to you. So pleasant — I do wish Amtrak would follow suit. Please note that on this trip, I lashed the handle of the big red suitcase to the vestibule’s railing with the detached strap of Chloe’s carrier. Worked like a charm.]

Chloe out of her carrier, and on my lap, in May 2012

The Metro-North trains are not luxurious, or even particularly comfortable, but they are perfectly serviceable, and I’d travel again on them in a heartbeat. The system is remarkably large, extending to New Haven in the east (with the option of connecting to Shore Line East trains, which allow pet dogs in carriers on board, and continuing to New London, CT), and Wassaic, Poughkeepsie and Port Jervis in the north. There is no pet fee. The station stops are brief, so do not count on them for bathroom breaks (for you or your dog!). There are no bathrooms on board [I’m wrong, there are — please see Emily’s comment below], nor is food available, but you are apparently welcome to bring food and drink onto the train — moments after I took the pictures for this post, a woman sat down across from me with a bottle of white wine and a gigantic prosciutto sandwich, finishing both, with perfect timing, as we pulled in to Grand Central.

14 comments

  • Emily

    Pssst…there are restrooms on MetroNorth trains, but not in every car. You might have to walk all the way to the front or back of the train to find the car with the restroom. Most on the New Haven line are a tight squeeze for just a human occupant, but Harlem-line trains have bathrooms roomy enough to let a pet in with you if you can’t leave him or her alone at your seat, though I don’t think they’re good places for doggy breaks.

  • Marianne

    I wish I knew you were coming through Connecticut. I have lived here all my life and would have loved to come meet you and Chloe! I am such a huge fan of you and the blog. Big thanks from me and Tucker for all the great information you provide to those of us who want our dogs with us where ever we go !

  • Jennifer

    Hello,
    Where do I enter Metro North with my dog. I need to go thru Grand Central and I was turned away by a security guard. He is a 6month old 60 pound puppy and well behaved and on a leash.

    Thank you!

  • Now that is a very good question, Jennifer — I have a call in to Metro-North’s Meredith Conti, and I’ll let you know what she says when she gets back to me!

  • But in the meantime, Jennifer, I found this tasty morsel in the Metro North Railroad rules and regs: “No person except a police officer or other person authorized by Metro-North shall enter a terminal, station or train with any animal except a seeing eye or hearing ear dog or an animal enroute to or from a train and under the direct control of the individual the animal is accompanying such as by leash, container or other device.” It’s “Section 1085.10 Animals barred from terminal” of “RULES AND REGULATIONS GOVERNING THE CONDUCT AND SAFETY OF THE PUBLIC IN THE USE OF THE METRO-NORTH COMMUTER RAILROAD COMPANY TERMINALS, STATIONS AND TRAINS,” and here’s the link from the MTA’s web site (accessed from Grand Central Station’s web site): http://www.mta.info/mta/police/rules_mnr.html You could print that out, highlighting the bit about “or an animal enroute to or from a train and under the direct control of the individual the animal is accompanying such as by leash, container or other device,” and show it to the next person who tries to stop you at Grand Central. You’d want to be polite, of course, but I think it might help.

  • And Meredith just got back to me — she thought the guard who stopped you was likely new to working at Grand Central, and didn’t know that leashed dogs could walk through to the Metro-North trains. Hope all of that helps!

  • Deborah

    So happy to see that I can travel with my mini-doxie, Sophia.. I have become visually impaired and don’t drive. Just delighted to know that I can begin to travel. Certainly reclaiming some independence. Thank you. Deborah & Sophia.

  • Connie

    We have to go to NYC about twice a week with out dog (17lbs), almost most of the time our dog sits on our lap, only if the train in quite empty will we allow her to use a seat., However we are being harrassed repeatedly by a conducter who is now slurring words at us like: “you think who you are”, “I’ll show you”, he insist our dog be on the floor. The other passengers have yelled at him and also said they will report him due to his horrible conduct. We have called Metro North (New Haven Line) and they said they will do something about this, but apparently, as of today, nothing has been done. He was severely rude again today and we are finding it extremely stressful and upsetting. Passengers have to him to keep moving on, but he snickers and has a horror attitude..Has anyone else had trouble with a male conducter on the NH line goint to and from Grand Central..He is the Nazi conductor.

  • Robert

    I am an animal lover and have had dogs my whole life…..but I do not believe dogs are people and that they need to go everywhere I do. Why would you let your dog sit on the train seat? If a person has their feet on the train seat we think that is terrible people have to sit there – same thing with a dog (or any animal) their feet are on the ground touching the same things a person’s feet are touching. If a child was sitting bare bottom on a seat we would think that was unsanitary – that is because it is – so why allow a dog’s bare bottom to sit on a seat where other people have to sit. I personally do not think that animals should be sitting on seats, I do not want to sit there after your animal has sat there and have hair on my dress clothes, your animals smell or worse anything left behind on me when I get up. You want people to be respectful of you bringing your dog, then be respectful of the people who also use the train and pay for the ticket. If you bring your animal you should have to buy a ticket – just like the airlines. If you feel the need to bring your animal everywhere you go – then bring their cage and put them on the floor – not on the seat and not at the table of a restaurant.

  • Hello, Robert — Indeed, I agree with you that pet owners need to be respectful of others when they travel together. Metro-North’s rules require pets not to occupy a seat — they must travel in your lap or sit/lie on the floor — and I think that’s a fine rule.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>