Everyone knows that dogs are man’s best friend. So it only makes sense that you want to take your pup with you when you’re on the go. Gone are the days where pets were restricted to their home when you were out. Today, an increasing number of workplaces, restaurants, and shops have said that furry friends are welcome; allowing you to bring your pup along on errands, shopping trips, or for their own specific puppy play date.
My dog, Maple Syrup — a 15 pound, Chihuahua/rat terrier mix named after a breakfast condiment —enjoys taking the MBTA public transportation (or “the T”) to get around with me. I would like to think that she enjoys using the T for environmental reasons, but she’s also a social butterfly and likes to meet new people. Luckily for Maple and me, the T is dog-friendly, but there are some helpful tips and reminders everyone should be aware of before embarking (Get it?) on an MBTA trip to ensure a tail-wagging experience.
While MBTA is pet friendly, keep in mind that not all regional transit authorities (RTA) are pet friendly in Massachusetts. Below is a list of the Massachusetts’s RTAs and their general pet policies. Be sure to double check with your local RTA to ensure that dogs are allowed.
|RTA||General Pet Policy|
|Berkshire Regional Transit Authority||Only in pet carrier|
|Franklin Regional Transit Authority||Only in pet carrier|
|Montachusett Regional Transit Authority||Only service animals|
|Pioneer Valley Regional Transit Authority||Only in pet carrier|
|Worcester Regional Transit Authority||Only in pet carrier|
|Lowell Regional Transit Authority||In pet carrier or leashed|
|Merrimack Valley Regional Transit Authority||In pet carrier, or on lap|
|Cape Ann Transportation Authority||Only in pet carrier|
|Brockton Area Transit||Only in pet carrier|
|Greater Attleboro Taunton Regional Transit Authority||Only in pet carrier|
|Southeastern Regional Transit Authority||Only service animals|
|Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority||Only in pet carrier|
|Vineyard Transit Authority||Only in pet carrier|
|Nantucket Regional Transit Authority||Pets allowed on leash/cage/carrying case|
|Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority||Pets allowed on leash/cage/carrying case|
While service animals are allowed on the T, commuter rail, or MBTA buses anytime, non-service animals are not allowed during rush hours. During off-peak hours, dogs are welcomed on-board, however, they should be leashed. Additionally, dogs should not be taking up their own seat, but may sit on your lap. Details on the MBTA pet policy can be found here.
Before taking your dog on the T, you should have a firm understanding of your dog’s behavior. Is your dog confident in unfamiliar surroundings? Or is your dog a bundle of nerves or territorial and doesn’t like being around people they don’t know? To make the ride more enjoyable for yourself, your dog, and the other riders, you want to be sure that your dog can handle the environment on the T. A calm and quiet pup is necessary. You should be able to control your dog. Remind your dog to be respectful of others personal space as well – not everyone is a dog person!
Motion Sickness and Stress
Many dogs suffer from motion sickness, which can present itself in anxiety, restlessness, yawning, excessive drooling, and/or vomiting. Your car is a better space than the T to test if your dog is susceptible to motion sickness. If you don’t have the time or resources to test your dog, try to limit their food and water consumption prior to your trip.
Trains can be overstimulating and loud even for a first time human rider, let alone a dog! The experience can even be quite scary for even the bravest of mastiffs. For the first trip, try to go at a very quiet time. Low ridership can occur early mornings on a Saturday or midday on a Sunday. Lower ridership means fewer overwhelming stimuli, and it reduces the risk of your dog getting accidentally stepped on. Finally, for your dog’s first ride on the T, get off at a stop where you can take your dog on a really lovely W-A-L-K, preferably one with a lot of sniffing potential. This will help them associate the T with a positive experience. They will be excited the next time their paws hit the railcar!
What to Bring
A small bag should be packed with a few helpful resources. If your dog is not bothered by motion sickness, bringing treats with you can be a great way to keep your dog’s attention and positively reinforcing good behavior. A favorite toy may also help. Accidents can happen when pups are out of their element. A few pet waste bags, antibacterial wipes, and paper towels may be very helpful. All RTAs require some form of containment, so be sure to bring a leash or carrier to comply with your local RTA and to be ready to control your pet.
Commuting with your dog can seem like a challenging and daunting task. But, with a little preparation, it can be a walk in the park and give you and your dog access to wonderful experiences all across Boston.