The Ultimate Guide to Dog Ground Transport

Patrick MacFarland Patrick MacFarland · Updated July 1, 2024

Ensure Your Furry Friend's Comfort!

  • Fast and easy
  • Only pay when you book
Dog, window

Consider this scenario: you just got notice that you’re being transferred to another city in the US for work. It’s a permanent move — meaning you have to uproot your entire life and start anew across the country. If you’re a pet owner, there’s the added layer of transporting your dog to your new home. What does this mean? You have to find a way to transport them to your new home.

Of course, as you may figure, shipping a dog to a new destination can be daunting. Ground shipping is usually the most common way to go about getting your furry friend from point A to point B.

Air Travel Vs. Dog Ground Transport

Air travel is an option, but it comes with restrictions that may preclude your pup from getting on board. There are other downsides to flying your dog:

  • The dog can’t leave the carrier for the duration of the flight and while waiting in the terminal.
  • Larger dogs must fly in a dedicated cargo area in the plane.
  • Depending on the circumstances, it can be more expensive.

Usually, ground shipping is often the most cost-effective way to transport a dog. Ground transportation for dogs usually involves a truck or van, though many transporters use smaller personal vehicles as well. It’s also an ideal option if you’re transporting your dog long distances.

In this ultimate guide to dog ground transport, we’ll cover the basic services, including estimated costs and considerations. We’ll also explain what you can do to ensure a safe and smooth shipping experience for your adorable pup.

A woman walking her dog on a city street.

How Can I Ship a Dog By Ground?

The best place to start to see what ground transportation services are available is online. You can also join Facebook or other social media groups where you can chat with others that have hired dog transportation services in the past. They’ll be able to give you the lowdown on which companies are the best and which ones to avoid.

  • We recommend you read the dog ground transportation company reviews that past customers have left on their websites or other pet travel sites.
  • You can check out the International Pet Travel Association (IPATA) website to see if the dog transportation service you are wondering about is a member of a pet travel association.
  • The IPATA website has a lot of advice and tidbits about pet travel, how to recognize fake shipping companies or puppy scammers and anything related to the sort.

Shipping a Dog by Train

You have the option of transporting your dog by train, but you must accompany your dog when doing so. A cross-country train ticket will cost you nearly $500, which means the ticket to any closer destination will be cheaper. Amtrak allows pet transportation, but there are several requirements and costs. Let’s take a look at those right now.

  • Only one pet per passenger.
  • The trip cannot last more than seven hours.
  • Your dog must be older than eight weeks.
  • Your dog must be under your seat at all times inside a carrier.
  • Lastly, the weight of your dog and carrier cannot exceed 20 pounds.

All in all, only small dogs are allowed on board because they have to be inside a carrier in the seat in front of you. The cost of having your pet on board totals $25, but the actual total costs for train travel will vary depending on distance. Depending on the train ticket you buy, your total costs associated with train travel can run from $100-$525.

Drawbacks of Transporting a Dog by Train

So now that we gave you the alternative — transporting a dog by train — there are drawbacks. If you have a small dog and are willing to shelve out hundreds of dollars for a train ticket, then go for it. But what if you don’t have a small dog? What if you are moving and need to be at your destination and can’t afford to travel by train? Here are a few drawbacks of transporting your dog by train:

  • Your trip cannot last more than seven hours.
  • You only have one dog per passenger.
  • No puppies younger than eight weeks are allowed.
  • Your pet has to be 20 pounds or less, which means this option is only for small dogs.

Two women providing pet relocation services in front of a house with their adorable dog.

DIY Dog Ground Transport

Another option you can go with is the do-it-yourself option. This is the easiest method because there are no requirements outside your control.

  • You’ll have to have any necessary documentation ready upon arrival.
  • There are several variables with the DIY option, including accommodation, food expenses, car wear and tear and gas costs.
  • You’ll have to stop along the way for potty breaks and for your precious doggo to get some exercise.
  • Remember, your dog will be cooped up in a vehicle for hours at a time.

This option can also be tiresome. Let’s face it, one person (or even a couple people) driving hundreds of miles can be straining to the eyes. The main factor you need to consider in this scenario is cost. If you are driving from one state to another, it will be more affordable. If you are driving cross country, expect to pay thousands of dollars.

Hiring Dog Ground Transportation Services

Here are some qualities of a good dog ground transport service:

  • They specialize and have expertise in specific breeds.
  • Other high-quality transporters can accommodate a wide range of dog breeds.
  • An animal handler will always be with your dog.
  • They adhere to the USDA’s rules and regulations in pet handling.
  • They offer door-to-door delivery.
  • As in all things in life, communication is essential, especially for your peace of mind and your dog’s safety. Make sure the dog transport company provides regular updates.
  • Excellent customer service means that the dog transporters will take care of your dog as if it were their own. Pay attention to the small details and their customer service duties.

An older couple receiving a shipped puppy in their driveway.

Factors that Affect the Cost to Ground Transport a Dog

There are a variety of factors that affect the total cost of ground transport for dogs. Let’s take a look at each of them in more detail.

Pet Transport Cost Factor #1: Moving Distance

Distance is the number one factor in how much your dog ground transport will cost. If your final destination is a few hundred miles away, it’s safe to assume that the costs will not be as high. It’s less time the driver is on the clock, less vehicle usage and fewer fuel charges.

However, because sometimes ground transport companies transport multiple dogs at a time, you may save money the further the distance. Sometimes, they charge per mile and the farther distance ends up being less than the closer one. Pay attention to this factor when choosing the best ground transportation for dogs.

Pet Transport Cost Factor #2: Pet Size

Ground transportation companies have different rules regarding dogs. If they’re smaller, they’re going to be placed in a carrier and transported more easily. But if you have a larger dog, it will make things more expensive. A good thing to consider is that if you do have multiple dogs, there may be a package deal you can take advantage of.

Pet Transport Cost Factor #3: Health Documentation

The destination state will have specific rules and regulations regarding pets. Check online to see what requirements are needed. Most states and dog transportation companies will require your pet’s vaccination documents and a health certificate filled out by a veterinarian. A pet health certificate is a form that documents that your pet is up-to-date on all of their vaccines and is in good condition to travel. All of this can cost in the ballpark figure between $50 to $300.

It’s important to note that the health certificate you need is called a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI). The health certificate must be completed with the veterinarian 10 days before travel in order for them to be up-to-date. The health certificate will also include the required vaccinations you need.

Vaccinations for dogs

The list of required vaccinations for dogs:

  • Canine parvovirus
  • Distemper
  • Canine hepatitis
  • Rabies

Pet Transport Cost Factor #4: Equipment

The pet transport service may require a carrier or crate for traveling, especially if they are traveling with other pets. There are soft carriers which can range between $50-$100 and they are mostly used for small dogs. There are also hard carriers for larger dogs. We recommend a sturdy, more expensive hard carrier because it won’t run the risk of breaking during the journey. Larger crates can cost anywhere between $200-$500.

Pet Transport Cost Factor #5: Time of Year

Like other sectors of the transportation industry, seasonality has an effect on the cost of shipping. Summer and around holidays are a popular time for pet transportation, driving up demand and therefore, cost.

A woman using pet transport services holds a white dog in front of a brick wall.

Using CitizenShipper for Dog Ground Transport

Let’s be perfectly frank here, most people don’t have the time, energy or experience to personally transport a pet across the country. Doing it yourself can be stressful and overwhelming. Transporting your dog via train has many restrictions and using a traditional dog shipping company can get too expensive. So what’s the alternative?

  • Using a two-way marketplace like CitizenShipper to find an independent dog transport service is the best solution.
  • You can save money on transportation costs because drivers bid for your business.
  • And you can save up to 60%-70% compared to a traditional dog transportation company.

Using CitizenShipper is Easy as Pie!

  • Step 1: Start by filling out your dog’s information and specifics about the transport.
  • Step 2: The minute you post a free listing on our marketplace, a fleet of background-checked, USDA-registered drivers will send you quotes.
  • Step 3: Once you receive bids, you can view them, compare them and chat with the drivers.
  • Step 4: When you’ve found the driver you feel comfortable with, you will be able to choose a quote that fits your budget.

The final price tag is determined by the driver and you — drivers and dog owners frequently negotiate a price that works for both parties. CitizenShipper charges a modest fee that varies per mileage and accounts for our stringent vetting and verification process.

Pro Tip — Don’t Choose a Dog Transport Service Solely on Price

There is a little pro tip that we recommend you doing. Don’t book a driver based solely on price. Like everything in life, the best things don’t come cheap. The same goes for transporters. Usually, the best transporters charge a little more. We also recommend that you read reviews, communicate with the driver through the instant-messaging system and look at their record before making your decision.

The bottom line is your dog will be in good hands with CitizenShipper’s qualified drivers, who will treat your precious pup like he’s a part of their family.

The Bottom Line

Dog ground transport can come in different ways — from train travel to a traditional transport company. Those are way easier methods than air travel or other forms of transport. The deciding factor to consider in choosing which dog ground transport service is right for you can be the cost.

If you go the route of a two-way marketplace, you will have the solution you need. Trusted by more than 100,000 pet lovers, the best option is booking a driver through CitizenShipper’s marketplace. It is safe and secure, and drivers on CitizenShipper know your dog means everything to you. They will ensure proper, loving care throughout the journey to that final destination without stress and chaos.

When you trust drivers on our CitizenShipper network, you won’t need to stress out because your dog will be in the best of hands. We also work hard to ensure your peace of mind throughout the entire transaction. CitizenShipper also provides some added benefits for you: up to $1,000 Pet Protection guarantee, a Booking Assurance Guarantee, a messaging system where you can communicate directly with the driver and 24/7 TeleVet access through our partner FirstVet.

Make sure you get a driver with CitizenShipper that will save your day. Post your pet’s transport now, and get free quotes in a jiffy!