Traveling with a German Shepherd: Tips and Advice

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Traveling with your German Shepherd can be an amazing experience. As an active and intelligent breed, German Shepherds enjoy new sights and activities. However, traveling requires preparation to keep your dog comfortable, safe, and healthy. This article provides tips and advice for traveling with your German Shepherd by car, plane, or other methods.

Key Takeaways

  1. Train your dog thoroughly before traveling to ensure good behavior. Practice commands and acclimate to car rides.
  2. Make sure your dog has proper ID, documents, and health clearance from a vet before any trip.
  3. Use secured crates or harnesses specially designed for car and air travel to keep your dog safe and contained.
  4. Research all pet policies thoroughly. Hotels, airlines, and attractions have restrictions.
  5. Pack supplies like medications, grooming tools, waste bags, cleaning products, food, water, bowls, toys, and first aid.
  6. Monitor your dog closely for signs of anxiety, illness, or injury during travel. Intervene immediately if issues arise.
  7. Plan plenty of exercise, potty breaks, and water during any long trip. Don’t overdo activities.
  8. Proper preparation prevents problems! Travel safely and comfortably with your German Shepherd.

Preparing for Travel

Before any trip, take time to prepare your German Shepherd. This will help avoid potential issues and make the experience more enjoyable for everyone.


A well-trained dog will be better behaved in new environments. Prior to travel, refresh training on basic commands like sit, stay, come, down, and heel. Also practice commands in more distracting environments, like public parks. Improve car manners by taking short practice drives.

Identification and Documentation

Your dog should have up-to-date ID tags, a microchip, and a leash/collar. Also bring vaccination records and health certificates if required. Have a recent photo of your dog in case they become lost.


Pack supplies like food, treats, medications, grooming tools, waste bags, paper towels, and cleaning products. Bring toys and chews to entertain your dog. Have a crate or carrier for safe containment during travel.

Health Prep

Visit the vet to confirm your dog is healthy enough for travel. Update any vaccines or medications. Get medication to prevent motion sickness if needed.


Bathe and brush your German Shepherd before travel so they are clean. Trim their nails so they don’t scratch during confinement.

Dog-Friendly Destination

Research your destination to find dog-friendly areas, restaurants, parks, trails, beaches, and hotels. Check for breed or size restrictions too.

Traveling by Car

Road trips allow you to bond with your German Shepherd. Proper safety and planning is key.


Pack supplies you may need:

  • Food, water, bowls, waste bags
  • Chews, toys
  • Leash, collar or harness, bed, crate
  • Cleaning supplies
  • First aid kit
  • Paper towels, grooming tools


Your dog should be properly restrained in a crate secured in your vehicle or wear a crash-tested harness attached to a seat belt system. Never allow them to be loose in the car. Take regular breaks to let your dog relieve themselves, exercise, and get fresh air/water. Never leave them alone in a vehicle.

Managing Motion Sickness

To prevent car sickness, avoid feeding right before travel. Lower car windows a few inches to allow air flow. Use anti-nausea medication if prescribed by your vet. With mild cases, gradually increase time in the car to acclimate your dog. For anxious dogs, use calming aids like treats, toys, or compression wraps.

Road Trip Best Practices

  • Plan dog-friendly routes and stops. Use a pet locator app to find areas for your dog to relieve themselves.
  • Walk your dog before departures and when stopping for gas/food. Avoid leaving them alone when possible.
  • Pack a dog first aid kit. Keep a list of emergency vet clinics along your route.
  • Bring plenty of drinking water to avoid dehydration.
  • Adjust travel plans or end early if your dog shows signs of distress like panting, anxious behavior, vomiting, or elimination issues.
Loose in CarMore freedom of movementExtremely dangerous in a crash
Lap RidingClose bonding opportunityRisk of driver distraction
CrateProvides security, containment, den-like environmentRequires training, not crash tested
HarnessCrash-tested models available for safetyCan allow too much movement

Air Travel

When flying with your German Shepherd, following airline pet policies is crucial.

Cabin vs. Cargo

Most airlines require dogs to fly as manifest cargo – not in the cabin. Exceptions are made for trained service dogs. Puppies under 8 weeks old on domestic flights can sometimes travel in the cabin if small enough to fit under a seat, but policies vary. Always check with your specific airline.

Choosing an Airline

Some airlines have better pet safety records and procedures than others. Do research before booking. The best airlines for dogs are:

  • Lufthansa – Provides veterinary officers, climate control, and an animal lounge at their hub in Frankfurt.
  • Alaska Airlines – Limits pet cargo space for more comfort, and pet passengers board first.
  • JetBlue – Gives updates during flight on their JetPaws program. Temperature controlled cargo hold.

Avoid connecting flights if possible – nonstop is less stressful. Avoid extremely hot/cold weather travel.

Airline Approved Pet Carriers

Airlines have specific kennel requirements including material, construction, dimensions, ventilation, and closures. Kennels must allow the dog to stand, turn around, and lie down comfortably. Measure your German Shepherd in position before purchasing a kennel.

  • Hard kennels with proper ventilation are best.
  • Affix locks with metal nuts/bolts instead of plastic fasteners.
  • Attach food and water bowls. Freeze water before flight.
  • Label kennel with your contact information inside/outside.
  • Attach airline forms and Live Animal stickers.

Preparing Your Dog for Flight

Getting your German Shepherd comfortable with their travel kennel through training in advance is crucial preparation for a smooth flight.

Feed them a light meal 4-6 hours prior to the flight, avoiding food for 1-2 hours immediately before travel to prevent nausea. Providing good exercise before bringing your dog to the airport will help release pent up energy so they are relaxed for the flight.

Have all necessary vet records, medications, a muzzle if your dog may be anxious, and grooming supplies packed and ready to bring. Placing a worn, familiar t-shirt that smells like home inside the kennel can provide reassurance. Use adhesive stickers labeled “Live Animal” on the kennel to properly identify and warn airline staff that a dog is inside.

At the Airport

Be sure to arrive at the airport early when flying with your German Shepherd to allow plenty of time for airline check-in. There are often additional pet fees required for your dog to fly, so come prepared. Attach all necessary documents securely to the top of the kennel before check-in where they can be easily seen and accessed by staff.

Sedatives or tranquilizers administered prior to air travel are not recommended by veterinarians because these types of medications can dangerously affect your dog’s breathing.

Once checked in by the airline staff, your German Shepherd in their kennel will travel in a pressurized, climate-controlled cargo hold for pets and other live animals. This area of the plane is specifically designed for safe animal transport.

Upon Arrival

Checking on your German Shepherd’s condition immediately at baggage claim upon arrival at your destination is very important. Visually inspect them through the kennel and report any concerns over their condition, signs of distress, or damage to the airline staff right away. Providing fresh water and a small meal if it was a long flight helps rehydrate and refuel your dog.

Let your German Shepherd relieve themselves in a designated airport animal relief area before leaving the airport to increase their comfort. Thoroughly check your dog’s paws, body, skin, and fur for any injuries that may have occurred during travel once settled into your accommodations.

Knowing airline procedures helps make air travel as low-stress as possible for your German Shepherd. Always consult your veterinarian before air travel.

Traveling by Train

Traveling long distances by rail with your German Shepherd can be done in a few different ways:

  • Amtrak – Dogs under 20 pounds can ride at your feet in a carrier. Larger dogs can travel as accompanied express cargo on select routes with temperature control and ride supervision by staff.
  • Passenger Rail Lines – Regional rail providers may allow dogs in carriers or crates in passenger cars. Policies vary by provider.
  • Private Rail Car – Luxury private rail cars can be chartered which have accommodations for passengers and their pets. This option allows your dog to ride in a private suite with you above the engine.

Contact rail providers in advance for pet policies. Amtrak requires health certificates for dogs traveling as express cargo. Have your dog microchipped in case they get lost during rail travel. Traveling by rail reduces stress compared to air travel.

Traveling by RV

Exploring the open road with your German Shepherd is made easy in a pet-friendly recreational vehicle. Follow these tips for RV travel:

  • Ensure your RV has adequate climate control to keep your dog cool/warm.
  • Use crates or barriers to keep dogs away from driver areas. Secured harnesses can allow safe movement.
  • Pack a month’s supply of medications, food, preventatives like flea/tick collars and your dog’s vet records.
  • Use pet locating apps to find dog parks, trails, beaches, and rest stops along your route. Know emergency vet clinic locations.
  • Prepare for power outages with backup batteries to run climate control and cook food.
  • Always walk your German Shepherd on a leash when outdoors near campsites for safety and to limit damage.
  • Take breaks from driving every few hours to let your dog exercise and relieve themselves.
  • Practice camping in your RV before extended trips so your dog can acclimate.
  • Keep all human/pet food sealed in RV proof containers to avoid attracting wildlife.

RV travel allows you to bring all the comforts from home for a smooth trip with your German Shepherd!

Lodging with Your German Shepherd

Finding pet friendly lodging is key to a smooth trip. Here are tips for accommodations:

Pet-Friendly Hotels

Hotels that allow dogs often designate pet rooms to contain allergens. Important policies to verify:

  • Size restrictions/breed prohibitions – German Shepherds may be banned
  • Pet fees per day or per stay
  • Number of pets allowed per room
  • Refundable pet deposit in case of damage
  • Weight limits like under 50 pounds
  • Leaving pets unattended vs. crated policies

Search pet travel sites for pet-friendly hotels along your route. Always call ahead about restrictions when reserving a room with your German Shepherd.

Vacation Rentals

House and condo rentals found through Airbnb, Vrbo, and other sites frequently allow dogs with owner consent. Look for listings marketed as “dog friendly” with backyard space. This provides more room than a hotel for you and your German Shepherd.


If camping in an RV, tent camping, or staying in a cabin, look for pet friendly campsites and tours. State park and national park campgrounds have varying pet rules – some require them to be leashed/crated at all times. Always verify guidelines and be considerate of other campers not comfortable around dogs.

Activities with Your German Shepherd

The key to a fun trip with your German Shepherd is building in activities they will enjoy too.


Pack hiking essentials like collapsible bowls, doggie backpacks, poop bags, paw balm, trail treats and take your German Shepherd with you on scenic trails. Research ones that allow dogs beforehand. Ensure proper leash etiquette when passing other hikers.


Lakes, rivers, and beaches that allow dogs off-leash or have designated dog swim areas are ideal. Always supervise your German Shepherd when swimming and provide a dog life jacket if needed. Rinse your dog after swimming to prevent skin and ear issues.

Dining Outdoors

Look for restaurants with pet friendly patios. Call ahead to verify outdoor dog policies. Keep your German Shepherd behaved and on leash next to your table. Bring a crate or bed to keep them comfortable during the meal. Carry clean up supplies in case of accidents.

Road Trips

Plan a dedicated road trip to national parks, forests, monuments and dog friendly attractions along the way. Chart pet friendly dining and hotel stops to make it easy to travel the open road with your German Shepherd companion.

Health Tips

Monitor your German Shepherd closely when traveling to watch for signs of distress or emerging health issues.

  • Ensure adequate hydration when traveling. Carry extra water.
  • Watch for limping, cuts, or debris between toes that could cause limping or lameness.
  • Check for vomiting, diarrhea or constipation which can onset quickly.
  • Feel for signs of fever and check gums for redness or paleness.
  • Look for increased panting as an indicator of stress.
  • Administer medications as prescribed by your vet to prevent issues.
  • Know emergency vet contacts at your destination or along your travel route.
  • Never give human medication to dogs without your veterinarian’s approval.

By carefully planning activities, lodging, transportation, and health safeguards, you and your German Shepherd can enjoy many happy travels together. Patience and preparation is key. Bon voyage!

Frequently Asked Questions

At what age can a German Shepherd safely travel?

German Shepherd puppies can travel safely from 8-12 weeks old once they have received their first set of vaccinations. Avoid air travel until 6 months old. Adult German Shepherds in good health can travel extensively.

How do I make car travel comfortable for my German Shepherd?

Provide a cushioned bed in their crate or doggy seat belt attachment. Lower windows slightly for ventilation. Take regular breaks. Provide toys and treats. Practice short trips to get them used to car travel. Clean up any motion sickness accidents right away.

What if my German Shepherd gets anxious during travel?

Signs of anxiety include panting, restlessness, whining, shaking, and excessive drooling. Try calming shirts, anxiety vests, or natural supplements. Talk reassuringly and provide favorite toys. Never give your dog human anti-anxiety medication without veterinarian approval.

Can I take my German Shepherd on a bike ride with me?

Yes, using a special dog bike leash and harness combo. The Walky Dog leash attaches the dog’s harness to your bike frame allowing them to run safely alongside your bike. Take breaks and ride at a pace your dog can handle based on fitness level, temperature, and terrain.

What if my German Shepherd won’t use the bathroom when traveling?

Hydration and regular breaks will encourage potty time. Use familiar commands and reward them for going in new environments. carry clean up and odor removal supplies just in case. Limit food before travel to decrease urgency. Seek veterinary advice if they go over 24 hours without relieving themselves.

How do I keep my German Shepherd well-groomed during travel?

Pack all their grooming essentials like nail clippers, shedding tools, toothbrush and toothpaste, paw balm, etc. Stop routinely during driving breaks or flights to brush your dog’s coat, trim excess fur between paw pads, wipe dirty paws, and check their skin. Carry dry shampoo or grooming wipes for spot cleaning messy fur.


Traveling with your beloved German Shepherd requires planning and preparation but opens up a world of adventure. By investing time into training, securing proper documentation, packing supplies, utilizing crates and restraints, researching pet policies, and focusing on your dog’s health and comfort, your furry companion can safely join you on many travels.

Patience and vigilance prevents and addresses issues that may arise. The reward is memories made and bonds strengthened as you explore new sights together. Travel today creates a lifetime of unforgettable experiences you and your German Shepherd can cherish.

By Andrew Garf

Andrew Garf has loved dogs, especially German Shepherds, since he was 10 years old. Though he also loves burgers, training dogs is his real passion. That's why he created the website - to help dog owners learn how to properly train, care for, and bond with their German Shepherd dogs.